Ah, the olden days: when you went shopping (with your mother or your girlfriends) a few time a year. The rich girls went at the beginning of the season. Most of us went at or near the end, so we could get things on sale. For blackbelt shoppers like my parents, there were also perhaps two trips a year to Orchard Street in New York City, noted for its discounts. The tiny shops had mean owners, who would badmouth the customers in Yiddish (my mother--a German speaker in childhood--could translate the insults.) We were once kicked out of a shop for not buying anything quickly enough! The abuse was part of the experience. And, of course, we would get a sandwich after the ordeal at the famous Katz's deli. which had--and still has as it happens--salamis hanging from the ceiling emblazoned with streamers:"Send a salami to your boy in the army."
In the old days, shopping was contained! Then came catalogs, some of which presented pastoral worlds where everything matched or everything was eccentric. At least you could throw them out after mooning through them.
But now! I hardly need to tell you that in internet has broken all boundaries. So even if you never set foot in a physical store, you can shop all the time. And--if you ever recklessly sign up for email so you can get free shipping or a discount--well, your inbox will be full of offers.
I recently realized that I seldom set foot in a store these days, with the exception of thrift shops. But I--perhaps from those Orchard Street days--am hardwired to check out the bargains. So I have removed myself from almost all email lists: good-bye J Jill, Gumps, Banana Republic, Pier 1, and the rest.
The only ones that remain are LL Bean and Garnet Hill. I shop at those stores now and then because of their unconditional guarantee.
This boundary-violating is a real problem. I find myself answering desperate emails from students on weekends. This weekend, for instance, one student asked me when the paper was due. UHHHH, look at the syllabus, which is on-line. I don't mind responding to student requests on weekends (although I often refer them to the syllabus!), because then I don't face a crew of students on Monday having major meltdowns.
But honestly, I already have too much stuff. And, as we learned in the olden days on Orchard Street, even if you miss a bargain--or even if you get kicked out of the store--there's always one next time!
Have you decluttered your inbox? What's left?