Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
IT’S IN THE CARDS
During the past year, as the economy has slowed down, many large corporations have announced significant layoffs. Whenever I hear these reports on the business news, I feel sad for the many thousands of people who soon will be out of work.
However, when another large company recently announced that earnings are down and it must lay off 1,500 workers, I had to rejoice. I’m sorry for the employees, of course, but I have no sympathy for the American Greetings Corporation or any other firm involved in the sinister greeting card industry.
Many industries are accused of having a negative impact on society. The so-called “vice” industries include: tobacco, liquor, firearms, gambling, and Hollywood. But no industry has done more damage—no industry has soured inter-personal relationships by making men look bad—than the greeting card industry.
There once was a time when a man was required to acknowledge only three days during the year: his anniversary, his wife’s birthday, and Valentine’s Day. (For many men’s memories, that’s already a couple too many.) Flowers or candy or a small gift would suffice. A greeting card was optional.
Then the greeting card industry—using mind-control techniques that would have made the KGB proud—forever altered the landscape of America with a two-pronged attack. First, they created out of thin air brand new holidays and convinced everyone (well, everyone without a Y chromosome) that these new holidays are just as important as Christmas and Easter. These holidays go way beyond the husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend relationship and require men to purchase a greeting card for practically every female they’ve ever met.
A few decades ago, who ever heard of Grandparent’s Day, Secretary’s Day, Nurse’s Day, Teacher’s Day, Hair Stylist’s Day, Checkout Clerk’s Day, Next-door Neighbor’s Day, or The-Lady-Pushing-A-Shopping-Cart-Down-Main-Street-Talking-To-Herself Day?
In collusion with calendar manufacturers (their goal is to list a holiday inside every one of the available 365 boxes), the greeting card industry invented these pseudo holidays and men have been in the dog house ever since.
The second phase of the industry’s devious plan was to convince America that a greeting card is required for all occasions. If a man buys his wife a Porsche for her birthday, but does not also give her a greeting card (which nowadays costs almost as much as a Porsche), she is offended and the bewildered husband will spend the next two weeks sleeping on the couch wondering what went wrong.
The other day my young daughter showed me her report card. I congratulated her on the good grades, gave her a big hug, and told her how proud I was. When she continued to stand there with a look of anticipation on her face, I said, “What? What is it, honey?”
Her face suddenly fell. “You…you didn’t get me a ‘Report card card’?” she asked.
“A what?” I replied incredulously. At that she burst into tears and ran to her room. Obviously she is also receiving high marks in her instructions on how to transform some unsuspecting young man into a bewildered husband in a decade or two.
Despite the pain and suffering greeting card companies have inflicted on men over the years, you can’t helped but be amazed at their marketing genius. Imagine if a particular fast food company told the nation that from now on, every seventh day will be known as “Big Mac Monday,” and any man who does not take his family out for burgers each week will be considered an insensitive clod. (Yes, I realize in some households this would be a reduction in fast food meals.) And most importantly, imagine that most of the country willingly went along with this shameless plan to boost burger sales.
This is essentially what has happened with the greeting card industry. They invented a demand for their product where none previously existed, and America took the bait.
Well, things have finally changed. Greeting card sales have been hurt by the availability of online, email greetings. I have both received and sent these email cards (try bluemountain.com), and they are cute, clever, animated, and most of all, free! Beats the heck out of paying $5.95 for an oversized, triple-folded card with a sappy poem that requires extra postage.
I can’t wait until they devise software which allows you to enter the names and birthdays of all your friends and relatives, and the program will automatically send out an appropriate email greeting on the correct date. Nothing says “Thinking of you” like a computer-generated message.
I suppose I’m being a little harsh. I shouldn’t gloat at the misfortunes of a large company. To show my concern, I’ll send the American Greetings Corporation a sympathy card—by email, of course.
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