The store’s aisles were decorated with tinsel, coloured lights, and reflective paper, giving the appearance of multiple runways at a busy airport.
Each one, lining up and taking the unassuming traveller on a journey into the land of consumption.
I was part of the trip too. Having only popped in for a loaf of bread, I now found myself standing in front of the fishing section, looking through the marked down “bargains” in the pre Christmas sale.
The layout struck me as a great place for any aspiring air traffic controller to develop their career over the store’s intercom. “ Man in black jeans walking aisle 12, please taxi to aisle 14 and hold short for further instructions.” Yes, this was shaping up as a great day’s entertainment. After all, it was free and at the expense of others. “ Family looking at the remote controlled helicopters in aisle 5, you are cleared for take off. Safe journey and God speed.”
Such a simple fantasy gave me much amusement, but it wasn’t until after I chuckled aloud, that I realised people were sneaking inquisitive looks at the scruffy, unshaven, lone man in aisle 6, at the fishing section. It was time to push back and leave, the bread could wait. My air traffic controller voice needed deactivating.
This was our first trip back to the city after ten glorious and relaxing days parked up at a quiet coastal campsite. And the transformation that had occurred during the festive season build up was glaringly obvious to both Rachel and I. Our return to civilisation coincided with the biggest marketing campaign of the year and adverts everywhere seemed to be encouraging, coercing, even commanding consumers to go out and buy.
As in Heinlein’s book, we felt like strangers in a strange land.
Where, I wondered, were the messages encouraging “a day’s boogie boarding with your kids?” or “ a stroll along the beach with loved ones at sunset?”
By late afternoon it was over. Our drive back to the campground came with a collective sigh and headaches. After parking up, home made decorations came out for another year and found their way around the camper van’s interior. Were they, along with the reflective tinsel and baubles lit up our little home like that of a jumbo jet cockpit.
Only here, the only advertisement of the Christmas season came from our solitary neighbour – a flowering Pohutukawa tree.
ViDeO – ” the story of stuff”