Ms Mega Consumer

About a year ago now, something happened to me which shook my reality a bit, although hundreds of others also experienced this small event, for me it had a profound meaning that I will now share with you all here.

During the middle of my work week, just after lunch, I ran out of shipping envelopes, so I headed down to the local wholesaler to pick up a cool thousand 10″x14″ envelopes. Due to the distance between where I parked and the wholesaler, it was fastest and easiest for me to cut through a local shopping mall. From past experience I knew the thousand envelopes were going to weight quite a bit, so I decided that on the way back I would stop for a coffee in the mall.
Mall View
I picked up the envelopes, and carried them back to the mall’s third floor coffee shop, my muscles we’re getting tired, so when I found an empty coffee shop table next to the third floor railing of the mall’s courtyard, I dumped my envelopes in one of the chairs, went to ordered my coffee, then returned to my table to drink it.

The coffee was nice, and so was the view of the busy mall. This mall is always extremely busy, and getting more so by the day. It was a suburban mall once, but the city has grown so much over the last decade or so, the surrounding roads which were once full of houses are now full of condominiums. The population density in the area has more than doubled over the last few years, as has the population of the mall.

I people watched as I slowly drank my coffee, there were lots of people all over the place, many had a bag or so in their arms. There were people on laptops in the coffee shop, some with friends, some that looked to be on dates, and then there was this one table that I couldn’t quite figure out. Sitting at this table there was what seemed to be a very well off lady, drinking her coffee, she was just beyond middle age, well made up, with a designer haircut, about 5 ft 5 inches tall, and 180 pounds. The lady was very nicely dressed in what I would assume to all be all new designer clothing, she wore a blue floral dress, designer shoes, lots of jewelry, and polished leather high heals. She seemed very relaxed, I would guess she was wealthy enough she didn’t need to work, this was mid day after all. The man who sat with her did not have a drink of his own and was not dressed so extravagantly, from the look of him, I assumed he was probably living on an income below the poverty line, his clothing looked plain, old, but looked clean and ironed, he had no jewelry that I could see. He was about 5 ft 8 inches tall, thin, in his early 30s, and fit. They did not look at each other or talk. The couple finished just moments before I did, so my thousand envelopes and I ended up following them out of the coffee shop.
Too-many-bags
Other than the physical differences between the two, I saw some other very obvious clues as to who they might be. While the lady was obviously leading the man, as she carried what seemed to be a very expensive designer purse. The man was following and carrying about fifteen designer brand name shopping bags, fanning out from his hips, which I would assume had just been purchased. I reasoned this man was an employee of the woman, brought with her on these shopping trips possibly as a driver, and then due to the fact that the woman bought more clothing that it looked like she could carry, he was her porter as well. The way this all played out, this looks like a common event for the two. It is possible that this woman never wore the same clothing twice, and maybe did not even wore some items once.

This particular mall had five stories to it, and conveniently at the front of the mall, there were four floors of escalators all facing the same direction with about a 20 ft gap between the top of one escalator, and the bottom of another. The up escalators lined up with the next up escalators, and the down with the down. Due to the efficiency of this design, not to mention the huge population of the shopping mall, I could not imagine just how many thousands of people that this row of escalators moved during a normal day, however at this there were at least 200 people using them, as well as another hundred or so queued on the islands between the escalators.

Just as this lady and guy reached the extremely busy center of the third floor island between escalators, something happened, this lady just figured out that she didn’t know where she wanted to go next. So she stopped, as did her servant. This was of course an immediate problem for the hundreds of people who were being pushed onto the already full escalator island by the up and down escalators. A lone person would have caused some inconvenience in such a place, but this wide girthed lady together with her servant and the 15 bags of clothing, were taking up the space of about five or so people.

A human traffic jam began almost immediately, things like this happen from time to time, so I expected the woman would figure out what was happening, and leave the busy area to let others past, but she seemed completely unaware of what was going on around her. As she put her finger to her lip for some harder thinking about what to do next, the man with the bags was looking around a bit worried at all the trouble they were causing, he looked to the lady, which he stood behind, but did not say anything to her, he seemed to be uncomfortable at the thought informing her. People tried to force themselves by, but the population of the island was growing fast. After a few more seconds, I became scared, I was afraid that the continuous push of the escalator machinery of people both up and down from this spot was soon going to crush, injure and kill many people. I had a pain in my stomach about this possibility, and it seemed the man with the bags was concerned about this as well, I could see from his quick glances around that he was fully aware of what was going on, but his master was not, she stood there a while longer, it was getting very bad on the island, very dangerous, then she took her finger down from her lip, and walked back the was she came, not taking the escalator after all.
Shopping mall escalator
I stood out of the way for a bit while the crowd died down, then took the escalator down to where I would get in my car.

As I was driving home I kept thinking about the incident, it had caused quite a bit of stress to me at the time, and it went over and over in my head…. you see what really bothered me about this situation, other than the possible horror this woman had almost caused with her slow thinking and ignorance to the other people in the mall, was that this shopaholic, slow thinking, ignorant woman was the boss to the man who carried her bags. She was the one that had the money, she was the one that was calling the shots here, yet the man who served her was obviously of hard worker of higher intelligence.

If this was truly a modern darwinistic world where the hard working and intelligent people were supposed to rise to the top, it would seemed far more logical that she should be following him, not the other way around.

How exactly did this lady have so much money, and therefore so much power over others?

I thought later of all the things she had just bought, all the people that needed to serve her in the stores, all the cotton farming, the picking, sewing, and delivery needed., The petroleum used for her bags has likely been fought over in wars causing people to lose their lives, not to mention the environmental destruction which goes along with it, the raw oil gets shipped and refined, processed and shipped again etc, the things she had bought had taken up enormous amounts of manpower, and were constructed from raw materials that came from all over the world. Yet she might only wear it once ? If that.

I can hear the average news watching economists saying “But, But, she creates jobs!”. However, she doesn’t really create jobs, what she creates is work, tons of it, and she creates environmental damage, and in this instance she created trouble. Maybe if someone wasn’t slaving away in the factory for her, they could be doing something better for someone else.

How much of humanities manpower is spent on this woman and people like her? How much work do we all need to do to support shopaholics? How much work does she do for society? From the looks of her, I would guess she takes countless millions of manpower work in her life, and probably gives zero in return.

The strangest part of this coming from me, a retailer, is that she would be my ideal customer, as much as I did not want her in front of me at the mall, people like her are what I need for my business survive. In fact I was out buying envelopes to serve consumers just like her in the first place. My lifestyle depends on shoppers and improves with over shoppers.

But how come she was in charge? How come all these hard working human beings need to serve her?

Does that seem right to you?

I hope one day soon, all the world’s shopaholics might find something better to do with their time, then all the poor workers who served them can take a well deserved break.

Please Keep Your Freedumb Away From My Freedom

I am just days away from a two week holiday to my hometown of Vancouver Canada, it is always nice to see the west coast of Canada in the spring, often during this time of year the trees will blossom, adding some incredible colors to the already beautiful scenery, and a sweet scent to the cool fresh air. I am also of course very much looking forward to seeing my family and friends, who are the reason for the trip.

After making some plans to visit friends, a discussion about me started amongst my various acquaintances back home, and eventually, some of this discussion came back to me though hearsay. Apparently not all of my friends think I am doing very well in life, and by their measurement, which is salary, I guess I am not, but I do not measure my life in salary, if I did I would have kept some of the high paying jobs I had in the past, or taken some that were offered to me along the way, but I did not, because instead of salary, I measure my life in how much free time I get to experience, free time I often spend with my son, or traveling, reading, and writing.

Consumer PrisionerInevitably during my trip back to Canada as I visit with the few friends that can find enough time off work to see me, they may give me advice, as they often have before, about how I should change my life to be more like theirs, forgetting that I had lived that way for too many years already, with the waking up to an alarm, rushing to work, wearing a shirt, tie and black socks, eating when I’m told to, and then rushing back home at the end of the day. Many just can’t seem to understand that even though I hardly make any money at all by writing, programming, and selling shirts on the internet for a living, it is exactly the type of life I hope to live forever. To me what I have is something closer to true freedom, than the common illusion of it, which is humorously defined on the web today as freedumb.

As they suggest I dust off my work clothing, which I assume still exists somewhere in my closet, to get a “real job”, and make some real money, I will likely just nod politely, and think to myself, “Please keep your freedumb away from my freedom.”

Below are three videos, with a combined total of only seven minutes, they are all great clips, that I feel relate perfectly to normal corporate life and real freedom.

Enjoy!

What Should I Sell On The Internet?

As most of you know, I sell products on the internet to make a living these days, recently a friend of mine also expressed an interest in starting a similar type of business, so he asked me what I though he should sell to make some money. I gave him a few suggestions and explanations for my reasoning which I have put for you below.

I sell t-shirts, but I would not recommend this to others, had I understood the amount of stock I would need on hand and the work I would have to do to sell a few shirts for such low profit, I probably would not have quit my day job.

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91% Failure!
Click To Enlarge

What I recommend is that if you are going to sell stuff on the internet, and going to build up a new website from scratch as I did, due to a lack of visitors, you will find yourself lucky to make a single sale each day for the first year or so, therefore it is best to sell items that will not become quickly outdated. If you sell products you need to move quickly through, such as electronics, which become outdated, devalue quickly and have a low profit margin even at the best of times, you will soon find yourself stuck with a lot of stock that nobody will buy from you at a profit, also you will need to be updating the website faster than you can probably work alone and will need to hire a team of expensive professionals just to keep up.

Apache Helicopter

Sell Used Helicopters

I believe you should sell the most expensive items you can afford to, the reason for this is you have the opportunity to make the most profit per item purchased, or package sent. For example, I remember one time last year where I needed to get someone a particular color and size of shirt that we had run out of stock on, due to a high number of unexpected complications, it must have taken me about nine hours of my time to fill the order, this is not normal, but it does happen, and for my nine hours of hard work, I only received about seven dollars profit, if you compare this to people who sell helicopters online, yes you can buy helicopters online, who make a few hundred thousand for the same amount of time, you can see that my shirt business is not necessarily the worlds best idea, but it was all I could afford to start with.

If you are really low on cash, and have even less then what I started out with, which was approximately fifty thousand American Dollars, you can try some drop shipping companies. If you put “drop shipping companies” into a search engine, you will find all sorts of companies that hold all the stock for you to sell, and you can simply buy one item at a time from them, after your customers have already paid you, and then get them to send directly to your customers. This is a great alternative to holding stock, but I gave up on drop shipping in the first year myself, due to my lack of traffic, by the time I actually sold stuff, they were already out of stock on the items.

The biggest problem for any web based business will always be getting enough traffic to stay afloat, too many people subscribe to the “If I build it they will come” philosophy, which is probably a good reason why nearly one hundred percent of all web start ups fail. You really would not believe the competition out there that you have to deal with, you really have to be the best of the best to survive these days.

After four years of sixty hour weeks, and being fortunate enough to have most of the best shirts in the world available for me to sell, I am now almost making the same as what I used to make at one of the crappier day jobs I quit a decade ago, so you have to be seriously committed to do what I am doing. I heard someone say recently that to create a successful commercial website in today’s market you needed to have blind ignorant faith equaling that of many religions.

The Author Made Some Money

There is a constant push on the internet and in the news about how starting a web based business is a good idea, but statistics prove otherwise, it is a bad idea, in fact the only people that seem to really be making any money online are those that create websites for hopeful “entrepreneurs” or offer paid services to market their businesses for them. This reminds me of how a long time ago in the Klondike gold rush, the people who sold the miners supplies made much more money than the miners themselves. These are the people telling you it is a good idea, don’t listen to them too much, I would suggest never listening to anyone that is trying to get money from you.

If you still want to start an online business, you may as well get started, it doesn’t matter if it succeeds or not as long as you don’t invest too much into it. I started three websites before the one I have now, never made a penny off them, but this one does pay the bills. You should not think of the internet as a great place to get rich quick, these days the best you can hope for a chance to get rich eventually.

Trash Man Has Had Enough

Working can be stressful, and who among us hasn’t just wanted to let go and smash something sometimes?

Check out this garbage guy’s reaction to something being stuck in the trash can.

Enjoy!

The Secret To Being Wealthy

I had a bit of a strange conversation the other day with a friend of mine,  I had just informed her that the business has finally begun to pay the bills, and I guess she got a little excited thinking great wealth might follow.  Though we are finally turning a profit, it has cost a large amount of money to get it to the point it is now, so for this venture to actually become a positive one, the company still needs to put all the startup money back in the bank, with interest, and that could take several years.

It was not so much the context of the question, but the wording, she asked me “Do you think you are going to be rich?”

I was a bit stunned by the question and looked around at my rented house with the multiple air conditioners, large HD television, stereo system, full fridge, computers, laptops and comfortable furniture. We had just returned from a one week vacation on a tropical beach, and I am about to fly off to another country only two weeks later, we eat out two meals a day and see a movie in the cinema every week. The only reply I could think of was “I thought I was rich already.”

Financial Freedom SignAssuming the company can continue to turn a profit, I will be able to continue this lifestyle indefinitely, and even if the website stopped working for some reason, I still have enough money to continue to live this lifestyle for probably another decade or so.

In reality my comfortable couch only cost me $100, my delicious healthy meals out are almost always less than five dollars, and my one week vacation only cost about $180, even though I make more, I normally live on less than a thousand US dollars a month. I wonder, does being rich really need to have a monetary value?

It is my opinion that rich is a feeling. I have everything that is truly important to me, comfort, security, love, and freedom. I don’t own a car, but living where I do, I currently don’t need one. If I did need one, I would have to have one to feel rich I guess, but since I don’t need car, having one doesn’t matter, what type of car would be irrelevant, because vanity is not really one of my needs.

I have found from experience that most people with millions of dollars in things, often do not feel rich, they are constantly driven to get more and will never be satisfied with what they have. They could lose it all in a few months without work, they know this, and can not relax. I agree with their feeling, in my books, they are poor, but it’s because of their mindset, not their paycheck. If you really want to be rich, you need to live on about halve of what you make each month, then the other halve goes in the bank, and you just bought yourself a month of freedom. After you have a few hundred of those months in the bank, you will also feel wealthy.

I replied to her question, “Look I don’t know what rich is in your head, but I am comfortable, have many vacations and my belly is always full, I do not have any worries about where my next meal is going to come from, or my next thousand meals. In my opinion, The only way to be rich is to be satisfied with what you have.”

I don’t know if I expressed my point properly to her, when she sees a big shiny new car, she probably still wishes she could ride around inside it, and I would like it also, but not at the expense of losing my freedom, and feeling poor once again.

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