Thursday, December 3
Every day people come in to my place of business and tell me how happy and relieved they are that my place of business offers a layaway program. And being the sort of person who wouldn't put my name on a credit card for any reason what so ever, (especially after reading about this nonsense) I kind of am, too. Layaway can be a life saver in certain situations and the idea behind the whole institution is supposed to encourage consumers to make prudent and wise shopping choices, so it's a bummer to see so many dozens of people come in to my store every single day using the lay away system, The Unsexiest Thing In The World, in a way that is most definitely unwise.
Layaway is about delayed pleasure. For a $5 fee and a 10% down payment you can place any number of items into a box and have them stored away and saved for you while you make biweekly payments of 25% of the remaining total bill. The whole process can take up to 8 weeks, 10 if you stretch it and keep in touch with your layaway representative. It's not fun, it's not easy and it takes a lot more time, effort and money than simply purchasing an item when you have the money or putting it on a credit card. So why do it at all?
One reason is that often times a shopper will find singular items or items that are marked down for a very limited amount of time and want to take advantage of that but can't afford it right in that moment. Layaway allows you to purchase the items at the sale price without having to pay for them all at once. Or in the case of finding the last one, a popular game or toy or the last jacket in your size, you don't have to buy the item outright but can still have it. Eventually.
Why not put it on a credit card? A lot of people simply don't have them, for a number of reasons. Personally, I think credit is bullshit and I wouldn't touch that shit for anything. Yes, having one could make a huge difference in an emergency situation, but I know myself well enough to realize that after a certain amount of time responsibly using my credit card I would suddenly, miraculously, as if in a dream, find myself in heaps and heaps of Carrie Bradshaw shoe debt. How did this happen? And where did all these shoes come from? I'm not going there. I know way too many 20-somethings who are thousands of dollars in the hole with nothing to show for it. I'll take my student loan debt, put away a couple hundred dollars into savings for emergencies and be boring. Sorry. And, my opinions aside, I think a lot more people are a lot less trusting of banks these days and are trying to get away from the invisible money trade.
So where's the bummer? 95% of my customers are throwing around their money like babies, and it's sickening and sad to hear them complain about the economy yet still find the time and money to buy useless shit AND EVEN pay a layaway fee. Not only that, but every week at least a dozen people find it necessary to cancel their layaways entirely because they need the extra cash. That in itself costs another $10. Layaway was designed for that boy who just moved out on his own and finally decided that the dust bunnies needed to die, so he did some budgeting and decided how much money a month he could allot for his purchase, he waited for a decent vacuum to go on sale and then went down to Sears and put it on layaway. Layaway is for grannies who need a new tea pot and a holiday sweater and really like the tea pot with the cow spots and the sweater with the pearl buttons but simply can't afford it all at once but are so in love with said items that they can't bare losing them. Layaway is for single moms and dads who can't afford a lump sum twice a year for new clothes for their kids so they spread it out a little over a couple of months to make the blow less deadening. Layaway is not for pregnant military suburb moms who complain about how spoiled their kids are but continue to rack up an $800 layaway bill for the rotten bastards anyway. And it's all junk! It's all horrible war video games and Nerf guns and shit that teaches your kids how to read (THAT'S YOUR JOB, YOU FUCKING PARENT) and Dora the Explorer merch that doesn't even speak Spanish. Fuck, doesn't anybody buy their kids books or crayons anymore? Maybe if you weren't such a God awful parent your Christmas bill would be a little smaller.
It's like layaway gives people a false sense of comfort. They feel like in making these small payments they're not really spending as much money, but the truth is that they're spending more, and not just that $5 but because you only have to pay so much every so often you feel like you can purchase more. And that's what we all want, more shit to bring home.
What really kills me, though, really really gets up under my skin are all the assholes who come in every day, they pay for their layaways with their credit cards and then they say, "I don't even know what I bought!" Then clearly you don't fucking need it.
You want to beat the recession? You want to make it in this tough economy? Pull your fucking head out of your ass and for once in your pointless consumer lifetime make an intelligent decision about the things that you're buying. Do you love the item? Are you going to love it for a long time? Are you kids going to love it? Are they going to play with it for more than a week? Then by all means, put it on layaway. Otherwise, put that shit back.
And because working in layaway is sort of like working for Santa, here is what you're getting for Christmas, decided by blatant racial profiling. This is so weird but there is a definite racial trend in present-giving. Not a lot of Asian/Islander types use layaway, though. I wish there were stats on this, as I find it to be very interesting.
If your mom/grandma is African American you got mostly clothes and shoes and a couple of expensive toys. This seems kind of lame, but you didn't get any socks or underwear, and your mom/grandma has good taste so it's all cute.
If you're Latino, your mom/grandma got you a lot of socks and graphic tees that she assumed were hip. You also got cologne.
If you're Caucasian, you got pajamas and a bunch of shitty toys you will only like for a day. Your mom/grandma also got you clothes but they're not that cute. Two of you got carpeting. I am totally serious.
If you're a baby of any race but only human, you got a ton of shit that you're never going to remember, why do people buy presents for babies?
Every day someone asks me about these fucking things.
That credit card shit is true. Get out while you can.