Now and then I’m hit with a creepy feeling of being on the set of a horror movie in which beasts are ravenously consuming everything in their path. The feeling is reminiscent of the short story read in school “Leiningen Versus the Ants” in which a plantation owner battles columns of army ants that are obliterating every living thing in their path. The other classic reference is to locusts. Masses of locusts.
The feeling hit me a few days ago in the cafeteria at the huge IKEA store in Coquitlam, BC.
The previous time that I felt such a wave of near revulsion was at a WalMart Superstore.
In each case I felt overwhelmed by excessive consumption. I was part of it, to be sure, but that just exacerbated my squeamishness with guilt.
In the IKEA situation, it was the steady flow of people through the cafeteria, chowing down on thousands upon thousands of meatballs, fish sticks, and tons of potatoes––mashed and French fried––not to mention the gallons of gravy. I envisioned how many times this scene was being replicated at IKEA stores around the world. Repeated day after day.
As for WalMart, it was a woman with not one, but two shopping carts stacked to overflowing, hyperventilating on a shopper’s high. She was near incoherent with consumption-induced euphoria, babbling to nobody in particular about the “deals” she was getting. I envisioned how many times this scene was being replicated at WalMart stores around the world. Repeated day after day.
I don’t mean to single out the above two companies. Choose your poison. We could add Costco and most any other major supermarket chain to the mix. Remember when Canadian Tire, was, um tires and other automotive stuff? Have you been to any of the new two-story monsters recently? Just another superstore with tires and batteries on the side.
I understand this all provides jobs. I understand that we live in a consumer-driven economy. What I don’t understand is how we can keep this up in the long run. Our national economy, our global economy, is a pyramid scheme that is dependent upon endless growth. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and doomed to failure with some poor sap eventually left holding the empty bag. That sap may be all of us.