No Online…Now What?

Has that which was once a luxury now become a necessity?

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It’s getting down to the wire now. The Christmas list is still long. Options are running out. Nerves on edge, tempers short, an aura of angst encircles the glowing tree lights while silent voices of “hurry, hurry” fill the empty spaces beneath the tree.

So, what’s new? It’s this way every year about this time.  The recurring question, “What to get who for Christmas?” No wonder it’s impossible to book a psychiatrist this time of year.  Their sofas are occupied.

No worry, you say. Everybody calm down, back off, take a breath. The stores brim with merchandise, just get online. The internet is the answer to all things now.  Even Santa is in retirement, refers all personal letters to the Amalgamated Mindless Mechanical Workers of America at Amazon.

Speaking of robots, did you hear? They’re unionized now. They have a Hoffa-type leader funded by Facebook and are planning mass demonstrations to protest the inequality of working conditions, workplace injustices and demanding entitlements and unemployment benefits.

Some have received the Sanders Scholarship to Yale for free college. They fill the parking lots of Amazon fulfillment centers. Mass hysteria is occurring in the nearby towns since the police have been defunded.

Robots unionized, you say? Absurd.  Wait, they’re protesting wages.  They’re too low, they’re demanding higher remuneration since they’re required to work 24/7 in these weeks. Prevailing $15 per hour is not enough. Stop Laughing. This is the future.

Congress is quietly drafting an omnibus taxing bill to coincide with the new minimum-wage movement to include robots. But wait…there’s a downside to this nonsense. They’re being categorized as employees, not contract laborers. FedEx drivers are up in arms, threatening to strike. Disaster is looming.

This madness like most other insanity began in California, the petri dish of incubations by incubus. It’s moving across America, driven by the mighty rushing wind of change. Robots are now issued Social Security cards and Employee Identification numbers so they can be taxed. The IRS is no respecter of Christmas.

But back to the dilemma at hand…Christmas gifts. Procrastination is the chief problem in these days and weeks. Especially with men. The terror of filling stockings and putting gaily wrapped packages under the tree is taking hold. They shudder recalling the Christmases past. Each year about Thanksgiving they swear on all things holy not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Empty vows.

They recall the frantic days of last-minute mall shopping, the panic that gripped them on Christmas Eve when most were having eggnog parties and laughing it up. But not them. They wandered the halls of malls, mindlessly looking in the windows of shops whose doors begin to close early. The odor of fear and failure stalked them.

They recall the last-minute waste of Friday’s paycheck, the vacuum cleaners, the kitchen utensils, the horrid pine-scented candles and the year’s supply of rank bathroom deodorizers (some memories live in infamy!) Not this year, there’s online shopping.

But wait. What’s this? News says deliveries are being delayed due to competition from Covid vaccines. Stratospheric surcharge add-ons, supply-chain breakdown, tracking numbers jumbled, no-exchange policies in place. Have we missed the cut?

Online is failing us, just when we need it most. Demand-supply equilibrium is out of sync, invalidating Adam Smith’s theory of the ‘Invisible Hand’ that balances all self-interest in a free market.

Now what? We’re down to the short hairs of shopping, grasping for straws in a Covid-quarantined wilderness of local shops where picked-over remnants remain the only choices.

Forget prayer.  Too late for that. Misery and insane laughter are our companions now. Old memories of this situation come to mind. The scene of two men swapping meaningful words and grappling over the last Gucci handbag at Neiman’s. It falls to the floor; another man grabs it.

Then there was the mob of old men fixated on the window of Victoria’s Secret, aroused by the changeout of seductive mannequins. Not hard to know what their letter to Santa said. They will all be disappointed on Christmas morning.

But that was then, this is now. What to do? Get creative.  Grab a Starbucks latte, sit and think. Ideas come. We survived with Sears mail order and layaway before online shopping. Jewelry, clothes, fine art, wine, gift cards, books, massages, new cars. Still time. Support the locals.


American consumerism and Christmas are inseparable. They will survive at all costs. On credit, of course.  Fortunately, our poinsettias have arrived on time. Good luck out there.


Bud Hearn

December 14, 2020