Monday, June 29, 2020

We're committed to giving back.

I just got back from the supermarket. I go every Sunday morning during old-people hours and pick up the week's groceries, usually with a wife-scrawled shopping list which she somehow manages to write on a small shred of paper in about 2.5-pt. type, mostly because she knows I never bring my reading glasses.

After 36 years of marriage, I admire a lot about my ever-loving. Perhaps most prominent among those admirable traits is her manner of finding new ways to enervate me.

Nevertheless, as someone who's wired to take in a lot of stimulus, I tend to read everything around me. I notice signs, names and messages wherever they are. It's one of those things that keep me going. No matter where I am and where I travel, I always find something odd that makes me laugh. Or angry.

This morning in the supermarket, I saw a poster they had hung up at the entrance, right next to the obligatory cistern of Purell. There was a sign that said, "Now featuring Customer Friendly Pricing."

That phrase struck me. It made me think about the marketing lies that surround us--no matter where we go.

What in god's name is "customer friendly pricing"? What is non-customer friendly pricing? Gouging? Or, is there special pricing that excludes me, a non-friendly customer? More pointedly, why proclaim words that are devoid of meaning?

I remember riding in the front seat of a Lincoln Town Car some years ago on my way with a bunch of colleagues to  client presentations. These words were emblazoned in chrome script on the car's glove-box: "Ride engineered." 

I remember that the marketing department of that client was on the 18th Floor of 48 Wall Street. The senior executives sat on the 3rd Floor. The client sitting on the 18-story insisted that we go "up to 3."

Oh. OK. 

After about an hour, I got home with 49 bags, mostly filled with yeast which was back in stock. My wife, as usual had National Public Radio on. NPR is supposed to be commercial-free but seemingly 20-minutes of every broadcast hour has some promotional announcement. "NPR is brought to your by America's Chemical Companies. Killing people, rivers and the environment in equal measure. America's Chemical Companies: No lives matter. Especially yours."

As I walked in, I heard one of those promotional announcements from JP Morgan Chase, a bank with a $285 billion market-cap and almost $3 trillion in assets under management. The announcement said something about JP Morgan Chase "giving back." Since the rise of the Trumputsch state, taxes paid by major banks have dropped by around 33%.

Giving back. Customer friendly pricing. Ride engineered. War is Peace. Shortage is plenty. Sickness is health. Lack of care is caring. Infecting others is freedom. 

You get it.

That's enough giving back for me today.

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