Inordinate Ordnance: The Season of the Gift

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Written by Chris Carr

Let me paint you a picture.

Imagine an antiseptic room, bathed in artificial light. From the walls, adorn between pictures of people you’ve never and will never meet, are artifacts, each waiting to grow old, obsolete, and turn to stone. All around, cabbage-headed mouth-breathers snatch and grab at these artifacts, slashing and pawing at their catch. They drone on about the artifacts too, trying to give meaning to this new thing, like a fake history, aimed at adding significance to the present. Once their fiction is concocted, they hand you pieces of paper that mean nothing, you punch digits into a machine that mean nothing, and they take their artifact home, to pine over its nothingness until they replace it for another, newer, meaningless thing.

Welcome to customer service.

As the holiday season grows nearer and the innocence of capitalism shrinks in the distance, many of us will be stuck in this hell of nothing-everlasting. Stone Road Mall is full of the working-students, each with their own set of useless trinkets to push. But they do it (and I am there with you, come visit me at the Apple store in the mall. I’ll sell you lots of nothing), because they have to do it. We need to buy presents for those buying presents for us, forever and ever perpetuating this hell, over and over, until we quit, get fired or the zombie apocalypse happens, amen.

Am I exaggerating? Maybe. But consider, objectively, the phenomenon of the customer/employee dichotomy. On one hand, we have the employee, paid to ease the customer into the warm waters of consumerism. On the other, we have the customer, like cattle, stampeding and suffering to buy things they don’t need in the first place.

“What do you mean you don’t have the new [insert mundane product here]? How will I ever get to own something I’d never actually need and will only upset me in six months when the new one comes out? What do you mean it doesn’t come in breast cancer pink? I need to feel better about my selfish and superfluous purchase!” The cattle say, with gapping maw of booster juice and ignorant self-indulgence, smacking and spitting.

The customer service industry hinges on shit-given and for the ones employed by it, shit-given is in low supply. I may not be talking for all of us—the mighty folders, wipers, ushers and indulgent caddies, the customer service workers—maybe they are new at their job and they “like talking to people”. Maybe there are a few good people in it to make some money and believe in the products they are selling. To those people, I say, you have my envy, I wish I had faith.

But for the rest of us, who understand the soul-sucking, hellish ideals of the customer service Reich, please, know you have brothers and sisters who are here for you, suffering like you. We need a brotherhood (sisters, you are with us here) of the burned and prodded customer service workers, sympathetic to the ills of the Christmas season worker. You can join too, temporary/seasonal help, but you’ll have to buy your own decoder rings.

Consider this a public service announcement for the we-who-are-the-consumer (as we all are). For anyone who has ever thought of a mall employee as a servant, or any lesser being, know this: you are the worst type of person there is, and you should feel deep shame. Where does this sadomasochistic relationship between master and slave (read: customer and employee) come from? Are we not people? If you prick us do we not bleed? We share the food court, can we not share a common decency toward one another?

In closing, with the Season of the Gift, soon upon us, consider the workers in your travels from happiness to possession. We give you the opportunity to fill your lives with things you don’t need and we can easily take it away. “Sorry, we’re out of stock, maybe next week.”

Be nice to the people who work at the mall this season. Or else there will be a revolution. But first, we’ll have to buy ski masks from the mall. Then, we’ll totally have a revolution. 


Chris Carr is Editor-in-Chief of The Cannon. Inordinate Ordnance publishes every Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.



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