Wednesday, June 9, 2010


It seems like this has been my mantra for several months. Not that this is a new idea to me. It's that lately the sentiment comes with an exclamation point.

I'm sure this is in large part due to my move to the suburbs. Uhgh. I understand that busy, important people need to get where they're going fast. I just wish they'd consider the beating heart and smooshy, tender brains inside the person on the bike they just nearly ran over with their SUV. I understand that people have no idea what else they're supposed to do besides run all manner of internal combustion engines over their quarter acre lawn and spray gallons of poisons to keep the drug dependent carpets glowing green. I understand that people need to buy and sell and make a living. But I just don't drink the kool-aid that makes me think all this noise and waste and poison is awesome. 

This really started building this spring when I applied for a job at a local running store. I call it a running store because they market mostly to runners. I run. I love running. I also hike and bike and swim. I've been doing these things for many years, so I figured I could be useful there and enjoy the interactions with people. (Okay, and I'm a teacher looking for work in the wrong place at the wrong time.) I sat down and talked to the management. I rode my bike to the interview, and I'm pretty sure that that threw off the stuffy old lady (without a strand of hair askew) that interviewed me first. She had a pinched little squirmy look on her face that made me want to jump from the fancy store balcony, run past her shiny Lexus, and pedal away on my bike. I couldn't help but get the impression that she was offended that I'd come to a job interview on a bike. She was really proud of the indoor rainforest that filled half of the store, though! Afterward, I started looking around at people running. Everywhere there seemed to be a perfectly matched little running outfit bouncing up and down along the sidewalk. I started seeing ads for running gear and stickers and water bottles and it's all fun and games until you forget that it's JUST RUNNING! All you need are some socks and shoes to do it. You don't even need special breathable undies and a technical fabric t-shirt and an iPod holder and Gatorade and barefeet-shaped plastic shoes. Not that you can't use some of that stuff. The running store is full of overpriced nonsense. The management barely does any running or hiking themselves. Yet, we're all buying what they're pushing. (Okay, perhaps I would have made a terrible salesperson.)

Yesterday I went into a greenhouse looking for bell peppers because I'd somehow forgotten to pick up pepper plants. After shuffling through a local greenhouse full of extra-fancy garden gloves and metallic orbs and sun hats and garden videos and rocks with words on them and other shiny objects, I had that feeling again... the feeling I had in the running store that is also a rainforest. As I added up the cost of the plants I'd picked out I thought, "These people aren't selling me what I want. They're selling me dreams. Dreams I don't need." So, I walked out. I went down the road to a different, humbler greenhouse I'd never visited before. Turns out they were having a sale: $.49 for all plants. Each plant a buck fifty cheaper than the other greenhouse, so I got enough to fill the rest of my garden beds! And none of that "You're not cool enough until you buy one of these, and some of these, and lots of these" hypnotizing I'm sick of.

I followed my gut when it said, "ENOUGH!"  I just couldn't take anymore of the ostentatious show in place of authenticity. I'm weary of being sold the idea of something, instead of simply finding quality goods and services and knowledgeable, engaged people. Listen people, I do these things (running and gardening) so that I can create my own experience. I don't need to be sold your idea of the experience. I just need some plants, some seeds, some running shoes. I won't be shopping at those places that feel they need to sell me their dreams. I'm perfectly capable of creating those myself, thank you very much.


Sarah said...

This post spoke so loudly to me, I yelled 'YES!' to no one in particular. As always, your insight is stunning and you continually make me smile. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Melissa said...

I'm with you most of the time! Sorry you have to live in an area that this stands out. I love the mtns in the country, no one judges (that I can see). :)

Molly said...

Thanks, I was just extra-perturbed by it lately. It's easy enough just to tune it out. But it does creep in if you're not careful.