We are having fun, aren't we?

3 Sep 2007

september 3.1

On Saturday morning I had to go shopping with Kate for some new knickers and new sports shoes. Saturday was the day before father's day which is not usually such a big deal or so I thought . I have read that after Christmas shopping the next biggest shopping period is just before Mother's day and I don't think father's day usually rates a mention in the shop owners almanac of crazy shopping periods.There has been a lot of advertising for Father's Day presents this year with lots of catalogues in the letterbox.


Town was so busy and many people had that Christmas rush glint in their eye. Now Launceston is not a big place in terms of city populations, about 90,000 people I think, and it is a long time since I have been shopping on a Saturday morning so the volume of shoppers may have been quite normal but I was astounded by the number of people who were obviously quite excited at the prospect of a day's shopping for treats.


I'm not going to harp on about the meaning of father's day and all that stuff. My main observation was how uncomfortable I felt, how different I felt. It was as if somewhere along the line aimless shopping has become the national sport and nobody told me about it. Of course some people were there with a mission just like me but it seemed from the majority of people I watched, I'm a great people watcher, that they were there to spend some of their hard earned cash as a reward for a week's work.


I'm making all sorts of assumptions here but people seemed so willing to hand over their money or card and take possession of their new treasures. The biggest eye opener for me was when we had lunch. We hadn't intended to have lunch in town but it was really cold and we were getting very hungry so we decided on a sausage roll and a pastie from one of the local bakeries.


Every food place we passed was busy and I had a long wait to be served in the bakery where we could get a seat. Almost everyone who was served ahead of me spent what I consider to be a lot of money on what was essentially a snack lunch. What surprised me most was that they seemed happy to pay. Handing over $50 for lunch in a pie shop and only getting about $20 change when they had only bought lunch for two or three people, something hot and a drink. You can see I don't get out much.


I tend to be more of a window shopper, I like to do some research before I spend. I do enjoy buying things but not if it's beyond my budget. I do get excited when I go to the op shop/thrift shop but that is with the idea that I will find a bargain and it will be something I actually need, mostly. The Saturday shopping splurge just looked a bit desperate to me, like an attempt to justify the hours worked. It was like "we are having fun now, right".


I feel as though there are many people who are spending much more than they need to because they think they are supposed to, that by spending they will find happiness, by having disposable income and disposing of it they are fulfilling their role. I suppose they are, it certainly keeps many on the treadmill, working towards buying a lifestyle, having the latest gizmo, trading up. It felt to me, the outsider, that it was a pretty hollow experience. A treat only means something if it happens occasionally rather than all the time, isn't that what we tell our children?

I leave you with Maggie looking inscrutable and wondering why humans are so mad. She is happy if she has enough food, warm,comfortable places to sleep, treated with kindness and has the occasional treat like a bowl of milk or a scratch behind the ears. Simple.

Maggie 1

8 Responses to “We are having fun, aren't we?”

  1. Oh, I agree, Jenny... I think people have just lost sight of what's really important these days... and I accuse myself of this as well. It's only taken me till just recently to know that money will NOT burn a hole in my pocket and that things will never give me happiness... however, a good family, relationships, and my friendship with God will...
    Thanks for the lovely piccies... and Maggie is inscrutable here!

  2. Jenny, this is one of the best posts I *ever* read on your blog (and I went through almost all of your archives! ;)). You are so right. Yes, it's so typical, it can be observed everywhere: people pressured into being over-busy, over-tired, overwhelmed, unable to get hold of real fulfillment and real happiness, so they go out and do what the modern overpacked but hollow lifestyle allows: buy, buy and BUY. Spend. Overspend.

    I have a friend who thinks I'm miserable because I'm so frugal :) But living more on less enables me to have a peaceful life and not be desperate for money. I eat at home. I shop thrift-stores and second-hand. I budget and always look for the best deals. I rarely go out; I prefer to entertain at home. I'm perfectly satisfied with entertainment in the form of friends, family, reading, writing crafts, lovely long walks and whatever countless simple pleasures life can offer. I wouldn't trade it for the latest goods or the fanciest lifestyle.

  3. I heard on the radio this morning that we're heading for another large recession. Commenters are worried because UK citizens have an unprecedented amount of personal debt and even a small rise in interest rates could ruin many people, financially. Recreational spending is harming many families, people being in a vicious circle of spending and working...I hope I'm not being hyperbolic by saying that our children are suffering becuase of this economic "miracle", as it's a "miracle" which is based upon two people in the family working, an economy based upon duel income families or high earning singles...as with many cultural and economic trends it's the smallest and weakest in our community who suffer.

  4. I'm with you Jenny, I always feel like I'm on the outside looking in when I visit a large shopping centre.

    It is horrifying to read that many young women class shopping as their favourite leasure activity and I've never understood this thing about "retail therapy".

  5. Oh this post resonates with me in so many ways, I'm in total agreement with you Jenny. I find this 'worshiping at the altar of consumerism' utterly nauseating. Have you ever listened to the lyrics of 'Kerching' by Shania Twain? She pretty much sums up all thats so bad about our consumer society in that song.

  6. I agree Jenny. I get no pleasure from shopping and only go when forced too. After a short time I feel quite stressed and totally alien and can't wait to get back home.

    cheers Lenny

  7. Apart from all the rampant consumerism etc, it's just plain exhausting traipsing from shop to shop. After a while it all looks the same. Well, that's what it was like after a day "shopping" in the city with my middle daughter. Her company was grand, however!

  8. I used to adore shopping for clothes in my teens and 20s, every Friday night and/or Saturday. Now I look back on all that time and think I could have been learning to sew my own clothes! Maybe it's not too late to learn at 40? In the meantime I get just as much of a buzz picking up op shop clothes for me and the kids. Most of my girlfriends are still in the spending cycle and think I'm weird.


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.