…Rebates and big cola


As usual, like on many nights of the week, I’m at the kitchen sink doing the dinner dishes and mentally flogging myself simultaneously by watching the evening news as I scrub. Watching the news in and of itself is not a bad thing other than it has so very little to offer in the way of hope and solace for this bedraggled planet, but one’s gotta know what’s going on in order to gain the proper perspective and be able to conduct their life accordingly. I sometimes try to talk over the particularly lurid segments of the news so that my children won’t hear them because they are young and shouldn’t be needlessly exposed to such vocabular realities that ironically are going to come their way in time anyway... but, hopefully not at their current tender ages. But this ain’t about the news. This is about the twisted sense of fuzzy math interwoven into some of the nation’s car commercials and a widening gap in the surreality sphere.

As I’m watching, a car commercial comes on (well, a lot of car commercials come on...it seems to me that car commercials drive the local evening news nowadays, where drugs for cholesterol, arthritis, impotence and depression drive the national news). Nonetheless, the high selling point of this particular commercial tells me that this certain car can be obtained with a $7,000 dollar rebate. A Seven Thousand dollar rebate!

This isn’t any particularly high-falutin’ kinda car really, although I think they think they would like you and I to think it was. The picture of it clearly shows it has 4 tires, a steering wheel, and some upholstry...most of the same stuff my car has. But this car has a seven thousand dollar rebate. This clearly tells me that the manufacturers never needed this seven thousand dollars and that is why they can afford to rebate it. Now this, in turn, tells me that everyone who bought one of these vehicles before the commercial is a sap for having coughed up that seven grand. As an aside, I paid $8,080 for the two vehicles in my driveway and that’s without rebates. One additional automotive input: If I ever go into a showroom like the happy-go-effervescent hustly-bustly one’s they show on the commercials I will know that I have died and gone to Hell on a hot day in a unairconditioned Hugo. Were do they get these zany crazy people to portray car salespeople? No self respecting car salesperson in their right mind would want to be shown to be as transparent as these Car Barbies/Barbos.

The customers portrayed in these commercials are none the better. Hmmmm, now that I give it some afterthought ...if people are as brain flambéd as these jamoaks, well then, maybe they deserve to be stiffed that aforementioned seven thou. Not too long ago, I’m about to get back into one of my much less than $7000 dollar, rebate-free vehicles after seeing a surprisingly good flick (one of those rare non-formula treats that you run into every once in a while), when I spy on the ground a soft-drink cup so big that it has no simile. It is humungus. Who drank from this vessel I had to rhetorically wonder out load to my children? I know we’re a nation of consumers, but have we no limits and no shame? This warship would be embarrassing to be seen with...it screamed with an unimaginable gluttony. I’m guessing, when full it supplied the supplicant with well over 800 of those hollow type sugar calories every one condemns so highly...forty percent of a day’s worth of calories just from a drink at a theater. Then you throw in a trough of bottomless popcorn... yikes. I’m starting to smell rigor mortis. This literal soda drum was nine and one half inches tall. I almost took some more measurements to forward to the Bureau of Weights and Measures in D.C. to see if they could perhaps do some sort of capacity work-up on it. Imagine the stress you could put on your back trying to carry one of these tubs, full of soda, from the concession stand to your seat... and, it has no handle. I can only guess what it must have cost to buy. And m’gawd, if it ever spilled! Where are you supposed to put this container after you’ve drained this lake from it?

It has been in my house for about three weeks now and I can’t, in clear conscience, just chuck it. I somehow feel responsible for this thing. Maybe I should never have picked it up. Maybe I should have left it to the powers of those who police the theater parking lot for trash, but some part of my conscience compelled me to latch onto it. My wife and I had a serious discussion about it yesterday. We talked about some possible secondary uses for it. We thought about using it as a paint bucket, but its shape doesn’t guarantee great stability although it would hold lots of paint. We thought maybe I could turn it into a work of art and try to give it back to the company whose logo was on it. A planter? A wastebasket? If we burn it in the fireplace when we have a fire going, it would only pollute the atmosphere some more. I’d leave it out in the weather to gradually break down, but I don’t think that it ever would.

We’re about to give away a sandbox that my children have outgrown...maybe we could slip it into that deal and pass it off as a sand toy. I wish it had the proper recycling symbol on the bottom so we could perhaps be assured it would get some addition usage in some form, but it doesn’t. It has really turned into some sort of moral dilemma and I get to wondering about the other millions of vessels of the same ilk that have been manufactured and where they are now? Sometimes, I wish I didn’t think like this.

J. Jules Vitali is a sculptor, columnist, moral philosopher and poet who resides in Freeport, Maine. He is the creator of the art form, Styrogami(r) which can be seen on the web at www.His work can be seen at the Northport Landing Gallery in Northport, Maine. He is also an Artist in Cellophane (www.artomat.org).