Economics and Guilt

02/07/2009 By Shawn Burns

As Emily and I chased Erin around the grocery store during a quick stop to buy milk I was addressed by someone I had never expected to see again. I’m certain I’ll never see her again now.


I turned to face this inquisitrix, a brunette with long curly hair, and although I could not immediately place her I offered a pleased “Hi!” in return.

Dammit. Who are you?

I experienced some really deep feelings of guilt when I met her gaze.

But why? Who is this person?

“Is this the little one?” she asked, indicating Erin.

Emily was walking along with me and Erin was dashing away toward the blue hyper-entertainment-center-shopping-carts parked at the edge of the store. “Blue! Cart!”

“Yeah,” I replied. But knowing the rest of the conversation was going to require introductions, and having a terrible history involving the introduction of women to each other, I sought an escape, or at least a delay so I could remember who this person was and why I should feel so guilty about seeing her.

Nodding toward my daughter as she took off in a “I’m sorry, I can’t stay to chat” kind of way, I followed Erin to the blue carts and caught my reflection in a mirror.

Ok, dude. Dude. You’re blushing. What the hell is wrong with you? Why is it bothering you so much that you ran into this person? Although it’s good that you ran into her today, clean-shaven and with your hair actually brushed and in place and nicely cut instead of on one of your scruffy days.

Nicely cut…

And then it crashed down upon me, who this woman was and why I had hoped to never see her out in public. She was my hair stylist from The Man Spa, and I had canceled on her to go to my old barber. I had cheated on her, and all for the sake of saving some money in the new economy; not caring that she would miss me; not caring that she also could use some extra cash during hard times.

That’s the problem with the natural instinct to save during recession; it’s completely reinforcing of the recession. Confidence is low because the chances of the money continuing to flow to consumers look reduced; but since confidence is low consumers save rather than spend, which guarantees that money will not flow to other consumers, who then are uncertain about the economy and do their own best to save, spiting everyone’s faces and flinging severed noses everywhere.

Thankfully, by the time I had returned to the spot whence Erin and I had made our exeunt she was gone, and I confessed to Emily who the strange woman had been.

“Ah,” she said, “she might as well have caught you with your tongue down some other woman’s throat.”

I’m sorry, Stylist. My barber may be blind, but he’s cheap and doesn’t force me to reflect on myself too much. He doesn’t make me ask hard questions about the image I want to portray to the world. When I sit in his chair he just says one thing:

“So, looks like you need a ‘medium’.”

And that’s the kind of relationship I need right now, in these uncertain times.