IVP - Strangely Dim - Consumerism Will Eat Itself

July 22, 2005

Consumerism Will Eat Itself

by David A. Zimmerman

I've seen a lot of things, but until recently I'd never seen a giant get waylaid by a dwarf. That's just what happened in my local Walgreens parking lot not too long ago.

OK, just to clarify: when I say "local Walgreens," I mean one of the three Walgreenses within a short bike ride of my house. And when I say "a short bike ride," I by no means am saying that I actually ride my bike there. I have a bike but only recently purchased a bike lock, which I have used as my chief excuse for driving all over Lombard and surrounding territories when I could just as easily walk.

I also didn't see an actual giant or an actual dwarf. Walgreens wasn't offering a drive-in showing of The Lord of the Rings. Actually I was watching a massive SUV wrestle with, and lose to, a mini-shopping cart.

It started out innocently enough: the driver hiked the long climb from the ground to the driver's seat of his suburban tank, and in the interest of efficiency pulled forward rather than back out of his parking space. Trouble is, parked immediately in front of his truck was a cute little shopping cart--one of those junior models that fit in the narrow aisles of your local Walgreenses. As the SUV made contact, the cart toppled, as might have been expected. But instead of being crushed (as might have been expected) the cart attached itself to the ramming bars on the front of the SUV and refused to let go.

The driver tried to break free by driving back and forth for a little bit, but eventually he had to admit temporary defeat. He put the truck in park and rappelled down to the parking lot and hiked around to the front bumper, where he and I assessed the situation.

Proposed solution 1: Driver lifts the truck, I pull the cart out from underneath.
This solution failed miserably. The driver couldn't lift the truck high enough, and the cart had this little piece that had lodged itself deep within the hollowed out ramming bar.
Proposed solution 2: Driver wiggles the cart until it breaks free from the truck.
This solution likewise failed miserably. We couldn't get enough leverage on the cart to wriggle it loose; the piece that was lodged in the ramming bar was locking the cart in place.
Proposed solution 3: Driver lifts the truck, I pull the cart out from underneath.
This solution was hauntingly reminiscent of proposed solution 1, with essentially the same outcome.

By this time my groceries were starting to spoil and I was getting bored. I also got the sneaking suspicion that the driver was blaming me for my lack of ingenuity while he was hoisting the car two centimeters above its resting position. Fortunately for our relationship, however, two other guys noticed our dilemma and came over to try out

Proposed solution 4: Driver plus two others lift the truck, I pull the cart out from underneath.
It worked! The cart suffered no apparent damage, but the ramming bar--which had only done what it was designed to do--was scratched up quite a bit. We all parted ways feeling quite macho and ready to get on with our lives, but I've since been trying to figure out how to justify posting this story on Strangely Dim. I'll venture a moral to the story, but feel free to post your own.
Proposed moral 1: Bigger isn't necessarily better.
The shopping cart--with no engine, no steel reinforcements, no ramming bars--handed the big bad SUV its cowboy hat. The driver drove off with his tail lights between his legs.
Proposed moral 2: Consumerism will eat itself.
Combining a lust for the biggest, baddest car on the road with a ubiquitous corporate selling machine that caters to a lust for convenience leads to the sort of outcome we might expect by combining matter with anti-matter, if you are geeky enough to follow my meaning.
Proposed moral 3: "In the abundance of counsel there is wisdom"
"Many hands make light work"
or whatever proverb you'd like to apply.

Being naturally geeky myself, I'm partial to proposed moral 2.


Next week I'm the MC and songleader for our church's Vacation Bible School. I'm nervous--kids are a tough crowd for me. But we'll have a strong police presence, I'm sure.

The week after that is the Wizard World Chicago Comic Book Convention. I get to go and sit at a booth and (I hope) serve as chaplain for the event. Can't wait to take someone's confession . . .

Go in peace.


Posted by Dave Zimmerman at July 22, 2005 8:13 AM Bookmark and Share


strange that you link to walgreens but not the convention.

Comment by: alpha at July 22, 2005 8:51 AM

Glad to see you posting so often! Thanks for this great post, too.

If we've got to have a moral, I'll go with moral #2 as well.

re: the VBS police presence -- I suggest not going with mounted police, as horses tend to attract rather than repel kids. Riot gear might be helpful, especially those person length clear sheilds.

Or perhaps you might consider getting some burly guys to wear those bright yellow windbreakers with "Security" on the back? If any of the VBSers have been to concerts, they've already learned not to mess with those guys. And if they haven't been to any concerts yet, well, yours will be their first, and they might as well learn with you!

And, finally, Chaplain to a Comic Con? Dude, you have ARRIVED! Incredibles critique notwithstanding, will you wear a cape with your clerical collar?

Comment by: Macon at July 22, 2005 8:52 AM

missed first post by 1 stinkin minute!

Comment by: Macon at July 22, 2005 8:55 AM

My apologies. Here's the link to the convention:


Macon, hope the move went well. Have you mounted your gun rack onto your pickup yet?

Having mounted police at VBS might speed up the carpeting process a bit. But I like the idea of burly security guards--gives my diva claims greater credibility.

This year will be the tenth anniversary of the Wizard Chicago chapel--IF they give us a room. I'm still waiting for approval. I don't see why they wouldn't, but Wizard isn't one for quick e-mail replies. I'd wear some sort of ornamental dress at the convention, but I think it'll be easier for people to find me if I dress like a normal human being. BTW, there's an equally humungous convention in Dallas in early November. You should check it out. I'll bet Chewbacca will be there.

Comment by: dave at July 22, 2005 9:00 AM

Forget the moral; I vote for the immoral. If the driver had just sped up, he could have totalled that miserable piece of cart and taught it a lesson it'd never forget: If you mess with corporate America, you WILL get crushed.

Comment by: Peter at July 22, 2005 10:21 AM

Well, there's an angle I hadn't considered . . .

Don't EVER underestimate the tenacity of the mini-shopping cart, however.

Comment by: dave at July 22, 2005 10:36 AM

Funny thing about this... my father-in-law wrote an editorial piece for the Des Moines Register regarding the Whirlpool offer to buy Maytag. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050721/OPINION03/507210355/1035/archive

Basically, Maytag is (was) the giant in the industry - maybe not financially, but for quality (I have my own opinion on that). In any case, it's a pretty funny read - and "kind of" relates to this story.

Comment by: Dan Webster at July 22, 2005 11:12 AM

Good editorial. Thanks for posting the link, Dan. I had a similar loyalty to Massey Ferguson when my dad worked for them. Every green and yellow John Deere tractor or mower was a blight on my landscape. I still react negatively to them, even though my dad hasn't worked for Massey in decades.

Comment by: dave at July 22, 2005 12:46 PM

step 1: move to TX
step 2: get pickup truck
step 3: mount gun rack

Sadly, I'm still between steps 1 & 2

The Dallas Comics Con looks fun! What would be even more fun: YOU come down for it, we'll meet at the Con, get our geek on, then you can come back and visit us in Austin!

Comment by: Macon at July 25, 2005 10:13 AM

I'd love to do that, but the Dallas convention is smack between two trips, and I've got to save some time to check for subject-verb agreement in IVP's high-quality books. Maybe next time I'm in Dallas, though, we could meet in Waco for a soda at the Dr. Pepper museum.


Sound refreshing?


Comment by: dave at July 25, 2005 2:18 PM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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