I was bored of high school. Into my 11th grade I realized I would have enough credits to graduate early — to skip my so-called “senior” year in high school — if I would only take one course in summer school for 1/2 credit.
So I did.
While the rest of my school friends slogged through another year of high school I was hacking down 17 credits at the university that first semester, and then 19 credits the second semester. I was dead tired but I was happy to be free from a boring existence as a high school student.
That said, when it came time for a graduation ceremony in the middle of the summer — with 400 odd students I didn’t even know, along came my mom who wanted me to buy a new suit for the ceremony. Yeah… I know…. Parents!
A couple weeks before the graduation ceremony she wanted me to go out and buy this special-to-her suit. I don’t know if it was a sign that she’d done her job right and gotten me to a major milepost in life or what, but at the time I don’t know if I ever had owned a brand new suit before so I was up for it. We went to Capitol Court shopping center — which no longer exists — to the JC Penneys store.
We shopped around the racks. I tried on a few suits. Nothing seemed quite right — to me. But what did I know — I’d never bought a suit before. Still, I managed to put my mom off for the moment, saying we could come back another time.
And on Sunday when the newspaper flopped outside our door there was an advert for JC Penney men’s suits. Big Sale. “50% off Original Price” — an offer and a sign which (coincidentally) I saw in a store window just 2 days ago. Some things never change.
We went back to the same store three days later. I went to the same rack I’d looked at before and there I found the same suits I had tried on before. And the price tags. Except they were interesting because the prices on that day were different tags. The “original” price was not twice what it had been three days earlier and the “sale” price was not the same price I could have bought them for on the first visit.
This was the first time in my life that I realized advertising has nothing to do with telling the truth. And over the years the tactics have changed. They no longer actually go out and e tags. They just mark up the retail price to a point where you’d be crazy to buy it and offer lots of sales at lower prices to make you think you’re getting a bargain.
Then again, a bargain is getting something you want at a price you are happy to pay.
I don’t have a lot of needs nowadays. I do have a few wants, but there aren’t actually all that many of those either. When Peg and I go to the mall for exercise — joining the morning mall-walkers — I look into storefronts and wonder why people spend as much as they do for the things on offer. They must really need them. Or really want them. But one thing is sure: just because someone tells me that an item is “on sale” I don’t get excited. Heck, that same item was on sale the day before and it will be on sale the day after. The item is always on sale…. that’s what it’s there for!