On Account

Twenty years ago at Pat’s Screen Printing we started to write a pirate story with a protagonist named Boots LaRue. The story never got very far, but Boots LaRue is still a pretty good pirate name, don’t you think?

When a pirate of yore went “on the account,” it meant he was hopping on a ship to sail off and plunder other people’s property. Sometimes it was hard to feel sorry for these other people, many of them Europeans extracting the fruits of non-European places off the backs off free non-European laborers. Nonetheless, when a pirate was “on the account,” nothing good was likely to come from it.

These days, I’m the one going on account, but I feel it’s corporate America that’s up to no good at my expense, and I don’t like it.

I need new boots. My existing boots, which see use every day of the year, have big cracks in them, and as we get to the season where we might could maybe if we promise to not be piratical in our approach to the planet start seeing some moisture and the point of boots being to keep the outside out and these let the outside in — well, it is time for a new pair of boots is all I’m saying.

Two pairs ago I bought something called Boggs Boots. They were soft-sided neoprene-y boots you could just slide your feet right into and then head out, straight into the nearest irrigated field or snowdrift. They were great for any season, and I wore them until I wore them out.

When I went to replace them, however, some genius at the Boggs company had decided that a cool innovation would be finger holes in the sides to help the user pull them on. I never found the holeless version difficult to pull on, and as I surveyed the giant openings in the sides — this was back when we had real snow — the virtues of this “innovation” escaped me, and I defaulted to a competitor’s offering, the Muck Boot.

The Muck Boot came with a sturdier (heavier) sole and no thoughtless finger holes designed to fill your boots with rain or snow, so I bought those and have worn them all over our less-than-hundred-acre wood, irrigating, shoveling, just gamboling about. . . And now, years later, they have cracks.

I feel reasonably reliant on the memory that I got this particular pair of boots from Murdoch’s in Montrose, although I don’t remember why I got them there rather than somewhere in Gunnison, and I am going to Montrose next week as part of my Medical Tour of Colorado (root canal), but:

In August I was in Tractor Supply here in Gunnison, wondering why it was that I get the rewards from my Ace Rewards program all the time but I hadn’t seen any neighborliness from my Tractor Supply Neighborhood program. It turns out you have to spend $1,000 at Tractor Supply to get a $10 coupon versus Ace’s lower path to a $5 reward. For all my trips to Tractor Supply and all the birds (and chipmunks, skunks, foxes and deer) I have kept supplied with feed, I wasn’t there yet.

But then we — and our rebate-friendly electrical co-op — bought an electric lawn mower (which I love and Lynn is traumatized by) and there we were, Neighborhood City. Plus, in September they were neighborly enough to wish me “happy birthday” via a $5 coupon.

This is where, like those Spanish galleon captains of yore, I made a wrong turn. I was buying a gigantic bag of bird seed and asked about my neighborly rewards. The clerk used the $5 one without me having to supply anything, even though I had a printed piece of paper, and then I asked if I wanted to use the other one as well. “No,” I said.

Well, that was stupid, because those Tractor Suppliers aren’t that neighborly, and my hard-spent $10 coupon came with a Nov. 10 deadline. I don’t know why, given that it took me so long to get to $1,000 in the first place, I assumed I would need something from Tractor Supply so soon, given that I can’t figure out what their actual niche is. They have some hardware, but not a lot, and some lawn-care stuff but not a lot, and lots of animal feed products but I don’t have that many animals (although metal feed pans have come in very handy for catching snow coming off my wheel wells in the garage that we had built without a drain). Lynn and I did go in the “macho” aisle one time, with the guns and the grills, looking for a grill cover, but they assumed we either had a smoker or an Egg, as the obvious two choices for macho men — why would there be a need for any other type of grill cover?

So now it is nearly Nov. 10, and I have a $10 coupon burning holes in my computer, where it is lodged. And I need a pair of Muck Boots, and I’ve seen a random assortment of approximately 10 pairs of Muck Boots, none in my size, just the other side of Macho Aisle (in pirate days, it would have been Macho Isle).

Kara, a Tractor Supply veteran with her animal menagerie, suggested I could buy the boots online and have them shipped to the store. That seemed like a good idea, and I set out to do just that this morning. Until Tractor Supply decided to go on the account.

I think they will sell me online boots without an account, but they won’t sell me boots at a $10 discount, even if I laboriously put in my code four numbers at a time because that’s all I can remember and the reward code is approximately 3,489 digits long, unless I have an account.

How much data do these stores need, anyway? To buy a pair of online jeans from Target I had to have an account. To buy another pair of online jeans from Walmart I had to have an account. On account of they need better ways to track me, I guess.

By the time we get done with accounts, reward cards, surveys and in-store cameras, we should have enough information for the data crunchers to crunch away for millennia. And for what? To track the likes of me?

I left Tractor Supply this morning without an account. I still have two whole days to decide if it’s worth my trouble to sign up for one, with a user name that hopefully is my e-mail and a password I’ll never remember, or whether I go to the store to see if there’s something I can buy — I’m good on bird seed for awhile — just for the sake of saving $10 on my purchase.

In the pirate days those no-account men (plus a couple women) would take whatever they liked without regard for the nominal owner. These days it feels like the corporate pirates want my very soul when all I wanted was a couple of new soles for my feet. There’s just no accounting for that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s