So I’m walking through the Metro Market today, and some guy working there practically sings out to me as I’m passing him, saying, “while you shop or while you dine, enjoy some beer or have some wine.” (Slight paraphrase, probably.) And I’m thinking, why do companies think such inanities help sell anything? Who are these marketing droids anyway? Are they, in fact, really human?
Look: in real life (i.e., the thing we live in), people do not, in fact, talk in rhyming trochees. As much as the notion of drunken shopping might appeal, this kind of approach actively repels me. And it’s not the guy’s fault, of course: unless he’s the kind of guy who tries to organize a swing choir amongst his neighbors, he was most likely told that he had to say this, in so many words, by some brilliant management type. I really dislike the fact that more and more jobs essentially require people to humiliate themselves in public. I’m thinking of the poor folks hired (no doubt at minimum wage) to stand out in the freezing cold and rain to stand on a corner and wiggle an oversized guitar advertising pizza, or even (although this leaps on over into actively annoying) the folks at cell-phone stands in malls who accost you with questions like, “sir, may I ask you who’s your service provider?” (The answer I really want to give to this one – if I were suddenly granted the power of invincibility – is “your mother.”)
What’s amusing is that all of these folks are compelled to speak in ways that normal humans just living their lives do not speak. The cold-calling salesperson phoning you at work, for example: invariably, the call begins something like “and how are you doing today?” This is not a question anyone actually calling a business for legitimate purposes asks. This is not a question anyone making a personal call to someone at work asks. This is a question only asked by people forced to be annoying for a living.
Most people do not enjoy watching others (have to) humiliate themselves. Some years ago, a local judge got the brilliant idea that people would be less likely to commit various minor crimes (like drunk driving) if, as part of their punishment, they’d have to stand in a public place wearing a sandwich board saying something like MY NAME IS BRUCE TINSLEY AND I AM A DRUNK DRIVER. (Note: the name “Bruce Tinsley” should not be taken as a reference to the
drunk artist behind the idiotic conservative “comic” “Mallard Fillmore.” It’s just a coincidence, the sort of thing that happens when a blogger just comes up with a random cramming together of first and last name.) While that would surely be a disincentive (and almost as surely not be the sort of thing you’re going to remember while drunkenly reeling past the rhyming bartender at the Metro Market for the fifteenth time), what made me angry about this policy is that it also assaults innocent members of the general public with this poor shmuck’s humiliation. I did nothing to deserve having to watch this guy be forced to feel red-hot shame on a public street corner; leave me out of it.
Okay, I’m probably just a bitter old fart who should give it a rest already and not be put out by the fact that people are forced to act like asses to earn a few measly dollars. But the irony here is: if that rhyming dude had just had a big old sign in front of him, or even just said, like a normal person, “hey – how about a beer while you’re shopping?” I might have never written this. Because I’d be drunk instead, awkwardly getting Buffalo sauce on my shirt while grabbing another sample wing from the deli counter.