Does George Orwell Have a Savings Club Card?
Big Brother is watching... your receipts.
Recently, the media is making stories hand over fist concerning the recent developments that the cryptologic National Security Agency (or NSA) has been collecting information, tapping phones, and otherwise looking over the lives of everyday Americans. Fox News is pissing a lariat, MSNBC is confirming thwarted terrorist attacks from these actions, and the others just try to remind us that if we’ve not done anything wrong, we’ve nothing to fear. And the Obama Administration has, of course, taken a serious hit from this because... they exist while this has been going on, meaning the President is now (again) on the shitlist of middle Americans. I, personally, haven’t a clue as to why Americans are so upset about this; we’ve been under the watchful eye of big brother before Obama, before Bush, long before Clinton, and before the year 1984, the year prophesied by Orwell in his book... 1984. If you ask me (and no one has, so I’ll just say it) if the Government wants to examine me, all they have to do is look where I’ve shopped.
My keychain is a testament that I, myself, have looked big brother into his prying eyes and longingly declared my love to the system- whether I wanted to do it or not. One whole ring has been sectioned for capitalism, and all of them are connected to phone numbers that I either still have or were lost to the either while switching phone plans. After years of hanging from the metal, they’ve developed a cracked texture that starts with a single bend that gives way into more bends. Depending on how long I’ve had them the plastic will become flimsy and the hole the metal ring slides through gets larger and blacker. Together, they turn the ring-a-ding signal of my walking into a ring with a slight clap- like a noise maker you get at a new years eve party. Hell, why stop at just my keys? My wallet has an entire panel made into a shrine for different retail Gods and the temples devoted to worshipping them. Where does one begin?
My oldest one is my pass into the Temple of Auto Restoration, or rather, where I got my oil changed 2 years ago... twice. I now live way across the country from this place, but if I got two more punches on this card I get the next oil change for free. This was so not worth it; in fact, the two holes punched into it have turned into one- like they’ve decided to combine like two galaxies have combined. The tag is also for automotive purposes, as it is accepted at any local franchised Church of Auto Parts. Can’t say that I’ve felt the blessings of being a member to that club since I haven’t reached the enlightenment of spending $25 or more in 4 separate transactions, but the fiscal anointing of $20 off my next purchase still awaits. Two different drug store temples have also given me their tickets to financial peace of mind by promising points every time I swipe my card at the end of my purchase in the form of “savings points”; thanks... I guess, I’ll remember to thank the Gods for taking a dollar off that Nyquil I bought six months ago. Other tags include grocery stores I rarely shop at, and a haircutting place that butchered my mane, but insisted I show up again in three weeks.
If you’ve picked up any pretentious cynicism from that last paragraph: Good. Don’t get me wrong, these savings clubs have all served a purpose at one time or another, and my point is not, in any way, downgrade their services. My concern is what kind of informational Rube Goldberg-ianism goes on with that information once it’s “out there”. The underpaid cashier swipes the card, asks my name, confirms my phone number and I make my payment. Everything I’ve purchased, the UPC barcodes, the product name, my phone number, email address, and in some cases, my damned home address is invisibly transmitted to a store database. From that point on it goes to a corporate headquarters, after that an automated system notices that I use Valvoline High Mileage Engine Oil, so then this information puts me into a category of people that have older vehicles and might be considering a new one. In some cases I might buy myself haircare products that cater to people with thinning hair or dry scalp.
Well, isn’t that nice of you, corporate America. Thanks, but I really don’t want you to send me flyers from local car dealers to sell me another car that I’ll spend the next 4-5 years paying off, and the coupon that you printed me for an ethnic haircare product does do me any good... because I’m white. I know you want me to come back to this retail establishment, but not if you’re going to reward me for my purchase of Listerine with a coupon deal for Polident. I’m only thirty, screw you! What makes this all so “even more troubling” is that I not only did this to myself willingly, but also I gave them information that even I wouldn’t even give my members of my family.
What the fuck was I thinking?
Better still, what the fuck is America thinking? You’re concerned about Obama listening in on your stupid bullshit? The retailers of this great nation have better tabs on you than the CIA could ever have a wet dream about obtaining. Do I hate the fact that the government could be spying on my every move? Absolutely. Do they have anything juicy on me? Not likely. My informational footprint in this world will only show where I’ve shopped, the bbw porn I’ve looked at on the internet, the TV shows or movies I’ve “liked” on Facebook, and 2 blogs I’ve not written anything for in over 5 years.
And while you, the reader, double take on that “bbw porn” line in the last para’, just stop and wonder just a little the amount of freedom you’ve willingly given up just so that you can save 50% on your next purchase to a business you won’t go to until that offer is expired. Someone knows about it, an outsourced company in New Delhi has likely called you to confirm you shopped there, and a computer the likes of Hal 9000 will match you with like-minded deals to help you squeeze another 9 cents from your wallet. It’s more frightening to me that someone knows what crap I’ve bought; the CIA can kiss my ass, ‘cause those pig ain’t got nothin’ on me. Corporate America however, knows that I bought Depends Undergarments for my grandmother 6 years ago and that’s pretty fucking creepy.
So what am I doing about this? Lying my ass off, of course. In past year, if I can help it, whenever asked to fill out a form to enter for a savings club or store club card, they don’t get my name. Instead they get names like Louis CK, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lopez, or whoever famous person I am jealous of, admire, or can’t stand hearing about. That being said, if any celebrity rags wonder why Kim Kardashian has a record of buying Rogaine within the past year, don’t get excited because it might not be her. If they want an address they get 12345 Paying Customer Drive in the city of Piss Off Michigan. Honestly, I’d love for this trend to catch on. Obviously, this will only work for savings clubs, because doing this in terms of signing up for a loan or credit card will land you in jail, but corporate America deserves to be mocked this way. Maybe I’m not taking the NSA seriously enough, and I should be concerned about Obama watching my Facebook messages. Regardless, Big Brother can pry the information about my recent purchase from Walgreens from my cold dead hands.