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The gift of possibility - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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The gift of possibility [Nov. 5th, 2005|12:39 pm]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]

Comments on my post about Visa Gift Cards triggered a realization:

There really are few gifts better than a Borders or Barnes & Noble or Half-Price Books gift card. When I walk into the bookstore with only my own wallet, there is a chance I will buy something, but there is also the chance that I will save my money and walk out empty-handed.

Oh, but when I walk in there carrying a gift card, my heart sings. What I hold is not really cash, but a key that will fit only this lock. I can't be responsible and use it at the grocery store instead. Whatever happens, it will be spent in this store.

When I walk through the door, I am looking at an entire bookstore full of choices. Almost anything in the store could be mine, and so, for that period of time before I make a decision, I own all the possibilities and therefore own everything. Schroedinger's bookstore, neither mine nor not-mine, infinite and utterly patient, awaiting my decision. I am breathless with the anticipation.

I must make a guilty confession: I have been known to go to the cash register at Borders and pay for something with a credit card even though I had a gift card in my wallet. There are rules about gift cards: if I am buying a present for someone else, it will not be with a gift card - it's a purchase I had to make and I won't use my giftcard for such a thing! Also, if it's a book I have to buy for research purposes or some other requirement, no giftcard. Harry Potter would never be a giftcard purchase, nor the new George R.R. Martin book. Those are coming home with us no matter what.

Because a giftcard is about something special just for me. I've carried a giftcard into and back out of the bookstore several times over the course of months, before finding the perfect purchase.

Because the joy I get from the sheer possibilities that a giftcard promises are pleasurable enough that the actual purchase had better be darned good - otherwise, why give up the joy of possibility?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: libco
2005-11-05 06:06 pm (UTC)
Thats so sweet!
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[User Picture]From: wolflady26
2005-11-05 06:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, I feel the same way! My mother doesn't like to give gift cards because she feels it's impersonal. But a gift card gives as a present more than just the object you buy - it gives the gift of shopping without worry.

I've hoarded a generous Amazon gift certificate from a friend of mine since my birthday last March. I just spent it this weekend, and it felt wonderful. Getting the books themselves would have been nice, but being able to pick from endless possibilities was much better!

I also received a large Amazon gift certificate from one of my online communities as a wedding present, and I hoarded it for about a year and a half. I knew exactly what I wanted to buy with it - a digital camera - but the gift card gave me the luxury of waiting until the one I wanted came down enough in price for me to buy it. If the group had just gone ahead and bought me a digital camera at that time, it would have been an inferior model than the one I truly wanted, which is hte one I still love and use today.

Mmmm, gift cards!
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[User Picture]From: suzieboz
2005-11-05 06:21 pm (UTC)
I also again feel the same way; I hold on to my gift cards, no matter what they are depending on a purchase. I'm not going to use my Starbucks gift card if I am buying for me and a friend. I am not going to use my B/N gift card for cards, gifts, etc. I usually hold on to it and get some DVD's that I would never purchase with CASH. I like to look at it and say, hey; "Patsy bought me the Young Ones Box Set".

Some people don't like giving the cards though - person in point is my nemesis who you sat next to at my wedding. She doesn't like to because that means she can't buy stuff from the dollar store and try to pass it off like it wasn't. She would actually have to spend 10 dollars.

However for Christmas this year I want Overstock.com gift certificates.
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[User Picture]From: elfwench
2005-11-05 06:33 pm (UTC)
Last year my Aunt and Uncle sent me an Amazon.com gift certificate and it was the best present they could have given me. It let me buy the one thing I wanted most, a new video card so I could play City of Villains. If they'd sent a check, probably most if not all of it would have gone to the bills.
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[User Picture]From: suzieboz
2005-11-05 06:34 pm (UTC)
That's why I don't like cash or checks - cash winds up being spent on trivial stuff and checks go into the bank and then are doled out for bills, etc. I was never good at keeping things separate.

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[User Picture]From: elfwench
2005-11-05 06:40 pm (UTC)
I should have said City of Heroes (my mistake, just got City of Villains so it's on the braiiiiiin...) But yeah. I agree. Cash usually gets spent on the bills, too... usually the grocery store.
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[User Picture]From: rachel_renee
2005-11-06 04:13 pm (UTC)
I understand. I play too. I'm on the Infinity server, which one are you on?
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[User Picture]From: elfwench
2005-11-05 06:29 pm (UTC)
You are so very right! And the thing about gift cards is that they are the perfect answer if you know someone's general interests but are afraid of buying the wrong thing,
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[User Picture]From: dreagoddess
2005-11-06 03:51 am (UTC)
Or if you don't know what they have. My family will try to figure out what books or movies I don't have, but then I unwrap it and am all, "Oh, I have this." "It wasn't on your bookshelf!" "Which one?" "The one in the living room!" "Oh, this was on bedroom bookcase #2, bottom shelf." "..." So gift cards are wonderful.

One thing my mom likes to do for Christmas presents where she knows I want, say, a digital camera, but she knows she doesn't have anything near the technical savvy to get the one I want -- she puts the approximate amount of cash in an envelope, tapes a picture from the Sunday ads of a digital camera on it, and wraps that up. That way I know the money is reserved for something particular, but I get to pick the exact one I want.
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[User Picture]From: dandelion_diva
2005-11-06 09:23 am (UTC)
Oh, that's a really cool idea. Shall have to do that in the future.:)

Gessi
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[User Picture]From: springdew
2005-11-05 07:10 pm (UTC)
One of the things that makes a gift card so profitable, besits the 75-90% redeem rate, is the tendency of people to go a bit over the value of the card. You have a $25 card for instance, but you see a 2-for-1 sale and have the opportunity to get 4 DVDs for $30. Do you go over? Heck yeah!

The gift card lets you do this without guilt. It feels like getting 4 DVDs for $5. That's fantastic.
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[User Picture]From: cathubodva
2005-11-05 07:47 pm (UTC)
Yes! I love the 4 DVDs for $5 phenomenon.
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[User Picture]From: morgi
2005-11-05 07:44 pm (UTC)
Half-Price Books is the best store ever. Indianapolis is even civilized enough to have some.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-11-06 12:56 am (UTC)
Not THE best, but the best chain.

The BEST used bookstore I have ever seen was a place in Alaska called Title Wave. Besides having an amazing selection, they gave outstanding levels of credit for traded books, and kept all credit records at the store so when you came in you just had to give them your name and they could look it up. No expiration issues, no losing your credit slip. I miss that place.
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[User Picture]From: cathawk
2005-11-05 08:43 pm (UTC)
I agree completely. Gift cards from Borders, Barnes and Noble or the likes are rich with possibilities....they are a wonderful gift!!
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[User Picture]From: fragiletender
2005-11-05 09:33 pm (UTC)
I feel exactly the same way. I am always totally thrilled to get book tokens. They're an especial treat at the moment since I'm pretty impoverished right now and haven't been buying myself books.
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[User Picture]From: cieo
2005-11-06 12:00 am (UTC)
You're going to think this is odd--I've never received a gift card ever. If I do, though, I'll remember this entry. It was lovely.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-11-06 01:09 am (UTC)
Wow. They are nice little prezzies, if they're for the right sort of place. And thank you.
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[User Picture]From: dandelion_diva
2005-11-06 09:10 am (UTC)
That is very much how I feel about gift cards/certificates. Especially since I used to have *very* little money during the year (my birthday's in November, so Nov/Dec were my "rich months" when I was a teenager/young adult), and being able to go into a store and *know* I could buy stuff was heady.

I still love gift cards/certificates. A lot.:)

Gessi
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[User Picture]From: ba1126
2005-11-06 04:17 pm (UTC)
I've always thought that giving a gift certificate was like saying "Okay, I don't want to put any time or thought into what might please you, but I HAVE to give you something." Now that I've read all the comments about how much people can actually ENJOY a gift certificate, I think I'll make life easier for myself and send my married children a trip to the book store to find the ones that make them happy. Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-11-06 04:46 pm (UTC)
It only works for people who love to read (or love music or movies, as these are also options at Borders), but for those people it works like a charm.
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[User Picture]From: ba1126
2005-11-06 09:48 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, these are people who as kids fought over who would have the cereal box in front of them so they could read while eating breakfast!
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[User Picture]From: shadefell
2005-11-06 05:28 pm (UTC)
I often get gift cards for my and my fiance's siblings... in part because we're not always sure what they're currently in to, and what they currently have.

When my brother's apartment building burnt down and he lost everything he owned, several of my friends pooled their money and bought gift cards to clothing and book stores, and one Visa card thing. This was most awesome, because first of all they don't know him but still cared about him, and second because if you lose a gift card you can get it replaced. Well, at least some of them.

I am all for gift cards.

They are much better than, say, another round of bath products you'll never use, which is the default gift for most women.
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