The Big Box is having a really good sale on backyard grills. But this is not really a retail story as much as it is an American politics and religion story.
We’ve got all the sale models of Weber grills lined up in front of the store. And we had these placards in front of each set of grills announcing the (really good) sale prices in big bold letters. But we had to give up on those placards after only a couple of hours today because people were moving them around in an attempt to scam an even lower price for the most expensive grills.
This happens a lot in retail. It’s a dumb person’s idea of a clever scheme. It’s how slow-witted people attempt to pull a fast one. What they do is take the $299 placard in front of the two-burner grills and switch it with the $699 placard in front of the fancier five-burner grills. Then they indignantly accuse the store of pulling a bait-and-switch and try to bully the cashier into letting them buy the more expensive product at the cheaper product’s price.
One advantage to this scheme is that when it doesn’t work, you’re less likely to get busted for shoplifting than you are when you get caught red-handed with a bunch of Dewalt cordless drills under your coat. One disadvantage to this scheme is that it usually doesn’t work.
The biggest disadvantage to this scheme, though, is that attempting it gradually turns you into the kind of person incapable of telling the truth to others or even to yourself. It causes you to slowly lose your grip on reality, sliding into a fantasy realm in which you’re forever denying obvious and necessary truth and in which you are perpetually miserable.
See, in order to pull off this scam, you have to lie. You have to lie in several ways. First you have to engage in the deception of moving the signs or price tags around, and then you have to flat-out lie to the cashier claiming that you found them that way. And then — and this is the really dangerous, pernicious bit for you — you have to lie by accusing someone else of being the one who is lying. You have to pretend that you’re the victim of the lie, and so you have to pretend to be victimized and aggrieved by this dishonest cashier and this evil, deceptive store: Who do you people think you are advertising one price then trying to switch it to something so much higher when customers get to the register? The nerve of you people!
To make all those lies convincing, you have to appear yourself to be wholly convinced. And the best way to appear wholly convinced is to be wholly convinced — to inhabit the lie as fully as possible, muffling and muzzling the part of you that knows it isn’t true. The more you do this, the better you’ll be able to train yourself to ignore the ever-smaller part of you that remembers what’s true and what is not. You’ll get good at this — so good, that you’ll wind up doing it all the time. You’ll eventually forget the reality and the truth and just come to exist wholly within the alternate reality you’ve constructed.
And within that counterfeit reality, remember, you are always and above all the victim, bombarded on all sides by liars and scammers who are constantly trying to pull one over on you. The reality you will come to embrace and to prefer to the truth will insist that you are ceaselessly aggrieved and put upon and being wronged at every turn.
And that is ultimately how you will come to feel, all the time, every day, without any possibility of relief.
Even when this “works” in your favor, you’ll be unable to enjoy it. You’ll have that fancy name-brand five-burner grill that you got for the price of the two-burner store-brand option, but every time you use it you’ll think of those nasty people at the store who tried to take advantage of you, and how everyone everywhere is always trying to take advantage of you. You’ll remember what an awful place this world is, and how awful everyone you meet is, and how badly you’re constantly being mistreated. And that is all you’ll be able to taste when you cook anything on that shiny new grill.
Anyway, that’s why I had to go out and remove all the placards in front of our big sale this morning. And it’s why Fox News is the No. 1 source for news on cable television. And it’s why Donald Trump is president. And it’s why you’ll want to steer clear of most white evangelical churches if you care about being happy or free, or if you’re at all concerned about the salvation of your eternal soul.