30 November 2002
If the country's economy depended on me, we'd be in far worse shape than we are. Though
there might be those who say I have been known to be a bit spendy at times (such as my
support of Amazon.com), I basically buy very little. It's only recently that I've begun to
look at clothes, since I could finally leave Omar the Tentmaker behind and actually look
on the rack for a change. I buy groceries, of course, but that's a necessity. I don't do
jewels, or expensive tsatskes. I don't even buy film any more, since I entered the
digital age--that got rid of film, developing, scrapbooks, and the detritis that went
along with the scrapbooking hobby. I rarely go to the movies. My trips to theatre are paid
for by the folks who want reviews. I've probably finished buying all the biking
"essentials" (and non-essentials) until I decide to go professional (yeah, right). Other than
books (and a lesssening number of those as the years pass), there's very little I actually
spend money on.
I know that there are people who "go shopping" for fun. They have nothing in
particular that they need to buy, but they enjoy wandering the malls and picking up things
that appeal to them. That has rarely been me. I'll "go shopping" as a social
activity, if a friend wants to go window shop, but to do it alone, forget it.
So it would seem that "Buy Nothing Day" wouldn't really affect me.
It seems that for most people across the country, today is the biggest shopping day of
the year. I listened to the radio on my way home from my mother's and it was a one-hour
report of which malls had the most traffic, and interviews with people about how long they
waited in line and how much they intended to buy. It's the national holiday of
In opposition, there is a group which has declared this as "Buy Nothing Day," the idea behind
it being to send a message to corporate America that conspicuous consumption has gotten
totally out of hand. (No, this is not a holiday that Ned dreamed up--though I'm sure he
would have, if it had occurred to him!)
If enough jammers turn their disaffection into resistance for just one day, November
29 could mark the delivery of a landmark social message. More than a million people will
celebrate 11 years of opposition on the unofficial "opening day" of the
Christmas frenzy. Play this one right and we will make Buy Nothing Day 2002 a global event
on par with Earth Day.
I figured this one was a no brainer. I had nothing planned for the day. I was going to
get up, have breakfast with my mother, visit for a bit, get into my rented SUV and drive
home. I would put the bike in the car, take it back to Enterprise Rent-a-Car (where it is
already paid for, so I figure that's not cheating), get on my bike and bike home again.
I am a conscientious citizen. I have done my part to wipe out conspicuous consumption
in my little neck of the woods.
But it was more difficult than I expected. For one thing, my mother came home from her
hair appointment with tales of wonderful values at Macy*s. And customer service the like
of which one does not find in department stores these days. Plus free truffles to all
customers. Savings of as much as 75%, depending on what you bought. I suddenly thought of
a dozen things I could shop for in Macy*s.
But no. I would be strong.
The newspaper was full of ads for one-day only specials on things that I couldn't help
but think would be wonderful Christmas or birthday gifts for so-and-so. But I tried not to
read them too careully.
Instead, I got into the car and headed home. I realized that for the first time, I
would be driving by Costco without a bike rack on the back of the car, and I could
actually go in and shop at the discount warehouse.
But that would entail...uh...shopping...so I passed it by as well.
The lines of traffic on the offramps leading to the malls were enough of a deterrent to
exiting (plus the cars parked miles away from the mall itself, with dedicated shoppers
trudging back, heavily laden like beasts of burden), but I began, instead, to think about
having lunch. Obviously a stop at a fast food place was out of the question. And realized
that we were out of things like bread. And fruit. But to stock up would mean buying food,
and this was buy nothing day. So when I got home, I unearthed an old WeightWatchers tv
dinner and had that for lunch.
I returned the car and rode my bike home, stopping at the office en route, and not
giving in to the temptation to take a turn around Longs to see if there were any great
bargains, or dropping into the Nugget Market for a sniff at the freshly baked bread and
the other goodies on sale.
Once home, I put the bike away, got into comfy clothes and locked the front door. I had
successfully avoided buying anything today, but there were still all those pop-up ads on
the Internet for things I couldn't live without, and 1-800 numbers on television for
things I could get at rock bottom prices if I called in the next ten minutes.
At the end of the day, I have managed not to spend a penny. I didn't even go home over
a bridge where I had to pay a toll. So I have survived Buy Nothing Day and have bought
But I have this long list of things I want to go and look at tomorrow first thing. I
wonder how early the stores will be open....