Buy Nothing Week

Chaos in Print

I had another one of those incidents that makes me question my faith in technology. My ATM card had been acting up, so I went to the bank to order a new one. That went all fine and dandy, and they told me that my old one would be canceled when the new one arrived. OK. Well, Saturday came, and I was heading into Edmonton to do some shopping. I stopped at the bank to get some money. I stuck my card into the ATM, entered my PIN, said how much I’d like to withdraw, and then it began “processing.” But did it give me my money? No! It kept my card! Here I was, robbed of my ATM card! I turned to enter the bank and get my money the old fashioned way, but the door was locked. I then read the sign: “Due to the long weekend, the bank will be closed until Tuesday.” So, here I was, broke and card-less. Finally, out of desperation, I stuck my credit card into the ATM and took out the money as a cash advance. But I was given an inspiration.

One of the pet protests of former Dag editor Lucas Warren was “Buy Nothing Day,” in which you simply buy nothing for a day in order to protest our evil, consumer-driven ways. As Saturday drew to a close, I remembered ol’ Lucas and thought that I would take advantage of this situation to do “Buy Nothing Week.” With my new ATM card due on Friday, could I really last a week with no money? It was a challenge I was ready to accept! So, on my way home, I blew my final $20 on gas for my car. And now the challenge began: to go a week without buying anything. What gave me biggest concern was buying gas. It is a 40-km commute to work everyday, and 40-km home. What follows is my journal for that week:

Sunday – Slept in. Had to sprint off to work as soon as I woke up. I was working a long shift (7 hours) and contemplated buying something to eat during the shift. Decided not to, as I had worked longer shifts without food in the past. Still the holiday weekend, so frightfully dead in the store. Thought about getting a Slurpee for the drive home, but wasn’t that thirsty. Spent evening on couch watching TV. Uploaded new column, went to bed. Gas gauge says full tank.

Monday – Woke up on time, but Mom had already started the laundry. Couldn’t have a shower. Went off to work. Average length shift (5 hours) so food wasn’t really a concern. Wanted to get a pop from the pop machine to drink during the break, but settled for tap water. Oooo, someone left a doughnut lying around in the break room! Finders, keepers. Wow! Those Pokemon candies are only $1.49! I could buy one. But I don’t really need it. Still got those Super Soakers on sale for $18.88. The readers at the website said I should get one. No! Don’t need it. Wow. Those back-to-school notebooks are only $0.28. If I bought one, I could write the next column during my break. No! Save it until you get home. Set out for home. Accident on highway, I have to take long detour. Spent evening on couch watching TV. Mom uses car to do some running around in the evening. Gas gauge says 3/4 tank.

Tuesday – Day off from work. Ahh, a whole day relaxing at home, free of temptation. Do some online window shopping. Do some writing, but not as much as I’d like to because Dad assigns afternoon tasks and I get caught up watching reruns of the Batman and X-Men cartoons. D’oh! Eudora freezes just as I’m opening a new e-mail! I hate when that happens, as I always lose the message. I’m starting to hate technology again! Oh, well, ICQ flashed the e-mail address, it looked like it was just spam. Mom uses care to do a lot of running around. Gas gauge says ½ tank.

Wednesday – Another day at work. It’s hard to buy nothing when you work in a store. Make $2 in people saying “Take the cart back! Keep the loonie!” But did I go blow my tips on a celebratory Slurpee like I always do? Nope! Darn it, I’m saving my money! But, I am starting to feel naked without an ATM card. Make me a loincloth out of $5 bills. Anything! I feel so unsafe with no way to get any money. But look on the bright side. If I get mugged, I lose nothing. Gas gauge reads a shade under 1/2.

Thursday – Another day off. Must buy something. Anything. Oh, when will this torture end? It would be better if there was $10 left in my wallet, but no. I got nothing. No cash, no card, nothing. I’m stripped bare. I can’t stand it anymore! When will this nightmare end? I crawl the walls. I long to head on down to the store and get some Doritos and Dr. Pepper to ease the pain, but I can’t. I said I would buy nothing until the card came, and damn it, I will! Must…stay…strong…must…stay…strong. Argh! Anything! Just $5! I must buy something! It’s torture, is what it is. I’m making all this money, BUT I CAN’T SPEND IT!! LET THIS END!! LET THIS END!! OH, PLEASE LET THIS END!! Mom borrows the car and fills the tank. Gauge reads full.

Friday – The heavens part, and down comes a letter from my bank. I eagerly rip it open to find…my new card!! I’m whole again! It’s like a clean pair of underwear after being naked for so long! I go down to the ATM to test it out, and successfully withdraw $20. (Yes, I’ve got clean underwear, but better put some pants on, too.) I work the evening shift. Things go smoothly. Since I miss supper, I stop by McDonald’s on my way out to get a Big Xtra. Then, I swing by the video store to get some movies for the weekend. I am fully dressed, and ready to take on the world.

I learned something this week. I know why it’s only Buy Nothing Day. Any longer, and you start to go batty. Our consumeristic ways are an addiction. Sure, it’s easy to go a whole day without buying anything, but try a week. As it drags on, it’s like going through withdrawal. You walk through a store, and can’t help but think “Gee, I should buy that.” Consumerism is evil. No doubt about it. Buying stuff is like being on weed. And I warn all of you who are reading this! Just as a dealer is apt to cut you off, an ATM is just as apt to take your card from you. And then you will wander streets, looking for a quick hit. So take heed, young reader! Kick this nasty habit now, before you find yourself a hopeless addict, like myself.