Back-To-School Specials Spark Rant

I’ll admit it. I never saw a flow chart I didn’t like. I love counting backwards, figuring when I have to leave to get there by then. Planning, planning, planning.

So why – already in August – am I railing about back-to-school sales?

“It’s ridiculous!” I tell the bewildered checkout clerk. “We just put the flag up for Memorial Day.”

She flashes her best customer-is-always-right smile.

“School starts next week,” she whispers.

She has a point. But in my heart I know what’s next. Pumpkins and Superhero costumes. Turkey basters and Christmas music. You can’t trust these retailers for a minute.

Sure enough, I head to the hardware store for seeds.

“I need to replenish my nasturtiums,” I tell them. It’s true. I’m down to the last two orange blossoms. Those edible leaves that were supposed to be such a tasty garnish? They’ve browned from the heat.

“Sorry, ma’am,” says the clerk, who is busy arranging leaf blowers. “No more seeds.” I take consolation in the fact that the place smells real, like sweaty sawdust, and the guy is wearing a summer T. At least they haven’t turned the thermostat down to 68 and made him wear flannel.

I shrug and go to a general store with a nursery. Seeds? Yes! But only pumpkin. I try to imagine a pumpkin dangling from the little 8-inch pot with macramé hanger where the nasturtiums are dying. I persist.

Finally, at a full-fledged garden center that is heavily pushing barely budded mums in 90-degree heat, I score a packet of “Alaska” nasturtium seeds. I squint at the fine print and start counting. Between the promised germination in 7 to 10 days and survival in “cool temperatures,” we are in sync.

As soon as those last two flowers are spent, I’ll yank out the shriveled vines, soak the soil, push each seed exactly down one-half inch, and wait for a miracle. By the first frost, I’ll be garnishing everything in sight.

That’s the way a retail world in tune with the seasons should work, I say. Otherwise, it’s simply co-conspiring with my bent toward spending the current moment looking toward a future moment when I will be looking toward still another future moment when I will still be looking….

Maybe it’s not even my fault that I can never stay in the moment. Merchandising has pre-programmed my brain.

How can I fully inhale summer’s 203 versions of mango products at my local grocery when I know that Pumpkin Madness is lurking around the corner? Sadly, by the time the pumpkins are in, I’ll have no time to carve them because I’ve just been reminded there are only 89 shopping days till Christmas.

Of course, Christmas shopping doesn’t have to interfere with Halloween because virtually everything – automobiles, jewelry, golf clubs – are on sale right now as a back-to-school special. One retailer, accurately describing the opportunities as “back to school and beyond,” was offering bargain prices on tents. Who needs a dorm room?

Even the more traditional offerings bode well for Christmas. With a $5 minimum purchase at the office supply, I can get amazing stocking stuffers like pink rubber erasers and bottles of glue for pennies apiece. With the buy more/save more option, I can fill an entire mantel of stockings

And with that happy news, I should probably call a halt to my rant. Of course it’s time for back-to-school sales. They should probably have started in June.


2016 Copyright Pat Snyder




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