Last night Charlene and I went to Sam's to do some grocery shopping and take a look-see at their flat panel televisions. I never feel more firmly plugged into American culture as when I'm in any kind of grocery store. All the packaging looks like an explosion happened at a cartoon factory or a quilt made out of an old Superman uniform. Everything you could imagine, you can buy, from soups to nuts, from tires to contact lenses, and from frozen jalapeno poppers to porch swings. Most everything is new and improved and you can bet that most everything groceries offer have been researched to death for marketability, product placement, and packaging appeal. I have an out of body experience, feeling that I'm looking down at myself as a rat going through a maze for some marketing study. Is that video camera in the ceiling corner for theft control or recording what makes the shoppers stop in their rat tracks to look at something? I saw a sports drink called "G2" which is made by Gatorade and is marketed as "off the field hydration". It's low calorie, of course. I was looking for a sports drink called E=mc squared™ to help with my tennis game but couldn't find any. If you could play tennis at the speed of light, would you be able to find anybody to play with?
A long time ago I participated in a marketing study for cigarettes. Once a week about twenty five of us smokers would be put in our individual booths to smoke cigarettes, one at a time, and fill out a questionaire after each cigarette. I gave up a small part of my pulmonary health for cigarette marketing but, as I recall, the money they paid us was a good amount.
Charlene and I came away with a jumbo bag of "Mystic Chips", a carton of thirty two diet cokes, and various other sundry items totaling almost 100 dollars. At home we finally made the decision (two months in the making) to buy a flat panel TV for our basement. We logged on to Dell.com and chose our fifty-two inch LCD honker, complete with 120 megahertz refresh rate, 1080p resolution, BRAVIA Engine Full Digital Video Processor, S-Force™ Front Surround function, Motionflow Technology, Advanced Contrast Enhancer (ACE), and Enhanced (XMB™) user interface with rich 3D graphics. We clicked on "add to cart" and the next screen pops up, WAIT! do you want a HDMI cable? Do you want a mounting bracket? Do you want an extended warranty? and so on and so forth.
Charlene and I went to bed tired but satisfied that we did our small part to stimulate the economy. God bless George Bush, God bless America, and God bless our new flat panel TV. I hope it gets here soon.