As many readers of the site know, before I landed a job as an “ad man” in Manhattan I had the wonderful misfortune to work in one of America’s most giant factories, the Amazon.com processing warehouse in Breinigsville, PA. Working 10-11 hour days 5-6 days a week, I got a first hand look at the unbelievably pointless and sad things that many Americans are buying on Amazon. I didn’t just look, though. I judged. I’ve been running a Twitter called AmazonEmployee for a while now, calling people out on their poorly made purchasing choices.
I’ve written a bunch of longer, even more judgmental blurbs on YeahHeDid about it, but it’s been a while since my last (the biggest reason being that I don’t work there anymore). However, one sect of Amazon.com has been on my mind constantly since I left those walls for good, and it’s time to bring it out into the light…. Amazon’s ‘gag gifts’ section. I have one particular example to share with you, just a taste of the idiocy that is available to you to purchase for people who won’t be your friends for much longer.
The purpose of gag gifts are simple, almost impossibly so: to get a cheap laugh out of someone if you don’t have the sense of humor to do it on your own. It’s undoubtedly a multi-million dollar industry, as we’re all well aware of just how many unfunny people we’ve met in our lives (so many). If you can sit a moment and try to comprehend all of the things that those millions of dollars could purchase that would be so much better and more beneficial than a gag gift, well… it wouldn’t be a moment at all… it’d take a lifetime to think of all of the better ways to waste your money. In the interest of time and your attention spans, I’m going to stop being vague and get right to it… the bacon-scented car freshener:
Asking price? $3.29. Chump change to most… a few easy George Washingtons to throw to the wind. But what are you really getting for $3.29? Or, more importantly, what are you losing? Let’s imagine a man, Timothy, to explore. Timothy was born with one of the most unfortunate faults one can be born with – no sense of humor. Timothy has never made anyone laugh using material he didn’t steal. His DVD collection includes, and is limited to Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, and the first two seasons of King of the Hill. Over the years, friends who entered into a relationship with Timothy hoping for a few laughs (not asking much) have since moved on. Timothy only has one friend left… Marcus, who has a difficult time keeping friends himself, mostly because he works 60 hours a week in the kitchen of a seedy little burger joint and smells of hamburger grease far more often than not.
Marcus’s birthday is coming up, and Timothy, as usual, is out of ideas. More than likely, he never had any to begin with, but let’s not speculate. Timothy decides, in a final moment of desperation just 2 days before the “big” party (it will be Timothy, Marcus, and Marcus’s parents), to head to the Amazon.com gags section. He browses for a few minutes before his mouse rests on the bacon-scented car freshener. This is the one. Barely able to contain his gut-splitting laughter as he puts in his credit card information, Timothy places his order and stakes himself out by the mailbox until it arrives. Two days and a very short, awkward party later, Timothy has lost his friend Marcus… not to sickness, violence or plague, but defriending. You see, Marcus may have trouble making friends, but he does not have trouble knowing what a good friend is, and, more importantly, what a good friend is not.
Think I’m being a little harsh? You’ve probably never received a “gag gift” before. The sheer amount of pain that comes upon you when you force yourself to smile and laugh for a few seconds after opening something like the bacon car freshener is, by itself, more than enough cause to leave wherever you are right then and there and cut off ties with your “friend” completely and for all time. Now, I love bacon, and I imagine every other meat eater on earth feels the same way. In fact, I bet it’s not uncommon to catch your vegetarian friends eating it either, coupled with a vehemently argued excuse like “I didn’t know this counted.” Bacon is great on literally anything. Its possibilities are only limited by imagination. However, there is a time and a place for bacon, and every waking moment you spend in your car driving is neither. In my experience, smelling something for hours and hours every day makes you either hate the item or place the smell belongs to or become opinion neutral to it. And I can’t imagine having any other feeling for bacon but love and admiration. I wouldn’t want to meet the man that would do that to me. And he wouldn’t want to meet me.
I know what you’re thinking… “but gag gifts like this aren’t meant to actually be used. they’re for entertainment only.” Well, the last time I had the attention span and appropriately aged mind to enjoy something like this for even ten seconds was my 3rd birthday. I think I’ve come a long way since then. It’d be nice if my gag-gifting friends had as well. Timothy, we’re only a few years away from android beings that will be able to do a pretty decent job of being friendly. Start saving up.