Tag Archives: consumerism

Wal-Mart Thinks We’re All Criminals

I am not a crook.

Just as a rule, I don’t break laws. That may put me in the minority, especially if you consider traffic violators to be lawbreakers (by the way, the days when cars will automatically drive us where we need to be cannot get here fast enough for me. I firmly believe that driving, like the internet, somehow brings out the worst in people just by its very nature), but I take some pride in being a guy who follows rules, does what’s meant to be done, and by and large and as often as I can, considers the people around him when making a decision.

Despite all this, and despite the fact that I look about as likely to go on a crime spree as to spontaneously break into a ballet dance, Wal-Mart and its subsidiaries think I’m a criminal.

I mean, they must, right? Because I can’t exit their establishment with any amount of goods in my possession without displaying my receipt. It’s been that way at Sam’s Club for a while, but today it happened at the regular old Wal-Mart as well.

Yeah, I know, here I go again with the first-world problems, and this is me making a big gripe over a really minuscule inconvenience, but I’m not so sure it’s minuscule.

Let me be clear: I don’t mind proving that I bought and paid for the things I’m carrying out of the store. That’s fine. What I mind is being detained (let’s not split hairs here, you get stopped on your way out the door while they “check your receipt”) for no other reason than that the store has to double-check and make sure I’m not stealing from them.

Because that’s what they’re doing. There’s really no other way around it. Checking your receipt at the exit isn’t designed to make sure you have the everything you paid for, it isn’t designed to safeguard the nutritional value of the food you’re buying for your family, it isn’t even designed to create jobs for retirees and veterans — that’s just a byproduct (though the fact that they have to take jobs like this is a subject for another post, probably too depressing for me to cover here). No, the business of checking your receipt is designed to ensure that you aren’t walking out with stuff you didn’t pay for.

In other words, that person at the door is there to say to you, “let me make sure you didn’t forget to pay for something,” which is another way of saying, “let’s make sure you aren’t a dirty, stuff-taking thief,” all while they (hopefully) smile at you and (sometimes) wish you a nice day.

And I get it. People steal stuff. Some people steal a lot of stuff. The whole self-checkout thing is throwing a wrench into the works, whether it’s the way forward or not, and there have to be some safeguards in place to make sure people aren’t taking advantage. A company’s within their rights to protect their property through reasonable means (reasonable, I guess, would be an action short of shooting you in the kneecap if you accidentally stuff a bottle of salad dressing into your pocket because your kid started having a fit in the store and you needed both hands on him to wrangle him and usher him out of the store in a hurry, forgetting to pay for the bottle of salad dressing in the process, NOT THAT THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO ANYBODY AROUND HERE *whistles*), and having a person there to check what you’re walking out of the door with certainly isn’t an invasion of privacy or a denial of your human rights. I’m not about to stage a sit-in because a low-wage employee came at me with a highlighter. But does that mean that the company has to operate under the assumption that everybody is a criminal?

It makes me feel icky about shopping there. It’s hard to look past the subtext: “we check everybody’s receipt because everybody is potentially a criminal.” I don’t care how nice the shopping experience is otherwise (and let’s be clear, I’m not saying it is — Sam’s Club is routinely home to the longest and slowest lines I’ve ever seen in retail, and Wal-Mart is… well, let’s just say there’s an entire website dedicated to the ridiculous/sad/terrifying/I-don’t-want-to-live-on-this-planet-anymore experience that is shopping at your local Wal-Mart), the fact that this retailer is silently accusing me of petty theft every time I pass through their doors kinda makes me not want to shop there.

So, for the most part I don’t. Trips to Sam’s and Wally World are few and far between for us these days, for this among other reasons. But every time I check out, and I see people blithely handing over their receipts, I have to wonder if anybody is really thinking about what’s going on there, if they really consider the fact that the retailer they’re giving their hard-earned dollars to silently and discreetly considers them a possible thief just by virtue of having bought something there.

And there’s the fargo’ed up thing. If you walk out ostensibly empty-handed, you don’t get stopped. So I — having just stood in line for fifteen minutes waiting for a dead-in-the-eyes twenty-something to ring up my economy-sized jar of pickles and twenty-pound sack of potatoes and shambling toward my car while carrying a baby in one hand and holding the hand of my three-year-old in the other, and pushing the cart with my third hand OH WAIT I DON’T HAVE A THIRD HAND, I’m doing all this with only the two hands I was born with — I get stopped to have my receipt checked. But the guy who came in, stuffed a couple of fishing rods down his pants legs, a few astonishingly priced shirts under his armpits, a bunch of grapes under his hat and a half dozen batteries up his ass, and then walked out empty-handed because he “didn’t find what he was looking for” doesn’t get smiled at, doesn’t get a highlighter waved in his direction, and in fact goes on to rob the very store that’s giving me such a hard time for shopping there with an ease I can only dream of.

This is our world. Wal-Mart thinks we’re all crooks, but man, just look at those prices! I guess they can think what they want…

Yeezy is for Meezy

Kanye West has a new shoe out.

I know what you’re thinking.

Here comes Pav, to rant and gripe and kvell and moan about the ridiculousness of a sneaker designed by a rapper. Always dumping on the parade, here I go, about to nitpick this perfectly legitimate product into fine microscopic dust for my own bemusement and schadenfreude.

Well, you’d be wrong.

Because I want a pair.

Listen to this, from the company’s own website:

The YEEZY BOOST is Kanye West’s first collaboration with adidas Originals. The limited-edition sneaker is exquisitely designed featuring beautiful yet simple materials. The silhouette transcends footwear trends and champions the next way of thinking about sneaker fashion. Featuring adidas’ coveted boost cushioning technology, the YEEZY BOOST will combine the ultimate in comfort and performance with high-end style.

You hear that? Beautiful yet simple materials. Exquisitely designed. THE SILHOUETTE TRANSCENDS FOOTWEAR TRENDS. Somehow, this man, this legend, this walking incarnation of rap genius, has created a shoe that TRANSCENDS SHOES.

It’s true.


You might be thinking that it looks like the designers cut up some plush elephants and stitched them together with the drawstrings from my old gym shorts. Or maybe that the concept is “footwear for the moon that would actually never work as footwear on the moon.” Or, if you’re a real shallow nutso jerk, that they look like the terrible snowshoes my mother used to make for me by wrapping plastic grocery bags around my feet and tucking them into my socks.

But you’d be wrong again.

I saw these shoes, and I asked myself: what’s important to me in shoes? My answer? The ultimate in performance, COMBINED with high-end style. Something that would be equally at home on a basketball court, going to a baseball game, recording my next studio album, or slipping into a tux for my walk down the red carpet. The red carpet in my backyard. The one that leads to the murder shed. That’s not important. What’s important is that THESE SHOES DO ALL OF THAT. And I need them.

Never mind that they have a $350 price tag. You get what you pay for, and with a price tag like that, you’re buying not only quality, but the peace of mind of knowing that your tootsies are safely swaddled in trimmings carefully selected by Kanye himself for the express purpose of extracting as many of your dollars from your pockets as he can possibly get with a straight face. Never mind that upon their launch, all of the shoes were bought out by other fashion-forward sneakeristas who EMBRACE THE NEXT WAY OF THINKING OF SNEAKER FASHION, and are now being subsequently sold (and bought!) on ebay for upwards of $1000. If comfort and performance matter to you, then money is no object.

But wait. That’s not all.

I clicked around on Adidas’s website. These shoes are just the beginning.

For Autumn/Winter 2015, Kanye West and adidas Originals will unveil a bold new proposition: YEEZY SEASON 1, a collection of apparel and footwear that cherishes universality and timelessness. Described by West as the world’s first ”solutions-based” clothing line, the individual pieces define a style that matches the relentless pace of contemporary lives.

Did I fargoing stutter? This clothing line CHERISHES UNIVERSALITY AND TIMELESSNESS. Finally, I can have a closet full of outfits that I can wear to the corner store, to a meeting with foreign heads of state, or to the exoplanets in the far reaches of our galaxy. And don’t forget all those times I needed to time travel to, say, the old west, or the dawn of recorded history, or even the far-flung future; these clothes will DO IT ALL. And hark! What sweet music is this? West HIMSELF says the line is “solutions-based”! Clothing that solves problems! The clothing that I own doesn’t solve ANY problems — I am living in the past! And holy sharknado on a sandwich, these pieces will match the relentless pace of my contemporary life. I didn’t know until now how much I was lacking clothing that could be described by so many empty buzzwords, but now I DO know, and there’s no going back. Will these clothes also suit the swiftly-changing needs of my active, results-oriented approach to shoving economically-conscious amounts of biodegradable foodstuffs into my face while stimulating my unique educational needs on the sensitively-diverse programs being delivered conveniently into my home by ecologically-friendly wires and cables? One can only hope.

There are no pictures or pricetags available for the YEEZY SEASON 1 clothing line, but I can only imagine that in keeping with the YEEZY BOOST shoes, their designs will be tasteful and affordable enough for the everyday consumer, yet flashy and exclusive enough to satisfy my inner baller.

I know what you’re thinking.

Kanye West is taking advantage of herd mentality, of hero worship, of idol emulation and an ever-growing culture of status rooted in possessions to pick the pockets of people who should maybe be spending their hard-earned money on more sensible things. You’d be wrong. Kanye is designing a quality product for people who know what they want, as long as what they want is to look like fools and to self-identify as such by shelling out truly frightening amounts of money for shoes that look worse than if they were designed by a three-year-old with an inability to process spatial relationships. Kanye is filling a void in the marketplace. Kanye is as good a clothing designer as he is a rapper… maybe even more so.

Don’t hate the player.

Hate the transcendent silhouette on these motherfargoing shoes.

Er, I mean, hate the game.

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