Today is Boxing Day here in the land of Bowler hats and Yorkshire Puddings so for those unfamiliar with this particular holiday of ours, allow me to explain; on Christmas Day we celebrate the birth of baby Jeebus by giving and getting gifts of expense and avarice in a thinly veiled attempt at one-upmanship. The day after – Boxing Day – we take to the streets with those self same presents, now beautifully re-packaged in original boxes and paper, and join the ever growing queue of consumers eager to return said goods for the cash value equivalent or some store credit for the New Year sales.
And as the streets stand oddly empty and eerily quiet, a single sheet of newspaper being blown forlornly through the air, signs of life can be spotted through the festive windows of retail; espied through the faux snow and cheerful cardboard Santa’s that festoon the frontage, they can be found, standing en masse in an ever increasing line of receipt rustling Britainers.
Items sold on the promise of happiness forever and a life yet unlived sit sullen and ignored – in as close to its original packaging as could be found (‘…did this have an insert or not, goddamnit!?!’) – in the unloving grasp and at uncaring feet of men and womenfolk alike. These people, these magnificent people, not more than twenty four of the English Queens hours ago, went fully armed and fully prepared to do what was necessary to secure little Tamsins ‘Essex Girls Lambo and Lambrini Deluxe’ (miniskirt sporting and enhanced attributes doll sold separately) box-set; these very people of heroic valour now stand doe-eyed and broken, head bowed and numb, a shadow of their former selves. Their thousand yard stares remain affixed upon the heels of the person in front as nothing – save for an occasional shuffle in the direction of the front of the line as their numbers quietly thin – rouses them from their own private worlds.
|…a women’s sale!|
Sale signs replace Christmas wishes as the indoctrination of the past few weeks weigh heavy on the minds of those, now fully refunded and looking to spend, patrol the enticement laden aisles; each to a man with a desperate look in their eye, as they strain and struggle to quell the impulse to purchase ‘this’ in favour of maybe finding a better ‘that’ just one aisle over. Families stand around whole sections of discounted fruit, discussing the merits and positivity’s of a wholly Vegan diet with a passion and at full volume, as the seasonal brainwashing gently loses its control of their thoughts and they struggle to form new ones of their own.
|…what strange hieroglyphs are these?|
Some return with absolutely no shame to be seen, sale item in hand, to the self-same cashier who refunded them the pre-sale price of the exact self-same item they now wish to purchase at considerable discount.
And through this small show we start to see the gentle passing of the season, as pre-Christmas offers becomes post-Christmas sales. As the day wears on and the hour to early closing nears the sight of a shop worker standing by the big double doors, key in hand and looking at his watch, officially signals the beginning of this event, and is marked by the sights of people committing to purchase things that no normal sane man could find use or wont for. A 32inch HD TV with a big black crack down the screen? No thanks! What; five percent off? Where’s my credit card?!?!
|…it’s the goddamn LAW!|
The weak and fragile are left at the cafes and Costa’s as their responsible guardian puts foot to floor and elbow to jaw in a magnificent display of single mindedness that, if it had an appreciable variable to measure, would stand as equal next to the cast iron rules of Finders-Keepers, Because I Said So, and The Three Second Rule.
And as the year long drive to get us buying even more than we thought our credit would allow begins its annual push towards its own self-destruction at the hands of those who want much but can afford to pay little even if it is over a really long time at surprisingly low, low interest, I am moved to think of those who truly stand in need of support through this time. Those oft insulted and much ignored ignoble men/women-folk of the world who choose to stand, badge on lapel, hat on head and soul destroyingly cheesy slogan emblazed across their shirts, at the very jaws of retail itself; the till staff.
|‘Um…I slipped and fell on it..?’|
Those poor, gentle fools who must endure every conceivable lie, every unbelievable tale, each customer feels his duty to tell in an effort to secure a full refund. Blatant lies and back-room bean counters tear them apart as they struggle to live up to the companies ‘give the customer whatever they want’ policy as well as hitting impossible-for-the-time-of-year targets.
|…I wub ewe…|
Justified come-uppance for the remaining time of the year they treat customers like scum and balk at the very idea they deign to acknowledge your presence before them, you may say. And yes, for some it is.
But for those who are living on the very edge of time, those seasonal workers who know only that their time at the company will be mercifully brief during this hellish time but won’t get to complete the gentle balancing act of the Universe and become the snobbish arses mentioned not three sentences back?
They’re probably out the back…
|‘Come on, come on; there’s loads of room left..!’|
…nicking the stock.