I knew a used car salesman who would never sell a car that was worth more than a few hundred dollars. He would sell quick and cheap transportation to those desperate enough to buy from him. But if he had a price on a car that read “500 down and 100 a month” that meant he paid five hundred for it. Whatever the down payment was is what he actually bought it for and the monthly payments were profit. Usually, there was something wrong with the car, something that would show up in a month or two, and if the person he sold the car wasn’t making payments he knew he would get them to come back anyway.
Human beings are, by and large, susceptible to advertising. Worse, the deeper they invest into the concept the harder it is for them, as a whole, to resist the idea that they’re really believing lies and for someone else’s profit.
Our local grocery store has weekly sales that drop the prices on some products but what they don’t tell you is they have raised the prices on nearly everything else. But you knew that. You know they aren’t going to lose money to help you. You know they don’t know who you are, or care who you are, or even so much as give a damn if what they sell you is poison. Right before and right after any big sporting even they’ll sell soft drinks and snacks dirt cheap, hoping to pump more High Fructose Corn Syrup into your system, setting you up for an addiction that will include nearly every product they can put on the shelf.
Moreover the idea of spending money to save money is more than a little skewed. You save money by not spending money. Saving money by spending money is akin to bombing someone to keep the peace. What they’re actually doing when something is on sell is not charging you the whole amount on that product, or merely wounding you instead of killing your budget. It’s like someone shooting you in the leg and telling you how much better off you are than a head shot.
Last night I ran into a guy that has been in and out of the gym scene as a trainer as long as I’ve been in Valdosta. He’s a greying and tubby guy, not the kind you’d see as someone physically fit. He talks a mean game of it but then again, I’m immune to that sort of thing. Not only have I known him for a very long time, I know his wife. Now she’s the one in the family who is the most fit and most dedicated to the idea of being fit. She also makes more money than he does. She’s hard working and dedicated and he talks a lot. He’s managed to sell himself to one gym after another in town and people keep buying into the spiel.
But stop and think about what I have written about this man so far. What do you think he’s really trying to sell here? If you know the type like I know the type then you realize what sort of person he is and what he is really doing. Yet there really isn’t any sort of societal remedy to this sort of thing because we’ve bought into the idea that selling is good and the market will take care of itself, which all the evidence in the world points in the opposite direction. Truly free markets will lead us to used car salesmen and High Fructose Corn Syrup. It has.
Even the idea of a gym has its used car salesman type approach to it. Think about it; you sell one hundred memberships in a month and if you really thought those people were going to show up you wouldn’t have any room in the place at all. You know, you truly know, about ten percent of the people might show. They’ll wear out your treadmills but you have the other 90% of them paying for that wear and tear without even coming in more than once or twice a year. Gym lose money on dedicated people and they make money on those people who have a membership and use it as a sort of , “Tomorrow I’ll eat better and go work out” thing but they rarely do.
Grocery stores have to get you into the building but gyms only have to sell you the idea that you ought to show up. Regardless of what a gym might show you or tell you in an ad, the truth of the matter is you have to get off your ass and work out to get anything out of it. That well-built blonde on the billboard is some model they hired to pose for the ad. The real truth is you’ll be working out with a mother of three that needs an hour of alone time and wants desperately to fit into jeans that she was wearing a decade ago. She could give a damn less about you, doesn’t care how much you can lift, and isn’t impressed at all with the sounds you make. This isn’t a commercial; it’s real life, and real life means there are a lot of people there just trying to get through the damn day. They aren’t showing those people in ads, are they? They certainly haven’t told you that you are one of them.
You are. So am I. And likely, even those women who pose for ads are really just trying to get through the day without getting too caught up with what’s being sold and told versus what we all know reality looks like. To be part of the process is not to be immune to the process. To be immune to the process doesn’t mean you can escape it entirely.
Take a deep breath. Look around you. Who is it you are? Who are you trying to sell yourself as, even to you? We live in a universe of ads and commercials. Don’t buy into it. And don’t sell into it, either.