Face it: you are bored. So am I.
Bored with the home cooked meals, the dishwashing, the hand washing, the clothes washing, the tepid exercise routine, the meetings and non-meetings, bored with the sweatpants, the coffee pot, the comfy shoes. Bored with Netflix, Hulu and paid-per-view. Bored, bored, bored with the mushy, spoon-feeding of marketing algorithms.
Those algorithms… They spread like mildew on a wet wall. Misplaced, insistent, contagious.
Here is the daily email from Bookbub with its offer of a $1.99 cookbook because I clicked on a link just that one time. Here are the urgent enticements to purchase high-waisted jeans and generic grey tee shirts from The Gap. Here is the unfortunate stream of pimple-popping Youtube videos - the high price to pay for my short-term voyeurism. And to top it all, there is Instagram’s inexplicable feed of snow-covered Alpine villages video - after I googled the spelling of "dirndl".
The algorithms breed and feed like a band of cockroaches on a doughnut. Books, food, travel routes, bedding, clothing, movies, jobs, friends, love, child play, meditation: nothing escapes their little jaws.
Almost nothing. Because, if to submit to the algorithm is to accept the new order of life, to resist it is pure poetry. And when it comes to poetry, nothing beats Value Village, this bastion of independent thinking. Value Village is my happy place, my constant antidote to boredom.
An enduring brand from Savers, a family-owned chain of 300 thrift stores founded in 1954, Value Village is rooted in the firm belief that all plastic cups are made equal, virtue resides in the bargain and absolutely nothing should ever go to waste.
In our shuttered online world, this is the last the stubborn island of randomness, the one place where to sift through 70’s vinyl records, strut in extraordinary high-heeled shoes, comb through crocheted blankets, purchase Moroccan Djellabas, Pakistani saris, NRA caps, motorcycled jackets, beaded hats and 80’s wrapping paper. Value Village isn’t your overpriced Goodwill or your well bred Junior League resale shop; it's theater, mayhem at bargain prices.
Here, nothing goes to waste. What cannot be hung on racks and shelves is gathered into grab bags. There are rows of small grab bags hanging from hooks and tightly-packed cubes of bulky grab bags stacked in bins. The bags are loosely curated by content, material or color but there are neither clear rules nor patterns. There are bags of plastic combs, others of yarn, bags of red tee shirts, others of stuffed toys, kitchen spoons, cables. A dollar will yield a garbage bag filled with plastic cups. Five dollars will get you a cubic foot of fabric. The beauty of the bags is that you will never really know what’s in them until you go home and tear trough the plastic. To purchase a grab bag is to welcome randomness: some things you will adore, others you will ignore, a few you will hate. A good grab bag is like a magical Christmas morning, at once magnificent, disappointing and delicious.
Again and again I find myself refusing the curated offerings of the algorithms’ silver platters in favor of Value Village’s eclectic styrofoam coolers. I crave the triumph of finding treasures. I also want the small disappointments and the ability to change my mind about being disappointed.
In a virtual, predictable world, I like to know there is a place where I can wander at will and decide for myself what will and will not do for me, a place where my desires are entirely my own, untraceable, meandering, poetic.
Is that too much to ask?