Friday, September 25, 2015

Buying a Greeting Card is a Surprisingly Annoying Experience

Have you tried to buy a greeting card at a drug store or supermarket recently? I don't recommend it. Not unless it's literally the only thing you want to do for the rest of your day.

That's my observation upon trying to execute what I naively assumed would be a simple task: Walking down the street to the drug store near my office and buying a card for someone's bat mitzvah. Oh I didn't expect to actually find a bat mitzvah specific-card. This is Juneau, not Long Island. But nor did I expect to be stymied by the unnecessary specificity of the other options. 

And by that, I mean there is now a greeting card for almost every single occasion OTHER than the occasion for which you might need a greeting card. It's not just "birthday," "get well," "sympathy" and "graduation" anymore. No sir. Greeting cards have become a LOT more specific than that.

Birthday for her. Birthday for him. Birthday for husband from wife. Kindergarten graduation. Every-age-imaginable-birthday from 1 to 100 from cousin, aunt, uncle, group, pet (of course the age 13 birthday cards were all gone). "Funny" birthday. (And I put "funny" in quotes intentionally, because none of them are remotely funny). Dog sympathy. Cat sympathy. Iguana sympathy. Baptism. Baptism of Satanic spawn. Sympathy for iguana's Satanic baptism from chinchilla. Christening. Religious wedding. Retirement. Religious retirement. Wedding from colleagues. Bridal shower given by sister. Bridal shower given by pet tarantula. Bachelor party from sister to brother. Baby shower given by book club. Baby's six month milestone of sitting up without assistance. Book club graduation. Good luck with gall bladder surgery from step-cousin to aunt's step-brother's land tortoise. All of the foregoing options with little environmentally unsound doohickeys inside that play inane music when you open them and therefore cost six times more than the far less annoying, traditionally silent versions.

I must have stood there staring at the rack of cards for half an hour, idly picking them up and reading the messages contained inside, each more cloying, maudlin, corny, and unfunny than the next. Messages I would never in a million YEARS dream of sending to anyone ever. Quotes like: "Your special day is yours to treasure always. Know that you are treasured always too." Or the "funny" ones, with brightly colored goofy cartoons and stupid jokes about being over the hill and and drinking too many margaritas.

I stayed there long after I knew this mission was an epic fail, because I found myself fascinated with the messages. Someone actually gets paid to write this tripe! And presumably people actually like it enough to buy it for $3.69? Truly fascinating. I grumbled a lot of this out loud to myself while other shoppers gave me the side-eye, and I could tell they were wondering if I was mentally stable.

I finally settled on the most neutral "happy birthday" card I could find. One that seemed appropriate for multiple ages and that said something unoriginal but not offensively cheesy like, "Hope your birthday is awesome." I scribbled something in the card about how I couldn't find anything better, and called it good.

All I really needed was a vehicle for a check. Well, I've learned my lesson. Next time, I'll just borrow a plain white envelope from the supply closet at work.

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