Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 29

All Math used below is the product of a caffeine addled mind that never passed a single algebra class without having to take a make up exam at the end of the year (thanks Mrs. Collins), at 1:30 in the morning. In other words, it's entirely accurate and precise.

The collective IQ of the average Borders customer has dropped easily 15 points since liquidation began.

How do i know this? Well, i don't. It's just a guess. But it is based on some things that i've been seeing and hearing, and some things that, alone, would mean nothing, but when you take them in concert they seem to tell a story. And that story is that bargain shoppers are stupid assholes.

Now I know that seems harsh, and...well I guess it is. I don't mean people that are looking for a good deal, but i mean "bargain shoppers" people who only want to buy something because they got it more cheaply than the person before them. Those people are why the economy went cygnus x-1 back in 2008. They get this wide eyed berserker rage whenever prices/interest rates/derivatives become super cheap and then turn green and rip their purple pants to shreds, except for the bits that protect their modesty. They want to smash their competition into tiny bits and the cudgel they use is progressive discounting.

So anyway, i've seen some stuff. and i've heard some stuff. Lets get into that.

I have seen so many mixed martial arts enthusiasts in the last three weeks its insane. I mean, a lot. I know this because they wear t-shirts proclaiming their love for various local and national MMA organisations. Tap Out is practically the uniform of a good 15 percent of the male visitors to the store. Now, i don't intrinsically have an issue with MMA, i think its fun as hell to watch until they just start cradling each others heads with each others crotches. I suppose for the super MMA fan that's when it gets exciting, but I frankly just want to watch one guy feed another guy his toes. I've gone on about borders clientele before, and I wouldn't generalise about MMA fans and say they don't like to read, I'm sure there are hundreds of titles we sell that would appeal to even the most myopic lover of the Octagon, but the sudden influx of them is questionable to me. Why are they in this concentration all of a sudden? Where was this Octagon Army 6 weeks ago? 6 months? Its a bizarre phenomenon, and one that i think in conjunction with several other things points to something strange happening to our demographic.

Rich people. OMYGOD. RICH. PEOPLE. If pluto isn't a planet anymore (or is, i dunno who can keep up) then it must have lost it's spot to the enormous diamond on the hand of a woman i held the door for today. I'm not a fashionista, but i've done my time with project runway. I know my Hermes from My Coach. well...not mine, none of it's mine, first of all I just wouldn't, and second of all, I couldn't. Anyhow, my point is while I couldn't label couture walking down the street I can tell when i've encountered something out of my price range by a career or two. That happened on my way back from dinner this evening. This woman was holding the hand of her daughter whose shoes cost more than the college i dropped out of. I held the door for them, noticed the remnant from the last ice age on her hand and then stepped back as the enormous brick wall of a man who accompanied her stepped through the door. I thought, well there's an attractive couple, and wealthy too. They must have been saints in a past life to be reincarnated into this one. But then it got weird. They walked over to a Rolls Royce (the second one i've encountered in our parking lot since we began liquidation, the second one i've ever encountered in our parking lot) He opened the door for the lady and the little girl and they got into the back seat. He got into the front and drove them away. This is not the first time i've spotted evidence of ludicrously wealthy people in our store. We are in a fairly affluent area, major military contractors being based mere feet from our location, but its not a chauffeur and body guard kind of affluent. It's a lacrosse and "The City" (meaning NY) on weekends kind of affluent. But the sheer amount of luxury SUV's and small dogs in purses, and alcohol on the breath at 3 in the afternoon, occurrences are making me wonder...what the hell do these people need to save money for?

Then there is the trail of peppers. Yeah, peppers. Tiny little green peppers. A trail of them leading out of the mens room onto the floor. What? Like some strange chile-head hansel and gretl leaving a trail so they don't get lost. first of all, who carries peppers in their pockets? did they have a bag of peppers that leaked? Occams razor is too limited to deal with this conundrum(obviously that's hyperbole, don't you dare comment on how that's wrong)!

And of course there is the time that someone stole a spinner rack. Hows that you say? I have no idea but I do know that one Thursday I sold the spinner rack to a gentleman and that said gentleman travelled with $$$ to the spinner rack to deposit his sold sticker on it. I know that because I witnessed it. So either someone just popped open our cafe door when no one was looking and wheeled it via a hand truck to their vehicle, or he or she removed the sold sticker and purchased it and took it. Either way when the gentleman I sold it to and $$$ stickered it for showed up to claim it, it was gone. So happy times for a co-worker, i'm code naming Moonshine, who got to be yelled at by the irate guy. Who does that? Who steal fixtures who then comes in to find a stolen fixture and instead of trying to ferret out the mystery yells at Moonshine, a person who had nothing to do with it?

And the puke, can't forget the puke. I'm drunk since mardi gras so i puked in multiple locations in your store so i know which spots are mine.

This little nugget:

"Sir you haven't signed your bank card do you have id?"

"Its for 4 dollars."

"Right but I need to know this is your card."

"For 4 dollars? No wonder you guys are going out of business."

"For trying to protect you from identity theft?"

Yes Doctor Salk, we are going out of business because we care too much about the sanctity of your credit worthiness. What. a. jack. hole.

"What do you mean you don't have Yummy? It's a summer reading title?"

One wonders why parents think I'm going to believe them or pick their side when they throw their kid under the bus and say to me "of course he doesn't try to get his summer reading books until now." Really, was your 3rd grader supposed to drive here, whip out her wad o cash from the lucrative pokemon trades she's been working, and buy her list of 17 books? Oh right, that would be absurd. Don't give me that working parent I don't have time bullshit, either. You just didn't give a damn or lost track of time. My mother was a single mother going to college all week and working all weekend playing music in gin joints and eagles clubs all over New England to raise money to support me. I had every book I needed to read, when I needed to read it. I had shoes and clothes and notebooks and pencils and trapper keepers with awesome robots on them. So please, spare me. MY mom didn't even have Amazon. If you drove here, if My store is your go to spot for your kids books, if its the first stop and you didn't give any consideration to...oh i don't know, a library, then your child being without his school supplies is your fault, not your kids, not Barack Obamas, not NO Child left behind. Yours. And if you can't afford them, that's what libraries are for. you know...libraries big buildings where everything is FREE (for the end user). I should note that this particular beast emerges from hibernation every late august, but the complete lack of comprehension that we are going out of business from this years brood, and their profound vilification and calumny of me and my company puts them in a new class in my humble opinion.

I guess what this says to me is that the "Bargain Shopper" cuts a wider swath across the cultural fabric of our nation than perhaps the audio/biblio/cine/cafe-o phile does. So, when your message is "buy here cheap" instead of "buy funky/smart/fun/yummy here" you get just a wider representation of everyone. Now when you pair that with the quadrupling of feet in our store at any given time, you then get a bigger number of that wider representation. So while you may normally have 3 percent of your shoppers be of the unrelateably rich variety, suddenly that 3 percent becomes 6 percent (because you get an increased number of that representation) and then when 3 percent might have been 6 actual individuals, you now have that 6 percent equalling 48 individuals. A number that means your probably going to bump into them. That's just math.

What it also says to me is that idiot/jerk concentration of our customers is growing in conjunction with the discount. I guess that makes sense and isn't a surprise to anyone. I guess what saddens me, is that the good customers don't seem to be balancing that out. You'd think that concentration would increase too, but it seems like instead of increasing it's just boiling off. The good customers are being squeezed out, at least in so far as the amount of attention we can pay them, by the increased concentrations of assholes.

I feel like I'm in some post modern play where all of the customers have "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" written in lipstick on their foreheads and once ever 3 minutes they begin quoting Ayn Rand in unison. I feel like some play-write from cold war USSR is writing my story at gun point as a part of some grand Kremlin inspired propaganda initiative about the evils of capitalism. At the end of the play the stage will go dark and a single actor-cum-gulag slave will cross to center stage and say "we have played the game of vipers and we've been poisoned, Not even Marx can save us now. Lay the hammer and sickle down and close your eyes. Wait silently for winter" The stage goes dark. A single gunshot is heard. The sound of siberian denim being dragged across the floor, and outside comrade usher begins changing the "starring" credit on the marquis.

I don't want to be a Soviet era morality tale.


  1. Siberian Denim would be a great name for an Eastern European Bon Jovi cover band.

  2. I've also noticed the influx of uber-wealthy people & their complaints about how "expensive" everything is. I can't speak for everyone else's experience, but it seems to me that those who could actually use a discount are the ones actually less likely to complain about prices.

  3. You say the good customers seem to be "boiling off." I can't speak to my being a good customer (Borders Alumna that I am), but walking into my local Borders floors me. I am torn between sadness over losing Borders, friends losing jobs and an overwhelming urge to beat the shit out of that douche that left piles of books in the corner.