Last Friday I went downtown in my lunch break to run a bunch of errands for our impending vacation in the US. As I am walking, minding my own business, someone suddenly stepped into my way, holding out a fan of scratch tickets to me. I tried to politely refuse but was met with a wave of words, from which I could hardly make out the words "doesn't cost you anything", "takes you only a minutes", and others along that line. Slightly annoyed I took a ticket and noticed relieved that I had won a "small price". Happily taking the pen he handed me (I am one of these people who are always happy about receiving pens, since there never seems to be one at hand if I need one), his speedy monologue continued. Being presented with a chart about rates and plans, I was showered with information on how I could receive two cell phones plus some wonderful flat rate all inclusive package at no cost. I attempted several times to politely interrupt him, referring to the cell phone I already had and barely ever used. Ignoring this, the waterfall of words continued without me even being able to take in much of what he said. A few minutes later he had finished his speech and I again reminded him - this time slightly unnerved - that I already had a phone and didn't need two more. Seriously, for what does one person need 3 cell phones? Unless you have a business and want to separate your private life/cell phone from your business, one doesn't even need two. He looked at me fairly blank and said: You can't say no to this offer... It's free!!
At this point, something snapped inside me. As calmly as I could, I told him again that I could, because I have absolutely no use for two more cell phones and awesome plans attached to them. Heck, I barely ever use the cell phone I have, except for calling Richard or friends for a minute or two if I'll be late, etc; all the talking I do from my home phone. And even though I know that it wasn't his intention to do so, I was annoyed by how he took excessive and useless consumerism for granted. Just because it doesn't cost me anything right now doesn't mean I absolutely need to have it. My life is cluttered enough as it is, without two more cell phones to keep track of. Why is it, that something should suddenly gain a purpose just because it does not cost me anything at this point?
It does not make sense to me, thus, I walked on running my errands, contemplating senseless consumerism in this world. I know, I'm definitely not beyond being sometimes a thoughtless consumer, but especially recent scandals concerning food have made me become more aware of certain things. I am on the brink of becoming a vegetarian (if Greek and barbecue meat weren't so good), insist on organic animal products and buy other organic food and clothes whenever feasible (not for every price, and please, organic bananas are a joke!). Consuming is part of our daily lives, and in itself nothing bad (why not take advantage of the offers available), but after a certain point, it's not merely consuming any more. This is to actually taking a step back and thinking before buying the next-best thing next time, just because it looks like a good deal, since just because it doesn't cost me anything, it may still not be free.