We were sitting around yesterday, ranting and raving, as usual, about how much we hate Black Friday and how bizarre the whole scenario is. I keep imagining scholars of the future trying to make sense of it:
“Every year they had a special day of quiet contemplation during which they ate turkey, even though it seems that none of them actually liked turkey that much, and gave thanks for the things in their life they were grateful for. This day was also meant to symbolically commemorate a day of peace and togetherness that was supposed to have occurred several hundred years earlier, between their ancestors and the native people those ancestors would go on to commit intentional genocide against. So they ate turkey, complained about it, and went around the table saying what they were grateful for in their lives. Then at midnight they went and stood in great huge lines, shivering in the cold, outside of what were called ‘big box stores,’ in order to be first inside upon the store’s opening in the morning.* On the day after this day of gratitude and quiet contemplation, these stores traditionally offered luxury goods at much lower prices than those goods were usually considered to be worth. Many people were trampled to death in attempting to attain these luxury goods.”
*Stores were buildings in which money** was traded for goods. This was perhaps the most foundational transaction of the late capitalist period
**Money was, most literally, pieces of paper (or, later, numbers recorded digitally in secure computers) that symbolized specific amounts of accrued personal wealth. See Marx, Karl
So anyway, we were sitting around complaining about Black Friday. Then I went to put something in the tupperware full of vegetable odds n’ ends that I turn periodically into veggie stock, and which we keep in the freezer. Imagine my horror! The freezer was completely warm, and, from the looks of it, had been warm for hours and hours, as everything in it was totally thawed out. The refrigerator too was warm. “DISASTER!” I cried.
When we moved into this house we knew the appliances were on their last legs. The fridge and stove have got to be 30 years old. Both are caked in the grime of ages, the kind of grime no amount of elbow grease could ever remove. The stove lights don’t really work. The fridge keeps cool only intermittently and the motor runs constantly. It probably is horrifyingly inefficient in terms of energy use. Also, all the shelves in the door are broken off, so you can’t put anything in the door, which makes for crowded circumstances in terms of vegenaise and ketchup and all the different fancy mustards I invest in. We discovered that replacement shelves for the door are $100 each, for some reason.
Anyway, we’ve just been waiting for the inevitable moment when we will have to buy a new refrigerator. I just surely did not think it would happen exactly on Black Friday, my most hated day of the year!
So what did we do? We immediately drove to fucking Lowe’s. Like, with no discussion. That was how quickly all our tough talk about Black Friday went out the window. It is so shameful yet instructive. There is a locally-owned business called, like, “Manny’s Dented Appliances” that apparently sells fucked-up floor models that people at Sears won’t buy, but other than that we have not been able to find a locally-owned appliance store. What do you do if you need a refrigerator? I don’t know what a more politically-serious person would do, maybe make one out of wood, but we went to Lowe’s. We complained the entire way there, about how slammed it was going to be, how disgusting this was, how much we hated it. We complained about how all the refrigerators were probably sold already, and we’d have to wait 7 weeks for one to get delivered.
Upon pulling into the parking lot, we saw that for starters, it was not slammed at all. Inside, all was cool and calm. Hardly anyone was in there. We went back to appliances and immediately found our friend Gary, who is amazing and who had previously helped us with another sudden appliance emergency (washing machine) that turned into an even bigger emergency when we realized there was only one model currently for sale that would actually fit through our basement door. Gary could not have been more knowledgable or helpful and so when he popped up we were literally like “GARY!!!!!! THANK GOD.”
Gary is one of those people who you can tell just takes pride in doing a good job, whatever bullshit job he’s stuck in (e.g. selling appliances at Lowe’s, a corporate entity I imagine mistreats and underpays him, although I suppose I could be wrong). You know when you have a waiter or barista or dude at the hardware store who just clearly operates under the “anything worth doing is worth doing right” standard, and it’s always such a goddamn delight to have any kind of transaction with them? That’s what Gary is like. Gary has so much expertise and knowledge and is also so honest and kind. He remembered us from months ago when we bought the washing machine (“you guys have that weird tiny basement door!”). We said “we need a fridge but it has to be no bigger than 65 by 28” and literally without even thinking about it he goes “Okay we have three models that size.” He showed them to us then said the GE one has better stats in terms of not breaking down within the first year, even though it’s cheaper than the other one. We were like “great, we’ll take it.” He goes “what color do you want?” We said “we don’t know.” He said “let me put it a different way–if there’s just one color that we actually have on hand, and can deliver quicker, do you want that color?” we said “Yes.” He went to check and came back and said “we’ve got a black one.” we said “great.” We bought the fridge. He said the next available delivery date was next week but then he put in a manager override and got us free next-day delivery. We said thank you. He said no problem, call him if we need anything else. We went out into the parking lot. “I guess living in America just IS easy and great,” my husband said bitterly and with great scorn and self-hatred.
then we went out and got drunk and played backgammon and chagrined one another about how easy, pleasant, affordable, and fast our Black Friday appliance-shopping experience had been. Upon arriving home we measured our fridge and realized that the one we’d bought actually was too big and we needed the much shittier one Gary had initially shown us. I called Lowe’s. It was 8 at night. Gary literally answered the phone. “Lowe’s, this is Gary.” “Oh GARY,” I cried, “you’re who I was calling to talk to! We bought a fridge from you several hours ago? We’re the ones with the weird tiny basement door? It turns out we need the smaller one and I’m hoping you remember which one that was.” “I do,” Gary said, “hang on.” He was gone for 5 minutes. When he came back he said “Okay I’ve switched your order and refunded your card and made the new purchase.” “Oh my god,” I said. “No problem,” Gary said.
Lord have mercy
People find ways to be beautiful and touch one another even in our horrible alienating times.
Also it’s instructive to remember how easy political stances are to uphold when you don’t actually have to suffer any inconvenience for them.
Stoked for that new fridge
It’s got door shelves