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Hogarth judge

February 2018



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Hogarth judge

A failed attempt to preserve human dignity

I go into a chain bookstore, select the book I was looking for (Better Off Without 'Em by Chuck Thompson) and take it to the counter.

When I get there, the clerk begins a memorized patter about their repeat customer reward program. This cues one of my less elaborate scripts:

"I understand how your rewards program works, and I don't want to buy a membership, thanks."

He keeps going on about the rewards program, how it could save me money, how worthwhile it will be for Christmas. This is especially annoying. I don't want to be hearing about goddamn Christmas in September. So I escalate to Level 2 of my script.

"Somebody must be watching you real close to make sure you say all this stuff, aren't they?"

Amazingly, the script he had memorized anticipated this and has a canned response:

- "No, I really believe in this program, and wanted to make sure you were aware of all the benefits....."

He then slips into the bag a brochure inviting me to subscribe to magazines as well. I remove the brochure from the bag and handed it back, saying that I did not want it.

This has me in a black mood. I tried to pull the fellow out of it, to get him to relate as a human being again. I failed. I fucking failed.

One thing's for damn sure: next time I want a book, I order it online.


Have you read Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich? She talks about working in things like Wal-Mart, but there's practically no difference between that and the chain bookstores.