Things Not To Buy For Christmas


Hi all, Steve here again, after a short absence. I’ve been busy selling Christmas retail you see and Christmas retail has the affect of destroying your brain. I tried to write a column last week, but all I managed to do was drool on the keyboard, which seemed unsatisfactory subject matter to base a column on. But now I’m done with retail for the time being and I’m back to write a column: About retail!

Bet you didn’t see that coming. Or maybe you did. But still, it’s a subject worth talking about. Many people are busy these days, running around doing last minute Christmas shopping…but I discovered something during my time in retail: Most of what they sell is garbage. And I’m here to tell you what not to buy for Christmas with: Steve’s List Of What Not To Buy For Christmas!

O.k., if you didn’t see that one coming, I give up on the lot of you, I swear. These days corporations are turning out enormous numbers of useless products, as well as products that would be useful, except that they don’t work, and products that serve no conceivable purpose whatsoever, either actual or potential, real or imagined…except that they are cheap. This is true; I’ve seen it in action. People will buy almost anything, as long as they can justify the purchase to themselves as a bargain. It’s a bargain on something that doesn’t work and would be stupid even if it did and most sensible people wouldn’t plunk down hard-earned currency on the table for something like that…until you tell them that they can get an extended warranty for a very reasonable price. For something they don’t want. And that doesn’t work. And is stupid. This really actually happens, all the time. When the item in question either breaks or refuses to function at all, people will march in, criticize the product, it’s designers, the store that sold it to them and your personal genetic heritage. And then demand another one. If you can’t deny that you spent hard-earned dollars on something stupid and useless, at least you can console yourself by taking advantage of the reasonably priced extended 3-year warranty plan.

I would like to announce, just by the way, that after working yet another year of Christmas retail, I now no longer feel that the human race has any redeeming qualities at all. Thank you.

Some products start off as useful items, but over time become so ridiculously overbuilt that they become essentially useless. A good example is cell phones. In the beginning, people talked to each other, mostly about nothing. Then came pagers, which let you know that someone wanted to talk to you, mostly about nothing. Then came call phones, which allowed people to talk about nothing anywhere. That’s about all the nothing anybody needs. With cell phones, we’ve really reached the Beam Me Up Scotty stage and we don’t need anything else. And the companies know that, so they’ve started tacking on more stuff, stuff most people don’t want and won’t use, but all for a very reasonable price. The newest generation of cell phones lets you take pictures, have a video conversation, play MP3s, listen to satellite radio, surf the web, watch Youtube, use instant messengers, check your email and, with an optional telegraph attachment, send Morse code. If you still have any time left, you can talk to people, though anybody who’s busy uploading pictures of their friends throwing up in them in a bar to Facebook probably doesn’t have time to talk to anybody. What an age we live in.

Still, cell phones can be useful. Some products are just completely hopeless and should be avoided at all costs. So, as a public service, I have compiled a list of products that you should avoid. Some of the following items are real and I compiled them simply by walking around the electronics store where I worked and some are made up: Try to guess which ones are real; I think you’ll be pleasantly horrified:

  • Combination nose hair trimmer and MP3 player
  • Vacation property accessible only by attack helicopter
  • Rubik’s cube
  • T.V. remote control with optional car charger
  • A DVD series, Bagels Of The World: A Tasty Travel Documentary
  • A light for the brim of your hat
  • Combination pencil sharpener and heart rate monitor
  • A fiber-optic blinking Christmas tree that plugs into your USB port
  • Combination acoustic guitar and GPS
  • A clock that projects the time in a fuzzy blur onto the ceiling

I’ll give you a hint: The projection clock is a real item. Now, I’m not saying it’s totally worthless, but if I had a choice between the projection clock and a slice of pizza and a kick in the head, well, it’s hard to go wrong with pizza.

So I hope that helps with your last-minute Christmas shopping. If, on the off chance you’re wondering what any of this has to do with productivity and why I wrote a post about it for this website, let me assure you that this website post comes with a very reasonably priced extended warranty plan.

Until next time, keep your pen on the page and nose hair trimmed.

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