Table of Contents
Part I: Symptoms
Part Two: History
Part III: Treatment
Chapter 1 : Shopping Fever
Gotta listen to me honey
Gotta get all your money
Gotta know just where I stand
If you want to be my date
Well you better get it straight
I'm a big time shopping man.. . . .
Baby come on, there's a whole lotta shoppin' going on.. . . .
Get that money out of your savings account
There's a whole lotta shoppin' going on. . . .
folksinger Alan Atkisson
It's Thanksgiving Day and eight-year-old Jason Jones has just finished stuffing himself with turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie a la mode. He sits at his PC, frantically typing a list of presents he hopes to receive from Santa Claus for Christmas. He plans to deliver the list to Santa the next day, opening day of the Christmas shopping season, and, incidentally, of affluenza season. Jason's list contains ten items, including a trip to Disney World, a mountain bike, a cell phone, a DVD player, and several compact disks.
Jason is no dummy; he doesn't really believe in Santa Claus, but he knows his parents usually give him what he asks Santa for, so he gets up bright and early on Friday to play the game. Jason and his mother, Janet, set out in their Lincoln Navigator and, half an hour later, arrive at the All-Star Bazaar, where thousands of people are already fighting for the remaining parking spots nearest the entrance.
The mall is jam-packed with frantic holiday shoppers, unwitting and at-risk in an affluenza hot zone, armed only with credit cards and checkbooks. In one store, a crowd gathers to watch two parents duke it out over the last remaining Dino-Man, the latest hot kids' toy, a doll with the body of a weightlifter and the head of a Tyrannosaurus (and selling faster than Beanie Babies). In a corner, a mother sobs, knowing she got there too late to get a Dino-Man for her son. "I knew I should have camped out here last night," she wails. Other customers, already exhausted, sit on benches by the bottom of an escalator, beside mountains of merchandise, looking both tense and bored.
It takes Jason nearly an hour to get through the line to Santa's lap and deliver his list. His mom leaves him in the video arcade with a roll of quarters while she makes the rounds of the dozens of shops in the mall. Hours later, on the way home, they stop at Blockbuster's to rent a couple of movies so Jason won't complain of boredom that night. Though the day is sunny and warm, unusually so for late fall, even the park in Jason's upper-middle class subdivision is devoid of kids. There are plenty of children in this neighborhood of young professionals. But if they're not shopping, they're indoors communing with Nintendo Play Stations or The Cartoon Network. It's a tough choice for Jason, but he's tired of the games he has so he turns on the TV.
From Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, by John De Graaf, et al. © June 9, 2001, Berrett-Koehler used by permission.
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