Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reprioritizing and raging

Sunday morning, I visited my local Target store for the first time in over a month. Crazy, yes, that I've been away from my favorite store for so long; when we were in diapers, I was there at least once a week, dropping $50 or more each time on stuff we may or may not really have needed. I could always convince myself that the spending was ok -- after all, these are the lowest prices around! I've always been a frugal girl, not really a shopaholic, but something about Target made it easy to spend my money.

Three things have always struck me as amazing at Target: (1) The parking lot is ALWAYS full to capacity (especially between Halloween and mid-January when folks are in their holiday shopping frenzy); (2) You can always find folks with wild, gleeful eyes wheeling around carts full of mediocre-quality stuff for their homes; and (3) Even though the mark-downs on the little tags on the shelf show a price difference of only about 20 cents, the red-and-white sign in front of any product triggers the "buy it now!" effect in us bargain shoppers.

This week was different. The parking lot had plenty of spaces. In fact, I parked right near the door -- at 11 a.m. on a Sunday! That's ridiculous, you say. But it's true. There were no carts full of comforter sets or press-board furniture, no excited eyes looking at the red-and-white mark-down signs. There was no joy in Target. Instead, there were women with gaunt faces and circles under their eyes circling the food aisles. There was a man arguing with the pharmacist about the price of his medication. I overheard a mother telling her daughter that she had to "choose only one pair of shoes this time."

My first thought was, ok, people are reprioritizing, thinking a little harder before buying another comforter set or a new set of towels that they don't really need. Reprioritizing is good for us, I know. But I can't help but feel sad about it. Forced re-prioritization is scary and horrible. Especially horrible at a time where AIG big wigs are paying themselves zillion-dollar bonuses with taxpayer money -- even though they effed up the works so badly that they nearly brought down the world economy!

But the most outrageous part of this AIG nonsense is the response from Edward Liddy, the government-appointed chairman, who stated that AIG executives need their bonuses to maintain their morale. What? Morale? Are. You. Joking? Take a walk through your local Target store sometime, Mr. Liddy, if you'd like to get a true idea of low morale. Take a stroll through any number of neighborhoods and count the for-sale signs in front of middle class homes, you arrogant sonofabitch. Talk to my mom-friend at the playground who started crying when she told me she had to pull her son out of preschool because she lost her job. How dare you take our money to boost your morale!

So yes, I'm all for the reprioritizing. But today I'm wondering, when do we stop being scared and sad, and when to we just get angry? We're all seething, I know, but when does the outward, acting-out, screaming-and-yelling rage begin? It might be time.

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