I wrote a little while ago about how Morocco is a good example of how society is able to operate with less. If you have less, you make-do and work out systems in order to function. The reverse of that, obviously, is if you have more you do more. And that is not as productive a statement as it should be. The more you have, the more your focus diverts from what is important. As we sit on the precipice of a colossal collapse of the western world this is becoming sort of important. We need to look at our core values with laser focus if we are going to survive. But alas…..Donald Trump. Guns. Rich getting richer. Middle class disappearing. Media destroying the world…..blah blah blah.
I have been noodling a bit about Westerners who go to Morocco and react to the way local people behave. They call it “aggressive” or “annoying”. I often hear comments about the “less than charming” way in which someone kindly offers you help, and then they stick their hand out looking for compensation. For their time. For the time they have given to you to help you. Granted, that help may have been unsolicited, but if it was accepted and you benefited from it, is it going to kill you to give some .50 cents for their time? No. It’s not.
So I have been moving through this western world the last few weeks, I am seeing the same old things in a new context. And I set some of these new experiences against the backdrop of Morocco. My beautiful adopted home. It is easy to feel nickeled and dimed there. I have had days when I just want to stay inside. You park your car and some guy shows up with his hand out looking for his “fee”. Cause it’s his street. You get lost and someone will come along and lead you to “the big square” or “his uncles’ shop” and then will ask for a fee. Everyone has an angle and it seems like its all “money, money, money.”
So I was sitting at Milestones’ the other night with a friend. The server took his credit card and Scene card (loyalty card to gain points towards free movies and snacks at Cineplex). She came back and said “I’m sorry Sir, but your Scene card was declined.” Possibly the most ridiculous statement ever uttered. But I do appreciate that there are people in this world who would arrive back to this same restaurant in 4 days demanding to know why their account was not credited with the OWED 25 points, had she not said anything. but come on ….t i m e w a s t e d.
As I was relaying this whole story to another friend, she commented on a few other ways in our society that we are asked for money. On a daily basis. To the point of being ridiculous. And almost criminal. Because when you go to Morocco and someone asks for you some money for helping you out, and you give them 10 dh, that money will buy their family three pieces of bread for dinner that night. Where does THIS money go?
- “Would you like to use your Indigo Plum card?”
- Why? You have distributed a card to everyone who will have it so that you can track shopping habits and collect emails to send out advertising to people who will hopefully then come and buy more, and there is an entire department dedicated to this activity to ensure that because you are so invested in the loyalty program you won’t buy your books somewhere else (but it’s Canada so there IS nowhere else aside from Amazon). All this when you could just look up from your cash register and have a personal conversation. Offer better service. Make it a pleasure to shop there and you wouldn’t need the stupid card I have to carry around that in reality offers NO VALUE to improve my life. (and no I’m not picking on Indigo. Insert Starbucks, Sobeys, Airmiles etc etc etc)
- “Would you like to add a dollar to…….?”
- To what? To help you show how much your corporation raises for charity? Why don’t you take a dollar away from YOUR profits for every purchase I make and do something good with it. Why do I have to give a dollar at every freaking cash register I pull up to for some charity. WHY? Do I want to spend a dollar to put a sticker on the window with my name on it? For what? Now you are forcing me to say “No” under my breath lest the person behind think I’m a bad person because I don’t want to give a single loonie to help a child learn to love reading. Do I have to be asked at every single transaction for my points card and a dollar? No. You know what? I want to take all those dollars, go back to Morocco and give them to someone who works really freaking hard with no days off and no luxuries and I want THEM to buy one book.
- “How many bags would you like?”
- FIRST OF ALL – can you work out your freaking system so that you can just charge me at the end for the number of bags I use? Why do I need to be a bagging expert in order to suit your need to charge me the .5 cents in advance. Secondly, what the hell? Are we banning plastic bags or monetizing them? Because I still use as many plastic bags as I did before but now you are making .5 cents every time I fill one. Bullshit. That’s ridiculous. You are making TENS of cents on those plastic bags. What if you just stopped offering them. If they weren’t there people would adjust pretty damn fast. Ban them or don’t. But don’t make yourselves look like a good corporate citizen saving the world one bag at a time. Because you are not.
- “Would like to buy an apple/button/chocolate covered almonds?”
- No. No I don’t want any of those things. I was just in the grocery store where I could have bought them if I wanted them but I didn’t, so how is my contribution now, less the cost of the product, going to benefit YOU person standing here?How?
Am I right? Jesus. It’s relentless. And then there is the Canadian penny. The one that disappeared. February 4, 2013. That’s when they stopped making pennies. It is mid 2016. The entire WORLD remediated Y2K in 16 months but Canada can’t find a cash register that will round up or down. No one with a pocket protector can write a freaking exception? An IFTTT rule? If the total is 24.23 than the price will read 24.25? No? No one can do that?
WE JUST PUT A SPACECRAFT INTO JUPITERS ORBIT PEOPLE. We can’t get a freaking cash register to eradicate the penny? Is there a chance we might bring it back?
And as a final point in my rant on nickel and cents-ing, let’s discuss those plexi-boxes for spare change at every check out counter ever. Tim Horton’s “send a kid to camp”, “save the whales”, “help the boys and girls club”. Tin cans, plexi boxes, cups. Containers of every kind placed right at the check out. Since the 1960’s. The only time you ever hear about them is when someone runs in and grabs one and its a crime heinous enough to garner a spot on the news and the general outrage of good people. WHERE DOES THAT MONEY GO? Have you EVER known a child who benefited from that? Did anyone you knew in public school ever come in one day, all dressed up in a fancy dress, saying “mama’s taking me to the Dollar Store today to collect my can of change! I’m going to camp this year.”
No. Because that’s never happened.
And please people, please be sure your SCENE card is up to date. Avoid the embarrassment.