shopping and behavioral control

howdy, gentle readers.  it has been a very long while since my last post; hope all is well with you.  not much is happening lately.  pool has been quiet, and i’m just trucking along.

soooo . . . this being the thanksgiving season, i decided to take advantage of the various black friday sales that littered the landscape.  i picked this one store to go to since it has the items that i want.  i will not give the specifics, but it is a very large chain store known to use an almost christmas-y color scheme.  so i arrived at the store, waited in line for a bit, and was finally allowed entrance to sanctum santorum, also known as the front door, where good little boys and girls were allowed to purchase everything their hearts desired, without the stale alcoholic lap of santa.  (that’s next month.)

when you walk into a typical large retain store, you’d expect to be able to roam around and pick out the items you want.  but for this black friday sale (technically black thursday in this instance, since they opened on thanksgiving night), the store has cordoned off all the aisles except for one U-shaped route, and we (the customers) were expected to use only this route that would require us to walk around the entire store.  moments after the store opened, the line broke, and a number of people just started to cut through the store to get to the sections they wanted, by walking.  no one ran.  meanwhile, the actual line was moving like molasses, because a typical shopper liked to browse and pick through the inventory.  which meant that the line would stop moving.

as soon as i saw this route, my gut instinct screamed “herding”.  the store tried to herd the customers like good cattle, never mind that we all have different wants and different shopping speeds, not to mention the high likelihood that people would be tired after a long thanksgiving day of cooking and eating and therefore less patient.  personally, i thought that allowing people to shop normally would be the better option.  i suppose the store can make the argument that the U-shaped route would keep the customers safer and discourage running in the store, but i’d disagree.  if people were to run, they would run anyway, and the tight route would actually create a bottleneck and make things more dangerous.  originally i thought all the retail locations of this store did the route, but i later found out that was not the case.  i guess the manager of my location decided on this route tactic all by him/herself.

in life, there seems to be people who always try to control how others act.  personally i have no idea what their motivations are, but certain folks really get their jollies off on controlling people.  from the ridiculous large-soda ban in nyc to smoking bans, some folks are always looking for ways to tell people how to eat, how to act, or what to do.  (by the way, i hate smoking.  but i really hate the hyper-aggressive ways various interest groups try to ban smoking.)  all i can say is that no, they do not know any better than the rest of the populace.  they just think they do.

so here’s a suggestion.  let me do my thing, and you can do your thing.  no need to “guide” me to how you want it done.

and a belated happy thanksgiving.  🙂

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