Monday, December 14, 2009

Spirit of Christmas Looming Ahead

The Monitor had the privilege of talking to “Slabs” Coletti, noted trade embalmer for a prominent funeral home in upstate NY, last week- he had just finished cleaning up the prep room and took a few moments to enlighten the editors with his timely advice.
“At this time of year, it’s a safe bet that at least a third of your time will be spent examining the purchases of the other fellow shoppers in front of you, and like most of us, you end up wondering, ‘What could they possibly have been thinkin’ when they picked out that?’” Within the industry, Slabs has a reputation for being a dangerous intellectual. “I like to use that time to draw up a sort of psychological profile of those folks, based on their purchases. This not only fills the empty hours usually wasted at the cash register, it occasionally helps warn me of any potential troublemakers I might have to face in the parking lot getting out.”
While he admits it’d be tough to get a bead on him from the items Slabs usually buys (extra nylon knee-highs for ladies, inexpensive pancake makeup and bulk-load lots of hand sanitizer), he usually ends up placing most other folks into these regular categories:
Early adopters: distinguished by the fact that their pumpkins (or possibly even Memorial Day flags) are still on their porch. They are easy to spot; they’re the only ones in line in light shirts and shorts as they load up on the wreaths, garlands and playful snowman inflatables for the front yard. Everyone knows one of these types- they’re the ones who have enough forethought to take that picture when they were in Hawaii of the whole crew in Santa hats so they can have them printed up for Christmas cards in December. (Yeah, he hates them, too.)
Not to be confused with:
Lazy slobs: their pumpkins are still on their porches alright, but it’s December 20th already and the pumpkins look like some kid’s science project. They’re usually buying the Christmas tree that’s displayed closest to the checkout line.
This group is a subset of the type Slabs likes to call the

Playing Chicken with the Christmas Sales Bunch: Their decorations are a random mix of whatever’s leftover just before Christmas Eve and the dross the stores are desperate to dump. While colorful to be sure, the only unifying theme here is cheap and junky; meaning most of it will either break or get lost before next year, requiring them to repeat the cycle endlessly. Sometimes, Slabs notes, a single item alone will standout as a clue-
The Charlie Brown tree: Sure, this is Everyman- who can’t relate to this holiday classic? But if that special someone in your life wants to wallow in the feelings of alienation and inadequacy associated with this tree, then the perfect gift for them might be the collected works of Sylvia Plath.

Anything from Frontgate©: Hopeless one-upmanship “My favorite strategy here,” says Slabs, “when dealing with these people, is to imply that their purchase will do in a pinch if nothing else can be acquired, but that you wouldn’t touch anything that wasn’t fresh-flown in from Vermont or Washington State.”
When asked what Slabs was planning on giving for Christmas gifts himself this year, he replied, "Fruitcakes. It's a cinch folks will always think of me when they see it; what else is more well-preserved than that?"

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