Friday 30th September 2011
A short discourse on shopping
THAT of shopping is, of all human activities I have observed, one of the most amusing.
It combines the labours of the ant colony with the hunger of the hyena and the ritual displays of mating fowl.
I cannot but admire the giants’ understanding of their serfs in ensuring the continuing attraction of shopping by the incorporation into the process of three essential features: dissatisfaction, desire and difficulty.
That the serfs are generally unhappy is obvious: why else would they buy 5,000,000,000 lottery tickets a year, when the chances of winning are so infinitesimal?
Avarice is not merely condoned, but encouraged. Most serfs, unable to acquire vast riches, toil hard in order to obtain at least some rewards: a cell with a pen, a cage, appliances for cooking, entertainment and comfort. Having all these possessions, however, does not satisfy an innate appetite for more: a second cell, a faster cage, a larger television, and so on.
Authoritative voices demand to know who wants to be a millionaire. The answer is, they all do.
Thus, to compensate for the dissatisfaction of tedious work and to meet the desire for ownership of goods, the giants have granted the serfs the privilege of shopping. However, they have also contrived to make this task both arduous and complicated.
Most shops are only open during the hours when most serfs are at work. Consequently, most people go shopping on the one day when everyone else is intent on doing the same. Highways, cage bays and pedestrian zones become so crowded that it can take a serf several hours to reach the shop s·he wishes to visit, only to have to join a long line of others waiting to make purchases.
Notwithstanding these frustrations, the serfs continue to embrace shopping with formidable zeal and unblinking devotion.
Perhaps, one day, each and every serf will have purchased each and every item required for complete happiness, whereupon the observance of these rituals will decline. Perhaps…