OPINION

Bargain hunting

I was recently traveling in the same train carriage as two students, who were discussing the trials and tribulations of their part-time jobs in department stores during the winter sales when frenzied women turn the stores upside down in their search for that elusive sale item. They are searching for the bargain, their bargain. They hope to find a once-in-a-lifetime revelation within the piles of creased clothes. Life should be a landscape of potential surprises; but cheap clothes – bargains – often succeed in offering a substitute for happiness and fortune. Like slot machines and the lottery, store sales fuel the instinct for gambling – some way, somehow this heaven-sent, fairy-tale reward must be attainable! And as the two young women continued to describe the madness, a sleeveless blouse is able to inspire, I increasingly understood how much despair is concealed beneath the surface of everyday life, how much need there is for fun and simple joy which finally masquerades as something colorful or glittery, how much thirst for justice and equal opportunities which is directed at «bargain baskets.» And as the winter sales enter the home strait in the last week of February, prices come down so far that they practically promise to end the class war. Sales and carnival season coincide and dreams of masquerading as someone else are fulfilled: At last a middle-income woman can dress like a rich celebrity…