Losing A Tooth

Relax. Not me. None of mine are loose and I haven’t lost one since I was 10 or 11.

But my suburb is gapping up somewhat horrid.

The suburb where I keep my studio – a house I inherited – is going through re-development. Some people who have seen their children through school or their parents into aged care are selling the 60’s and 70’s houses so that the large blocks can be subdivided.  Others lose single-storey dwellings and put up massive block-fillers with two storeys. All grey slabs and modernism.

I’m always getting cards from urging real estate dealers in the studio post box promising big sales – and recently the next-door neighbour tried to offer money for a quarter of the block. The fact that his proposition would have cut off the door to the house is neither here nor there…I wasn’t selling.

Some day someone will come along with a real offer…but I don’t know quite what a real offer would be. It would be an offer that deprives me of my hobby space – that erases the memory of my parents – that makes me disappear. All attractive pieces of sadness and despair, as you can tell. I can’t wait to hit my feet with hammers…

My parents dodged the question by willing the place to me and I may be able to dodge it by doing the same for my daughter. We shall wait and see.

 

Modifying A Hoax – A Modest Proposal

The Facebook Hoax No. 135 has just surfaced again. You know, the one that tells you that you need to copy and paste something that looks like a legal document to prevent Facebook doing something. In this case it has been rigged to make you afraid that all your postings from the past -including pictures – will become the property of Facebook and that they can sell them off with no mercy.

Don’t be sad if you fell for it…people do fall for these sorts of thing. They come so close to our fears of either missing out or being targeted for lawsuit that we instinctively panic. The hoax – and hoax it is – then circulates further when the frightened individual cuts, pastes, posts, or does whatever other ritual the thing suggests. It is a good thing that the hoaxes do not involve hot soldering irons and ears or the emergency rooms would be full in a day.

Mind you, Weller would probably approve…and that’s where the BGA steps in. Note: the BGA frequently steps in it.

What we propose is that the maker of any product enter into a contract with us. ( pentacle, candles, dagger, etc. ) to promote their product. Whatever it is we analyse it and devise a way to tie it into the primitive portion of the reader’s brain. Then we craft a suitable meme or notice and start it out with our team of influenzers*. They insert it into their Facebook pages and direct it to the most gullible of their friends. From there it is transmitted for free  throughout the world, frightening people into buying and using the selected product.

It is not so much an advertising campaign as a form of social media terror. People will go faster if driven than lured and the faster they will go to the store with their wallet open, the better for the client. And remember that the BGA is ethical in this – we do not take a cut of the profits. Our fees are substantial, but one-time. In this we hold a higher moral position than the mafia.

*  So named because we spread internet hoaxes like a debilitating virus. You’re soaking in one now.

Ethical Mortar Bombing

If you put a little effort into thinking, you can make any human action or emotion ethical. If you’re prepared to dress up you can make it ethnical.

I often do this when I want to drive my enemies before me and hear the lamentations of their women. I’ll qualify that – I don’t actually enjoy hearing women lamenting. They do it with a professional vigour that I find wearing. In a lot of cases I let the women drive themselves and me and the enemies just sit around drinking.

Your ethics are what define you – and I have met any number of people who defy definition. Just as you think you know what they think, they read another Facebook post and go off on a tangent. Then you either follow them, at the risk of seeming to agree with them, or oppose them, at the risk of being right. Both pathways are fraught with dishonour.

I have endeavoured for years to free myself from ethical thinking or behaviour. Rather than take a hard stand on any moral issue I have waited in the wings until the debate was finished and the winner declared before declaring my support for them. Even then I have reserved some disclaimers in case they fall out of favour. It was a little hard to wriggle out of Watergate but I managed in the end when Carter took office. You could get out of anything with Jimmy Carter at the helm.

Am I firmly committed to the path of righteousness and truth right now? In as far as the keepers of that path are prepared to play me, I am. I do not demand money; sex, drugs and rock and roll are acceptable substitutes. I can also be bought for scale model plastic kits.

Ask me later and I’ll give you a list of the ones I haven’t got.

 

The Trolling Net

I check my net every week to see if I have caught my troll. Some weeks are disappointing but some are a bonanza if he snaps at the bait. I’ve gotten three bites a week in the high season.

You generally hear only bad things about trolls, but that is if they are only popping up on social media and writing irksome things to upset people. Of course that is what they always do, but you can convert the energy they put into nastiness to your own purposes.

Mine is advertising for a shop. I write three weekly columns for it with news of the goods and services that they sell. I get to put in humour as well and the occasional flight of fancy.

[Aside} Never stand under a Fancy when they are flying, particularly if they have had a greasy meal. You’ll never get the stains out.

Well, my troll reads the columns religiously – possibly between human sacrifice days. He erupts in a comment whenever some particular statement attracts his combative nature. The comment can come back as a return to the dashboard – which is an internal thing and not so useful – or it can be splashed on the Facebook page that repeats the column. That’s pay dirt.

You see, I get to see the figures for the readership hits on the main column and they spike whenever Trolly bleats. More people read the column, looking for the controversy, and more people then go on to browse the rest of the store’s website. This is a store that wants on-line trade and every time someone wanders down their electronic aisle it’s money in the bank.

I must confess, I have written a few columns in such a way as to provoke Trolly for just this purpose. Not many, but every so often…

He may be a nasty piece of work at home – I don’t know. He may be a sweetie, and the social star of his street. I just hope for his continued good health and bad digestion – he is the best straight man I have, troll or not.

Re Tales – Part Eight – Essential Or Luxury?

Which to sell – essential goods or luxury ones?

Aye, there’s the rub – and it’s either with a velvet glove or a bastard file. You choose which division of commerce you think will be likeliest to pay and go with that. If you are right you  rake in the cash and if you are wrong you rake leaves in the park.

Essential items are food, water, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, and security. Thus we see sellers of prepackaged truffles, designer water, silk underwear, bespoke serviced appartments, day facelift spas, and bouncers doing very well indeed.

Luxury items are every blessed thing else. And not every venture selling these succeeds. However, when they do take off – the camera shop or the hobby shop come to mind – the sky is the limit. People will stint themselves of luxuries to buy essentials but that is called skimping and saving pennies – when it is the other way it works with hundreds and thousand of dollars. The trick of retailing is to be where the money ends up – not where it starts.

Re Tales – Part Seven – The Sale

Every shop has a sale some time. Not the regular sales over the counter of everyday commerce – a SALE that involves vast quantities – of many different things:

a. Time. Even a small impromptu sale that the owner thinks up the last minute before going on holiday involves days and hours of preparation, conduct, and accounting. Fortunately they are on holiday and have left their phone at home. The staff will cope…

b. Advertising. No good trying to get more customers in the door if they do not know where the door is or why they might want to come in. So the retailer spends money with the newspapers, phone book company, on-line IT experts ( the ones that are out of the asylum that week ) and leaflet distributors. The richer retailers use radio and television to blow the trumpet – the more frugal ones just buy trumpets and blow them themselves. 3:00 AM in the car park of the shopping centre is a trying time…

c. Preparation. Re-tagging all the sale stock is a pain. Particularly if you need to re-re-tag it after it hasn’t sold. And you need to be accurate in your pricing. ” Whatever ” is not a price tag that will make a profit for the shop.

Beware of customers who shift full-price stock into the sales bins and then magically ” find ” it and rush to the till. They will then demand to have it for an imaginary price, quoting God and Magna Carta as justification. It is best to have a short club handy.

d. Staff. No-one can stand sales pressure on their own so the wise manager will arrange for extra staff to be present. They may be rostered in on a schedule or just thrown in willy-nilly as the fatalities occur. Warn them that normal meal, break and toilet amenities are suspended for the sale period – if necessary quote Magna Carta. With a bit of luck this regime will seem natural and can be extended to the rest of the year.

e. Old unsalable stock. This is the core of the sale – after all, if it all went out regularly, there would be no need for all the other extra work. Old unsalable stock may be perfectly good, but so far no-one outside of the store’s buyer and the wholesaler have ever thought so. Now is the time to convince others by lowering the price.

Make no mistake about it. People will spend money and buy anything if they think it is a screaming bargain. Discount death and give vouchers for subsequent deaths and people will line up to pay. This is the principle of a great many school holiday motion picture series.

If you have no junk to sell, contact the wholesalers and ask them to take you out to a long lunch and get you drunk. You’ll eventually wake up with loose clothing and a warehouse full of broken cartons of stock from 2003.

f. Accountancy. No matter what you get for the schmatta, you’ll still have to do the paperwork to write it off. A successful sale pays for the accountant’s time – really successful ones are where you trade old stock to the accountant instead of a fee.

Re Tales – Part Six – ” My Brother-In-Law “

If you have ever wondered where in the land the power of final arbitration resides – Supreme Court – High Court – Sanhedrin – Wherever – we can now enlighten you. It has nothing to do with legal bodies, scientific organisations, or social groups. The person upon whose left hand God sits is The Brother-In-Law.

Retailers have known this for years – as their customers attempt to justify anything they do by reference to The Brother-In-Law. ( Note: some fundamental religions prohibit the mention of the name. In deference to them we will use the code word TBIL. )

Whenever an item is to be demanded or a price to be gouged, TBIL is mentioned. He has done it all, seen it all, or possessed it all before…and done so at a far better price than the shop is asking. He was in last week, next week, and may be lurking behind the loo door now – the final authority upon any commercial transaction.

You don’t have what the customer wants? Why, TBIL got it just last week. It costs $ 10.00? Why TBIL got it for $ 5.00 and a free coffee. And so on.

If the customer is single or has no living family ( they all committed seppuku to avoid being invited to a family party ) there is still hope. TBIL’s International are prepared to lease a BIL for commercial purposes at a nominal fee. Or a TBIL can be accessed on-line and the resultant haggling tirade passed to the retail employee on a mobile phone.

The retailer need not feel distressed about this – after all many of them have TBIL’s of their own that can be deployed to neutralise the effect of the attack. It’s not nice to watch but you have to fight fire with fire.

Re Tales – Part Five – ” We Want You To …”

a. Sponsor our club.

We want you to give us things for free. If you do we’ll say we like you and might buy things from you. If you don’t we won’t like you and  might still buy things from you – but we’ll complain about the prices.

Actually, we’ll do that even if you do sponsor us.

b. Buy our product.

Every shop needs what we have to sell. That is why we go to every shop and try to sell it to them. We’ve already been to see all your competitors and filled their shelves, but we still have some broken boxes of stock to get rid of before we close the warehouse.

Ah, did I say close? I meant move to bigger premises. Where? Somewhere…anywhere…

Of course the goods are good sellers. We managed to sell them to everyone else already. Why should you be suspicious?

c. Subscribe to our service.

Our service provides you with a plan. This will explain the program and the opportunity to become part of a concept. You get in on the ground floor. Everyone is doing it, and we will all be rich. All you need is faith and the ability to enjoy the wonderful benefits of the planned concept program. I own a BMW and I take vacations to exotic places every year, so it must be all okay.

Well, not exactly this year…unless you regard Bunbury as exotic. It can be exotic, if you go while the pubs are still open.

d. Join our movement.

Did I say movement? I meant Party. No. I meant Crusade. Oops. No – no, I didn’t. Our collective. Still not right? Church? Temple? Mosque? Schul?

Anything? Nothing? Can I sell you some cookies to support our good works? I’m tired of eating them myself.

Re Tales – Part Four – ” You Had It Last Week “

We did? Let’s look up the computer record. Yes, we did have it. It had been in our shop for three years and someone bought it just at the end of the week.

” Well I want it. I looked at for years and I want it now. ”

Ah. That may be a problem. The maker of that product discontinued it two years ago. The one you saw on our shelves was the last anyone could get – and it remained unsold for three years as they had introduced the next model.

We do have the next model here on the shelf now. Would you like to inspect it?

” No. I saw the old one last week. I want the old one. ”

But if you saw it last week, my dear fellow, why didn’t you buy it then? It was the last one that anyone could get of that model…

” I didn’t want it last week. I want it now. When are you going to get another? I need it for tomorrow. ”

But they do not make that model any more. They make this one. It is here, now. We cannot get any more of the old one.

” I want to speak to the Manager. I want to speak to the Owner. I want to speak to the God Of Retailing.  This is illegal…I’ve got my rights!…Magna Carta… ”

My Dear Fellow, I am the manager…and the owner…I make no other claims…What more can I – we – possibly do if the old one doesn’t exist any more?

” Sell me the new one at the old price. And I get a discount, too. Because I’m a valuable customer. And now I know the owner…”

 

Re Tales – Part Three – ” I Saw It On A Website. “

In the good old days ( Elvis, dinosaurs) the potential customer would have come in and said ” I saw it in the newspaper. ” or ” I saw it in a magazine. “. Occasionally the special ones fronted the counter and said ” I saw it written in letters of fire in the sky. “. It paid to not doubt them.

Now it is  ” I saw it on the internet. ” What they saw may have been an announcement of a new product or the discontinuation of an old one. Or a recall of exploding bed socks. Whatever, they’ve come into the shop with knowledge of something. The knowledge is valuable to them and it might be so for the shop assistant as well.

If the thing they saw was on the website of the shop where they are, the shop assistant can pray silently that the website had the correct price, image, and stock level for the goods. And that the thing that was shown is still somewhere on the premises.  Even if it is holding the loo door open, at least it exists. Unfortunately there is a gap between what the best IT department can show and what can be plonked on the counter.

If the thing they saw was on another shop’s site all hell could break loose – particularly if the ” shop ” is some vague web address in Kowloon. The customer has taken the internet information as the word of God and any attempt on the part of the shop assistant to explain that it is unrealistic here in Australia will fall on deaf ears.

Unfortunately deaf ears are sometimes attached to loud mouths and angry tempers. These are fine, as long as they can be confined within the head of the customer. Like road rage, let someone else experience it.

No shop assistant is required by any law – of God, the land, economics, or thermodynamics – to match any price that is waved at them from a mobile phone screen. That may or may not be a real offer from a real seller, but it is not a seller who is paying rent on the premises, wages to the staff, or buying paper for the shop loo. The shop price should be fair and calculated to give adequate return to the proprietor for the effort of business – it is most often just that, and any attempt to oyster-knife discounts based on a badly-spelled website can best be referred back to Kowloon.

Or Wuhan.