Yes, I understand. It is not your fault. Have you thought of handing it over to your higher power? There were a group of pale looking people huddled up at the basement of the Woollies car park. This car park is particularly cheerless. It has cold-blue neon lighting and looks so grim. Hard concrete columns with paint scrapings left by cars whose drivers took too sharp a turn around those columns. It is deliberate though, we know that. The only way out of the bunker-like environment of this soul-less car park is to walk the gauntlet of ramps and escape inside the warm welcoming, and cash yearning bosom of Woollies ‘the real food people’ shop. The lighting there is warm, inviting, and at the entrance are large pictures of moist apples, and bunches of rosy-cheeked kids showing real food eating with real healthy foods.
The people at the basement car park were part of a group doing a meeting. They were self admitted shopping-addicts. Each time they met it was to try and stop the disease of uncontrolled shopping. A careful observer would notice few men, but women formed the majority. Many had twitching and jerky hand movements. A result of handing over credit-cards, often involuntary. They had no control. But, as it was often pointed out by their leader, a bearded guru-like man of a somewhat elderly appearance; It was not their fault. It is a disease, he kept reminding the group. One woman told the meeting while standing, she had been clean for over seven weeks. A loud clapping followed. When she sat down she had tears in her eyes.
Of course, the shopping addiction does not include normal everyday household items such as apples, salt or oat-meal. No, the goods that are so addictive are generally grouped under this terrible but very addictive and pernicious name; ACCESSORIES. If ever it was possible to become addicted, it was to that word and all that it entails. It hints at something that is terribly needed. We all need accessories to living, don’t we? We can’t live by air alone. We need an accessory. Anything and everything actually falls under accessories. The shopper buys something, comes home, and casually mention they bought an accessory. The husband (or wife), dutifully bound, looks up from the newspaper, often The Daily Telegraph, and mumbles ‘oh that’s nice dear.’ The Daily Telegraphs of this world are of course totally in tandem with the world of accessories. Page after page they feature adds for handbags, lettuce spinners, sound-bars, 3d printers, rocket-like juice makers, vacuum-cleaners. You name it. It is all full on party-time for the shopping addict. The lure of handing over the credit card and walk out with something wrapped up, anything really. The zing-tone of the scanner is enough to set some off on a shopping binge.
One wonders if this desire to shop for ‘accessories’ is associated to the much heralded ‘life-style? Everything is now linked to life-style. From a Norwegian chair to a drill from Bunnings, all is part of a much needed life-style. At many social events it is now perfectly acceptable and normal to ask about someone’s life-style.
One man at the group was sobbing quietly in a corner. When asked, why?, he confessed to having busted a few days before. ‘I don’t know what happened,’ he said. ‘I found myself at Bunnings and bought a hammer-drill. It all went so quickly, it was done in no-time.’ The man was heaving with remorse. It was heart rending to watch. ‘My wife found out. She had enough. She is leaving me. She told me I have six hammer-drills already.’ Some still in their boxes. The floor is littered with Alan keys.’
The group leader sagely and ever so gently, told the man that busting is fairly normal and not his fault. It is a disease, he said. ‘Just hand it over to your higher power.’ We all get stronger after each bust and pick ourselves up and try again. One lady shared she has over 50 handbags. ‘Oh, that’s nothing, another said. I have over 70 pairs of shoes.’ They all clapped again after this revelation and sharing.
The group shared cups of tea afterwards with an Aldi biscuit, and each went their own way.
It is not easy.