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May 2014

Re-packaging = Pay more, Get less

The job of The Curmudgeon is to, basically, be a grumpy ol’ coot. That’s what curmudgeon’s do. Be niggardly and churlish. Strue’s bob – check out a decent dictionary. But, there are levels of grumpy… There’s plain old “everyday grumpy” – which is the default setting. This level entails suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (aka - putting up with bog-standard life problems and common, garden-variety jackasses) with only minimal muttering under the breath and specifically prohibits delivering clips ‘round the earhole to bratty kids and spitting in blind people’s begging bowls. One level up brings us to Defcon 2. At this point, curmudgeons become pissy with a vengeance. Brain processes like: “audio input, thought, compose reply, apply suitable social nicety/semblance of manners/etiquette filter, speak response” become much shorter. It’s simple. Remove filter, say what you really think, offend recipient (plus all others within earshot) and move on. Gloriously liberating – and occasionally hazardous to your health, as may be imagined.

Then, there’s the ultimate “Plains-of-Megiddo-apocalyptic-ek’t-nou-rerig-my m*er-gestrip” top-of-the-range, fur-lined, ocean-going, hot n’ cold running vitriol setting. Sorta like putting Megadeath on the CD player, cranking up the boombox to the oh-my-gawd volume setting and putting it out on the pavement outside of the ol’ folks home on a Sunday morning. Sure to get a result…

It’s this “zero to (thermo-nucleic acid spitting) hero” setting which is instantly achieved seemingly whenever I go shopping lately. Things start out all cool, calm & collected. “Don’t forget we need more dog food, oh and adult diapers…” And then comes the first example of “The Great Modern Supermarket Con Game!” You know the one, the one where supermarket packaging has been made as confusing as (in)humanly possible. The one that insults whatever intelligence you may still possess and blithely assumes that you are some drooling cretin. An idiot that can be flim-flammed in the wink of an eye because (according to a growing number of companies) it is assumed that you (Joe/Jane average-schmuck) cannot possibly tell from month-to-month (and sometimes even from day-to-day) that you, the consumer, are getting (a lot) less product for (an even more lot) of your hard-earned loot! And, often, they’re dead right. Tons of us are dof.

You want examples? What? You don’t know, what I’m blathering on about? Okey-donkey then, let’s parade a few of the “usual suspects” for your jaded peepers then, shall we? Spuds – noticed how you can’t get a 10 kg. bag any more? That the 7 kg. “value-pack” now costs plenty more than a 10 kg. bag ever did? Cheese – cheese was always sold by the kilo. A monkey could figure it out. Now, you get “per 800g. eezipaks”, “150g. weekend selections”, “boutique brands” and “connoisseur ranges” which are sold per 100 g. – and sometimes by the gram! When I went to school (believe it or not), there were 1 000 grams in a kilo. Used to be that even us sub-humans could figure out a per kilo price and say “Ok, that’s pretty good – we’ll get some of that.” Now, doffies blink, just see the unit price and take it. Get to the till, get fleeced, go off whingeing, get home check out the slip and it begins to dawn on even the most cloth-eared lummox that they just paid (ie.) R227.00 (excl. vat) for a wodge of cheese that wouldn’t feed a dormouse. One more…? For the road…? Okaay… Meat – any kind of vleis. Just yer average “Shishi’nyama – nothing to write home to Grammy about. How about boerie? Sixty-odd bucks for minced leftovers, fat n’ spices squished into a casing? Over 20 bucks for maybe 300g’s worth of sausage that will leave you thinking wistfully about visiting the Mackie D’s on your way home from the braai you’re at? But, hey… 20 bucks looks a lot more affordable that sixty-odd – don’t it? Well, if you bought it, you just lost in the great “Let’s bulls**t the consumer game”. Thank you for playing and please don’t forget to drop your brain in the “useless grey matter” bin on your way out…

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