Going into Labor Day
I need the life version of an epidural because I am decidedly suffering from intense labor pains.
For most Americans (at least those not in the burgeoning service industry) Labor Day is traditionally recognized as a day of respite from toil. That means a lot of Americans get the day off. For some, the day represents the unofficial end of summer. For others it represents the start of something new, like the NFL season.
For others, however, the day is just like any other. A lot of people with service industry jobs will still be out there working. That’s probably a lot of people since these days the service sector accounts for the majority of American jobs. Less and less we actually make stuff in the good ol’ USA and more and more we are all out servicing each other. So to speak.
Personally I look forward to the day when we all work from home and no one ever goes anywhere. All the cities will be ghost towns and our highways will be empty. It’ll be a dream come true. Of course there will be no water, food, clothing, electricity, housing, toilet paper and other essentials like electronics unless they are imported, presumably by some sort of transporter technology. All the truck drivers will be working service jobs, too.
Speaking of dreams, yours truly decidedly does not have one when it comes to Labor Day. I’ll merely be experiencing additional labor pains as I schlep my useless carcass down to my dead-end job. Technically I’m not in the “service sector” as my job is theoretically technical. But in practice the technical duties I perform are the smallest slice of the pie chart that represents my day. Bigger slices on that graph are consumed by providing “customer service” on the phone (since it is imperative that every call be answered even if only by a miserable idiot like me who can only respond “I don’t know” all day long) and retail sales on the floor.
My wife has Labor Day off but I won’t be spending the day with her. For her sake I hope she has a backup lover to keep her occupied.
If you want the real history of Labor Day, check out Wikipedia. I just did and learned a few new things. If you are like me and working at a job you hate tomorrow, consider it a temporary distraction from your misery.
For me, Labor Day seems like a good time as any to consider my current situation in life. I’ll just go ahead and keep those ponderings to myself. I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say it’s not good.
Today’s Los Angeles Times brings us a bit of interesting news: Some economists are now predicting that even if our economy bounces back the unemployment rate is not expected to do the same. They are saying it might be years or even decades before our labor market recovers after (hopefully) our economy rebounds.
One thing seems certain: As less of us have jobs and unemployment benefits dry up, there is going be a shortage of another valuable resource that is sometimes a wee bit beneficial to economies. Consumers with disposable money are a fairly vital ingredient to keeping other people in jobs making stuff and providing services. As less of us are able to spend I personally look forward to seeing what might happen. It should be a lot of fun. I’m stocking up on popcorn.
In the meantime it looks like there just might be a lot more boot licking in my future. But that’s all in a day’s work when one finds himself In the service of the King.
Get your coupon freak on
A question I’ve often asked myself: If you have to spend money to “save” money have you really “saved” anything?
Something tells me Benjamin Franklin would say, “no.” Saving is saving and spending is spending and never the twain shall meet.
Last night we went to visit some friends we hadn’t seen for a while. We handed over our coats, settled in and made idle chit chat while their kids ran around screaming.
I’m not sure when it happened, but at one point our hostess disappeared and starting fiddling around in their pantry. She left the pantry door open and I peaked inside. My first thought was, “Wow. Look at the size of that thing.” My second thought, however, was, “Look at all that stuff!”
On those pantry shelves was an amazing accumulation of stuff. It looked very much like a well-stocked grocery store. There were multiples of every item. Five boxes of Cherrios, five boxes of Frosted Flakes, five boxes of Fruit Loops, and multiples on practically every other item as well, like Dow Scrubbing Bubbles, shampoo, deodorant, Rice-A-Roni, air freshners and much, much more.
“Holy cow,” I said. “You have your own little mini-mart in there!”
The wife of a fireman who works 48-hour shifts, our friend has had some interesting hobbies and habits as she spends a rather unusual amount of time home alone. She has always really been in to watching TV. She has all the channels and a DVR and has made it a way of life.
But now, she explained to us, she has a new hobby. It’s known as couponing. My web browser may not understand the word (and highlights it as misspelled) but punch it in a search engine and you’ll see that the internet certainly does.
“It’s a great way to save money,” she said, “especially if you aren’t picky about what you get.”
So it’s her new hobby. Her latest obsession. She says she can often go hours at it and gets things she doesn’t even need. (I even saw containers of anti-constipation stuff.) She also admitted that she’s spending money to get some of these deals – like “buy one get one free” or “save 50 cents on purchase,” etc.
Is it just me or does that sound a bit nuts? Spending money to get things you don’t really need and sometimes things you don’t even want. And I couldn’t help but notice that a lot of the things she gets are highly processed and/or full of chemicals. Ugh.
I’ve heard modern lore that if you apply yourself, do it intelligently and put in the time, couponing can lead to cart-loads of deals. I’ve heard of $125 trips that we completely free. I admit if it is usable stuff that I’d otherwise mostly want then that’s probably pretty cool. No doubt it would be a more productive use of my time than sitting on my ass.
So my friend has a hobby and like most hobbies, it isn’t too surprising if it ends up costing a bit of money. If she enjoys it as such then good for her.
When we left their house that night she loaded us down with four bags of stuff. I tried to refuse but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. We had breakfast cereal (although she kept the Fruit Loops for herself, dammit), scrubbing bubbles, body wash, deodorant, and chicken-flavored Rice-A-Roni. Since we’re vegetarian we gave the Rice-A-Roni to the gerbil who seemed quite excited to have a free meal and immediately made himself a box.
Getting back what you already had
What on Earth could possibly be more exciting that getting cash back??? ZOMG! Where do I sign up. Please hurry. I can’t wait!!!
Some people spell it “cash back.” Some others spell it “cashback.” No matter how you spell it, who gives a shit?
We get bombarded by this sort of marketing “logic” on a daily basis:
5% cash back credit cards!
Cash back coupons!
Cash back offer!
Top 5 Cash Back Cards!
Start Making Money!
Cash Back Rewards!
The list of this sort of thing is quite long. Obviously this sort of ploy works well on the weak-minded. Much like a Jedi mind trick, I assume. I mean, it must be effective, right? Why else would they keep doing it?
We critical thinkers, though, we know better. We know the piece of magic that powers this logic, that same piece of magic they that so conveniently neglect to point out when they are yelling about cold hard cash.
Step One: You Give Us Your Money!
In the name of fairness I went ahead and included the exclamation point there. Somehow if the ads screamed something like that we’d be less than thrilled, right?
Step Two: At some point in the future if we feel like it we may give you some of your own money back.
Seriously. I fail to see the attraction here. I don’t get it. Maybe someone out there can ‘splain it to me. If you can, I’ll be in your debt. (Heh!)