March 31, 2009

not so simple

I've had a subscription to Real Simple magazine for over a year now, and I really like it. It's probably aimed at a demographic 10 years ahead of me, so a lot of the articles have to do with time management or children or quick family meals... but I like the look of the magazine, the creative uses for ordinary objects they come up with, and the creative pieces and essays that guest writers contribute.

Recently, though, the magazine didn't exactly live up to its title. This is the corner of the front cover:

....and, I expected something somewhat predictable: 2. plant a tree, 11. give someone a hug, 26. write a note to someone who wouldn't expect it, etc. etc. But here's an example:

It was a list of stuff you can purchase for under $20.

Cute, yes.

...but joyful? Are you serious? Crap to waste your money on that will yield maybe 10 minutes' worth of entertainment, and then what? How long is this brand of "joy" supposed to last?

It amazes me that, even in the midst of circumstances that SCREAM "money is not everything, money is transient, money does not make us whole", publications like this one still turn to it as a source of comfort and happiness, and recommend it to the rest of us. If you're down, spending UNDER $20 will pick you up! Simple as that! How did I miss it?!?!?!

Maybe if I had received this particular issue on a different day, it would have flipped by me unnoticed. But lately I've become acutely aware of just how much the world of retail is not for me. I could go as far as to say I'm morally against it, but that might be too strong. I just have so many misgivings in a typical day at work... the push to encourage people to sign up for credit cards (more debt is a super idea!); the push to get people to buy just $1.50 more ($1.50 worth of stuff you don't need!); the push to get people to spend money in general, in a time when most of us could use a reassessment of what we spend our money on.

Most days I don't think about it in such broad terms. Most days it's just a job. But every once in a while, when I read memos or emails or hear about sales updates, something inside me recoils. And I just know that very little of what I'm supposed to pursue reflects Jesus. We're supposed to be friendly and gracious with people, but only with ulterior motives. We're supposed to be helpful and patient, but only in the interest of milking every dollar we can in the moment. I'm growing more and more disillusioned even as I type the words.

But at least I have a job, right?


  1. I guess everyone's looking for a way to make a buck. DANG YOU REALSIMPLE!

  2. 1. i love the picture at the top of your blog. google reader hides these things.

    2. i totally agree. ever since it came out when we were in high school (yes, once or twice i would flip through a real simple..) i have thought how unsimple the magazine is. it looks clean and fresh, but is Chock full o' ads and, as usual, encourages consumerism.

    and yet we keep subscribing, because somehow we are calmed and mesmerized by all the things we wish we could do but don't have the money or time for... :)

    PS. the word your blog is forcing me to write for security purposes is "brapomo". I want that to be a real word: ala, That person over there has real brapomo. he knows what he wants and he does what needs to be done to get it.

  3. I feel your pain (haha) I worked at JC Pennys over the holidays and could barely bring myself to push Pennys cards on people. Sometimes I feel that after the 2 minute schpeal you have to give people at the register on "are you using your Pennys card? Did you hear about this offer? Buy three more socks and you save 20 cents..." it was so forced it was embarrassing that people would start to get pissed.

  4. akota73I have the same dilemma with that fact that I own a coffee shop. Though I need people to buy the $4 Latte so we can stay open and feed our family, I question why anyone would or should be buying said Latte in this economy.