|One Thanksgiving guest who's still here|
It being Cyber Monday, the online equivalent of Black Friday, I offer an earlier musing on some WNY- style retail therapy...
It’s amazing how, in
America, you’re never too far from the old Wild West. We have an annual rodeo
and an Indian reservation nearby, but I’m not just talking cowboys and Indians.
The Dr Quack salesmen who once travelled around in their wagons, peddling
miracle cures, are still out in force. Their methods may be modern but they
haven’t forgotten the old PT Barnum line, “There’s a sucker born every minute”.
So TV adverts offer wonder gadgets to vacuum your carpet, freshen your air,
sweep your floors, send you to sleep, better than anything sold by any rival
and no, folks, you can’t get them in the shops but only by calling right now
and parting with your credit card details.
Even in the
equivalent of the High Street, there’s no escape. I was in a certain well-known
chain store, when a middle-aged, suntanned chap with tinted glasses and a
selection of gold necklaces festooned round his neck drew near. “Ma’am “ he
said, “Just letting you know about our raffle at the jewellery section in ten
minutes’ time - and here’s a free ticket.” He gabbled on incomprehensibly but I
had caught the word “free.” So after ten minutes, I regret that I furtively
made my way to the jewellery section.
A small crowd had gathered: several
women, a couple of men, a small boy. None of them looked in the best of
financial shape. Western New York is a long way from Manhattan.
Mr Suntan hopped up on his stand, “Thank you
for coming folks and we sure need you to help us today with this promotion.
Yes, folks, you’ll be helping us and yes, folks, I promise you there’ll be a
raffle in just a few minutes but first I need to ask you folks to help us in
some market research..”
He picked up a
necklace. “Folks, this gold necklace over silver (I think we were meant to miss
that last bit) is worth a hundred dollars – now how many people like this
necklace?” Hands went up eagerly. “Now, how many of you men” – he fixed them
with a glinting eye – “have an anniversary coming up?”
The men looked sheepish. He flourished a
sparkling bracelet, “Well, ha ha, of course these aren’t REAL diamonds. If they
were, they’d be two thousand dollars, but they’re much brighter - see.”
got to the best bit. “And now, how many people believe in Guardian Angels?” This being America, several hands shot up.
“This”, he cried triumphantly, “is the
perfect present for kids too young for cell phones……a GUARDIAN ANGEL
WHISTLE!!!!! You just blow,”
– he tooted
“ and call your Guardian
Angel for help!
And - you can have all
these for SIXTY-FIVE dollars!!”
voice dropped a perceptible note. “I have to do all this myself today. Usually
my son helps, but he’s sick.”
worked a treat. Mothers who’d come in with no intention of buying jewellery
scrabbled in their purses.
There was a
raffle eventually. The small boy, whose name was Caleb, picked a ticket – his
dad’s. “Trained him well,” blushed Dad. The prize was, surprise, surprise, the
cheapest thing on the stand.