All We Are is Dollars in a Wallet

The husband and I run an online dice store, Game Master Dice. I’ll write about the whole, sordid history of acquisition and the daily running of it one day; for now, I wish to discuss a phenomenon one experiences in sales:

Everyone is a walking wallet.

My husband told me that awhile ago, when I complained about how pressured I feel at stores. These days, I feel it everywhere. Websites, billboards, friends, store aisles -they are all trying to get a bit of my money. No –all of my money. It’s just a matter of who can grab it first with the brightest ad and the most compelling sales pitch.

Most of us learn to resist, mostly. Otherwise we’d not be living with a roof and walls whilst wearing clothes.

But the onslaught is relentless! I know that advertising has been around since before Pompeii. I know that companies have always sought the best way to purchase ad space in our brains. I also know that ads were less insidious, even when the mental takeover involved a catchy jingle.

If businesses could, they would literally brainwash us to buy. I incorporated that idea in my serial science fiction story.

I’ve thought about all these sales tactics lately because we’re trying to ramp up sales in the dice store. We are therefore pulling out the tricks I use(d) when doing paid content writing: keywords, tags, linking, Instagram and Pinterest and Facebook…

We want to make a living, but sales and marketing have always made me uncomfortable.

My consolation is that we’re marketing to people who want to purchase what we sell. They’re going online to find a dice set or a Reaper miniature or a dice cup, and we’re trying to point them down our little aisle of the internet. It’s not like we’ve popped up during their drive with a BUY OUR DICE NOW!!

Right?

I remember a job interview waaaaay back when, during which they asked me if I’d be comfortable selling their product to customers who called in. I had nailed the interview up to that point; I knew it. My answer to that question, I also knew, shot me right in the foot.

So how comfortable do you feel advertising? Do you tell friends and neighbors about a great deal without any qualms at all? Would you rather stay out of the Rat Race entirely and go live on Walden Pond?

If you get 10 of your friends to read and comment …yeah, nevermind.

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If you read what I wrote this week, I guarantee you won’t be pressured to purchase anything:
Wednesday, July 24: “Summer Days Ain’t Lazy at All.” I complained about pregnancy.

Thursday, July 25: “The Top Ten Reasons I Can’t Write Romance.” Also complaining, but in a humorous way.

Friday, July 26: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Rasmus K. Robot and Charles!

Saturday, July 27: Announced the 36th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is your ‘favorite’ relative (who’s really not). PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, July 28: “One More Day,” in response to Carrot Ranch’s prompt. Someone else was complaining.

Monday, July 29: An inspirational quote by Joseph B. Wirthlin. He says to stop complaining.

Tuesday, July 30: “Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Eight.”

Wednesday, July 31: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Manic Kids? Try Snacks!,” “Why the Heck Would Anyone Get Pregnant?,” and “Pregnancy Limerick.”

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Two

“Here,” breathed Wil, “must I tread again.” She surveyed the fluorescent land; her land. Little had changed during her absence. Commoners scurried around her, too awed by her presence to engage her attentions. There, rested the wheeled carriages. There, the rows of labeled shelving.

Without map or list to guide her, Wil frowned. ‘Twas a regal frown, naturally. One mustn’t sacrifice one’s face to strain, after all, no matter how confused one felt.

“Ah!” she exclaimed, remembering. A harried woman jumped in passing. The action passed beneath her ruler’s esteemed notice. Wil strode forward, accompanied by the soft squeak-thump of boot and flup-flop of coat and scarf. Employing a carriage, she pointed it and her in the direction of a ceiling-hung label: Soups/Instant Rice/Box Meals/Cake Mixes.

What an odd assortment to collect within a single location, she mused. She drew closer to the mirror-floored aisle in question. Odd or no, she felt certain this was the first she must visit. She began sounding out the names of the items before her.

“Rice-a-Ro-Ney?” “Hamburg’s Helper?” “Raw-men?”

A youth in red half-uniform paused mid-stack to stare. Wil blushed, knowing he ought not to forget his manners yet simultaneously practicing her own in not reprimanding the impudent boy. Instead, she lifted her chin and continued her perusal within her private thoughts.

Insta-Taters? Scallop-ed Noodles? Aha! Tu-na Helper! Wil snatched the box in haste, incurring another surprised reaction from her lone teenager audience. Turning her back upon the knave, she secured a second box in similar fashion. There! Now all she required was the necessary protein complement: tuna.

“But where am I to find a fishmonger within this enclosed market?” she mused.

“Did you say fish?” The half-redded worker spoke. Wil deigned to turn since his voice sounded near. It was; he was. Her slight movement brought her eye level with an unshaven chin and she jumped and dropped the boxes in her hands. Embarrassed, she scrambled to retrieve her lost treasures.

Once within her grasp, she deposited them safely in the wheeled carriage. She faced the disrespectful youth again. Any commoner could read the disdain writ upon her face -any, it seemed, except the boy before her. Not only had he continued to stand whilst she chased the boxes, he hadn’t offered a word nor eye-blink since his only sentence. Wil could therefore not be certain of his intellectual abilities nor the chance of his aid. She decided, however, that little risk lay in answering his simple query.

“Yes; I said ‘fish.'” She threw a tattered length of scarf over a shoulder. “I require the tu-na this ‘Tuna Helper’ demands.”

“Right,” he said. She watched his Adam’s apple fall and rise below his impassive face. “‘Suh next aisle over.” He went back to stocking the shelf.

Wil gaped after his sudden manner. Recovering, she answered, “Thank you, good sir.” She grasped the steerage of the wheeled carriage and headed where he had indicated. She felt the less correct term of “sir” a safer formality in address; though, how anyone could call such an unkempt and rude person anything besides “peasant” was beyond her.

 

Continued from Ninety-One.
Keep reading to Ninety-Three.

Do You Know Your Influences?

One of my favorite stories is a chapter in Louis Sachar’s Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger. A dubious character named Dr. Pickell hypnotizes a woman to help with her smoking addiction. He tells her the cigarette will turn into a worm in her mouth; then, as is his wont, adds a twisted behavior at the end of their hypnosis session.

“[Dr. Pickell] rubbed his beard and smiled. ‘Whenever your husband says the word “potato,” you will slap him across the face.’

‘When – Fred – says – ‘potato’ – I – will – slap – his – face.'”

A few paragraphs later, we learn the effects of Dr. Pickell’s meddling.

“It was an interesting thing about the word ‘potato.’ Whenever Fred said it, she slapped him. And he’d ask her why she slapped him, but she never remembered slapping him, so they’d get in a big fight, each calling the other crazy. Then they’d kiss and make up, which was nice because her breath didn’t stink.

“They never figured out it had anything to do with saying ‘potato.’…

“But deep down they both must have realized it somehow, because while they used to eat lots of potatoes, they gradually ate fewer and fewer, until they finally stopped eating them altogether.”

You would be surprised how often I think about this story in real life. Sachar is a master children’s author, crafting a deep story in a few, easily understood sentences.

Although I could go on for a bit longer about children’s authors, Louis Sachar, and pickles vs. potatoes; I bring this story up to discuss influences in our lives and whether we notice them or not.

Just think: when you walk into a store, what do you see? Someone has planned what you will see. Someone has looked at studies that say how much space a shopper needs upon entering before he may encounter something on sale. That someone knows that angled aisles are better but not as space-efficient (so they hang tags off the shelves), that we shoppers look for sales, and that we need enough space in an aisle to avoid the ‘butt-brushing effect.’

Advertising is a sneaky business, and one we often think of when considering this subject. As prevalent as purchasing bits of our mind is, however, that is not the influence that I am interested in discussing.

Instead, I want to think about less-evil, subtle influences we are ignorant of; things like choosing to act like our hero, striving to never wear red because you think it’s evil, and picking a genre of music after a coworker won’t stop listening to it.

In my life, I’ve seen examples of all of these behaviors. My brother is in medical school because one of his scout leaders was/is a successful doctor. One of my relatives will not wear red. And our family all got hooked on dubstep because my husband’s coworker played it nonstop.

For me, personally; I do not sew because my mother did not, I read and write because she did, and I abhor shopping and matching and new trends because she always tried to get me to wear (what I thought were) ugly combinations at the store. On sunny days I feel more capable and happy. If a friend makes a nice comment, I feel more confident. A jarring chord or fighting at home raises everyone’s anxiety levels.

When I think about it, the influences seem obvious. When I don’t, they don’t. Either way, I behave impulsively.

When the day is grey and ordinary, do you huddle up and wonder why everything’s dark and depressing? After hearing a favorite song from your youth, do you find yourself fondly (and ignorantly) reminiscing? Or, are you self-aware enough to buck the trends and have a happy-ever-after without any pickles princes?

pickled-cucumbers-1520638_1920

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Check out what I wrote this week. These posts may affect your day:
Wednesday, March 6: Wrote “It Takes Pains to Be Beautiful but I’m No Masochist,” a discussion of whether beauty is skin-deep and how much some people need to help that.
Also, “A Ghost of a Pinned Chance,” in response to Peregrine Arc‘s writing prompt.

Thursday, March 7: “The Cure for Depression: Get Outside,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
And, typed up a free-verse poem, “Seasonal Perspectives.”

Friday, March 8: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Michael Fishman!
I was prolific this week! Wrote “The Seedy Underbelly of Writing.” Be careful out there, people.

Saturday, March 9: Announced the 17th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is Under-the-Table Deals. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, March 10: “I’d Like to Mouse Wheel a Motion,” my entry for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week.

Monday, March 11: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Five.” Pants Hands-down, one of the funniest in the series so far
Tuesday, March 12:  An inspirational quote by @Girlbebrave.

Wednesday, March 13: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Selfish Selflessness,” “The @#*&% Diet,” and quoted Erma Bombeck.

 

Photo Credit:
Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Half-Priced Valentine’s Love

I’m a bit late in posting this, but I wanted to write my final love poem of the (last) week to my favorite holiday in February, Half-Price Chocolate Day (February 15).

I also write this in response to Carrot Ranch‘s weekly writing prompt.*

Excuse me, ma’am, I know it’s bright,
My coming here at break of light;
Yet, may I guess you’re here to mark
Down hearts and cards within this cart?
‘Yes,’ you say? You’ve made my day!
-But, wait! What of the wall this way?
The bags and boxes here, you know,
Are why I woke up, braved the snow.
They’re why, my diet I’ll ignore;
Why, really, I came to this store;
And why, no joke, my world still turns
For what my beating heart still yearns:
My meaning, purpose, lifetime vice
Is V Day choc’late, sold half price.

chocolate-3587896_1920

 

*Carrot Ranch’s official rules:
February 14, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about valentines. It can be Valentine’s Day, the exchange, love for another, romance, or friendship. Have a heart and go where the prompt leads!

Respond by February 19, 2019. Use the comment section [on the site] to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Photo Credit:
Pixabay

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Green and Yellow Fruit Basket

Igor stared at the remains of his shopping trip. His enormous hunch rose and fell in a worried sigh.

He knew he’d gotten what he was sent for. He remembered selecting the shiniest peeler from the grocery shelf and heading to Checkout.

While standing in line behind an old lady with a dog in her purse and in front of a young boy who kept poking his hunch, Igor had noticed the fruit cups.

His stomach had rumbled.

Why not? it had asked. Herr doktor will never know. He’d added them to his peeler, hurriedly paid, and left. Just to be certain, he’d tossed the receipt behind a few scraggly bushes outside the door.

And now, as he stared at the gaping hole his leaking containers had made in the paper bag, he realized a receipt might be a thing to hang onto.

“Ah, Igor,” a deep voice said from the doorway. “Excellent. A minute more and the specimen would be useless.” Dr. Frankenstein held out a hand. “Give me the peeler and let’s get him started.”

Created for Fractured Faith Blog’s Flash Fiction Challenge.