Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Forays into US Culture: Relax in a Hurry

[The second in the new series: "Forays into US Culture".]

Love 'em or hate 'em, many of us wander and wait or hurry and dash through 'em at some point in our busy lives.
My most recent airport experience was of the wander and wait variety.
I ate lunch: 2 hard shell tacos with beef, refried beans and rice ($13.99 plus tax; at my favorite local taqueria a more flavorful version of the dish costs $4.99); and an "original" margarita ($9.99 plus tax).
Then, since it had been something of a difficult and emotionally draining trip, I enjoyed a second margarita as I talked to a friend on my phone.
After that, recognizing feelings of sadness, alienation, and emotional desperation bubbling just 'below the surface' and manifesting as resistance to cultural conformity, I trundled down the bustling corridors pulling my computer bag and applying a particularly critical lens to judge ' the airport context': "They" were obese, self-satisfied, had too much 'discretionary income/outgo' and not enough cultural and ethnic diversity; the inoffensive color, texture, aroma, and blandness of the surroundings were geared to keep folks moving, stopping only to spend, eat, and excrete.... I obsessed and projected my dissatisfaction into a catch-all "the state of the world"...and almost walked right into a target ripe for a blistering cultural critique, the...

Four-up! An anti-masseuse masseuse that avoids the human touch that is an integral part of massage. These chairs wiggle and jiggle and thrump and thump - just put in coins or card and own and control the entire experience. The massagee doesn't even have to talk or listen to an actual real live masseuse.
The public face of the money maker/money taker.
Slip in your card...

...or slip in your cash...
Smartecarte will
jiggle 'ya...
tickle 'ya...
and make 'ya feel ...
[All photos: Susan Galleymore]

Since I was traveling solo...and too margarita'd up to want to snap a 'selfie' -- or ask an anonymous passer-by to snap me -- as I lolled in one of the Massage Center's four chairs, I continued sipping my second 'original' margarita and contemplated the paraphernalia. 
Really, though, I hung around to people watch 'n provoke, curious about who might either 1) ask me to vacate my chair since, clearly, I was not partaking of a $5.00 wiggle, jiggle, or tickle or 2) treat themselves - or significant others - to wiggles, jiggles, and tickles.
Despite 35 years living in America and struggling against its No. 1 Cultural Imperative -- "getting and spending" -- my naivete is, apparently, still such that I was sure even 'reg'lar' Americans would see through the wallet pillage and 'stupid public' attitude inherent in Relax in a Hurry.  But, no; while no line of stressed travelers actually formed, the three unoccupied chairs were quickly filled with paying 'n partaking massagees!
The man in the chair next to me inserted real cash - several times; the couple behind inserted the man's credit card and indulged in two faux massage sessions each!
It took an effort to keep visual tabs on the couple behind me without drawing attention so I opted for curious nonchalance and glanced over at the fellow next to me. Eyes closed, his body wiggled and jiggled as a mechanical wave rippled just under the surface of his chair. (I realized that I'd recently undergone a similar though unasked-for 'treat' at an overpriced hair salon: asynchronous bobbles poke and prod and wave and wander with mechanical vehemence until the off  button pops "off" - then ... everything stops...your treat is over until popped "on" with more money.) He was enjoying himself and his massage - albeit in a hurry; he was enjoying himself more than I was enjoying myself fretting about 'the state of the world.'
Yes, but....

Ritter Sport chocolate costs $1.99 at Trader Joe's; at the airport it costs $4.99.
Toblerone chocolate costs $1.99 at Trader Joe's; at the airport it costs $4.99.
When I laughingly commented on the inflated costs of chocolates at an airport - a sprawling entity that specializes in transporting goods and people - a nearby man explained, "the airport must make its profit."
Well, why must the airport make its profit? Why can't it be satisfied with breaking even and keeping things proportioned for reg'lar human beings: decent and fair salaries across the board, health insurance to all workers, ergonomic seating for long trips, and so on?
And why must something that gives humans the wrong impression about what it means to be human - Relax in a Hurry - make a profit?
Why is "profit" America's True God?
I repeat that trite and overused aphorism: hey, it is what it is.
Know what? Aphorism's don't cut it.
Profit might be what profit is but that doesn't make profit conducive to human good health and vitality.

By the way, in general, I am uninterested in developing my innate entrepreneurial profit-generating skills but, having discovered just how fast profit-seeking entrepreneurs steal ideas, take heed: I already patented the great profit-making idea I'm about to share; pay me Yankee dollahs and you can implement my great idea and tell friends you dreamed it up. Here it is: create teams of real live masseuses and masseurs, force each to purchase a branded massage chair from you - at a good markup, then send the teams into airports across the country to provide massage services to a deserving public; you take 70 percentage of their take - after all, you came up with the idea and the hard work. It's a great idea - as George Zimmer of the Men's Warehouse would say, "I guarantee it!"
ha ha!
Foray into UC Culture: Rush on Robin
Foray into US Culture: Hillary Clinton, "It Takes a Pillage to Raze a Child..."
Forays into US Culture: Relax in a Hurry
Forays into US Culture: Downloadable Books...and Other Dystopias
Foray into US Culture: Manicured Faux

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