December 15th, 2007

Good and Bad News

Well, it is good news to me, as well as surprising, to discover that 28% of Canadians are currently boycotting Walmart (in a marketing text I read for work; sorry I can’t offer a link). I was feeling really pleased to be a part of a group so much larger than I’d have thought. I haven’t been able to shop there, despite my delight in inexpenisve consumer durables, since I read Barbara Ehrenreich’s gently terrifying bookNickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, about minimum-wage jobs and the lives lived by their workers.

Anyway, I felt good and solidarity-like for about 12 minutes, before I realized Walmart is doing just fine. More than a quarter of the country is pointedly not shopping there, and the store is thriving.

It’s maybe that “pointedly” above that was the problem–is the 28% really comprised of people who would’ve shopped there anyway? As I tell this news to my friends, friends who are mainly young people who rent their homes, have a lot of education, low-level professional jobs and no children, I have found that almost all of us fall within the 28%, but what would we have been buying if we did shop there? Walmarts aren’t easily available to the downtown-dwelling, non-car-driving population; the year before my boycott, I remember what I bought there distinctly, because I went only once. A friend’s father drove us as there as a special favour, and I bought a coffeemaker and yoga pants, for a grand total of about $50. For the year. Pre-boycott.

My brother points out that people will take on the strong stand when the costs to their personal happiness and inconveniences are minimal, and this is sadly true. I still don’t buy much organic food because it is so expensive, even though I do believe it is better for the environement. The sad truth is, I haven’t much buying power.

Then yesterday, I was at a party, whinging about this to a group of the converted, one of whom pointed out that it’s only by talking about these issues that a relatively powerless demographic can gain some power. My nickels and dimes don’t add up to much, but I can tell people who have more to spend, or just so many little people that our collective power adds up to something. So I’m telling you this–not that you should boycott Walmart, but that you might want to if you read about their treatment of their employees and think about these issues the way I do. So…that’s it, I’ve told you. And I think that’s for the good.

Other good news is that Polident, the denture-cleaning people, now make one of those effervescing pellets for retainers. The bad news is that I wear a retainer, but you knew that. Now it is a sparkling clean retainer.

But, ok, ok, the *really* good news is that The Journey Anthology was reviewed in The Globe and Mail‘s Books section this morning, and they said amazing things about my short story, “Chilly Girl.” Also the other stories in the collection, all of which blow me away, and the whole thing was quite joyous to read (my protagonist gets called someone else’s name, but that’s pretty minor. Quibbles!!)

And the other good news is that, despite living under a rock, I have numerous lovely friends who call and email when something nice happens. Otherwise I might never have known.

Let’s get wrecked on Rolling Rock

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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