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Suds for Drugs
January 8, 2013 6:03 AM   Subscribe


 
"There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures."
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 6:15 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Principal Skinner (on deciding which laundry detergent to use): "Let's see: Tide... Cheer...Bold...Biz...Fab...All...Gain...Wisk. I believe today I will try...Bold."
posted by Blake at 6:22 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


The goal of all these efforts is to turn clothes-washing into more than a to-do; it’s being a good parent, a good person.

Humans are weird.
posted by davidjmcgee at 6:25 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


“It doesn’t matter where the clothes come from, if you wash them with Tide, they do have almost this prestige wash to them,” says Maru Kopelowicz, a global creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, which researches consumer attitudes toward Tide as the brand’s lead advertising firm."
This prestige wash to them? What in the what does that even mean? Advertisers really have to return to Earth once in awhile.
posted by xingcat at 6:26 AM on January 8, 2013 [28 favorites]


It seems to me that Tide coupons would be a better mechanism because of portability. Would this show up in Ebay coupon auction prices?
posted by srboisvert at 6:31 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now I'm starting to wonder if P&G isn't somehow encouraging the spread of the "Tide As Illicit Currency" myth as a strange new form of buzz marketing. It seems like New York Magazine might even be on the payroll, considering the amount of obvious Tide brand-puffery happening in this article.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:33 AM on January 8, 2013 [24 favorites]


There are few things I have less brand loyalty to than detergent. Whatever is on sale is what I get. Weird to think that people will only buy a certain brand. Frankly I prefer the unscented varieties, but my wife likes a little fragrance, so we go back and forth on that too.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:33 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The average American buys 68 pieces of clothing per year.

What the crap? Even if individual socks were counted as separate items I don't think I could manage half that number. What on earth is going on at the mall?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:35 AM on January 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Strange Interlude: Now I'm starting to wonder if P&G isn't somehow encouraging the spread of the "Tide As Illicit Currency" myth as a strange new form of buzz marketing. It seems like New York Magazine might even be on the payroll, considering the amount of obvious Tide brand-puffery happening in this article.

You know, you might be right. This is from the article:
Tide isn’t just for stay-at-home moms anymore. It’s for single guys—and, as other commercials show, for a woman who wants to resurrect her “nasty, vile” old tennis shoes, or the parents of triplets, folding clothes in a crowded bedroom, who consider their kids “such a blessing” but “not financially,” or anyone looking to stretch their dollars. Says Kopelowicz of Saatchi & Saatchi: “Some people, just because they can’t afford Tide all the time, they might think the brand doesn’t understand you. Of course we understand you.”
That is straight-up press release territory.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:38 AM on January 8, 2013 [23 favorites]


The lack of concern about the thefts by P&G seems to indicate that this problem isn't as widespread as the article would suggest.
posted by humanfont at 6:43 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Money laundering joke.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:43 AM on January 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


This here is exactly what Saatchi & Saatchi is paid for.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:44 AM on January 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


This does not make any sense to me. What do they do with all the laundry detergent once they have traded it for drugs? I mean, drug operations are hampered by trying to deal with all the cash they get. If dealing with a bunch of $5s and $10s is a hassle, how could laundry detergent possibly be any easier?
posted by gjc at 6:50 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Based on the comments here, I don't really want to expose my beautiful mind to what is obviously an over-the-top PR piece, but I do want to snort some Tide now. That's what this is about, right?
posted by aaronetc at 6:50 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pepsi Blue, now in detergent form. Should we flag? Looks like NY Magazine should have.
posted by emjaybee at 6:50 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hot damn! I've been looking for any excuse to say this today, Roll Tide!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:54 AM on January 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


The average American buys 68 pieces of clothing per year.

What the crap?


Maybe the 'average American' buys a lot of cheap crappy clothing in big box stores that needs to be replaced on a regular basis.
posted by carter at 6:54 AM on January 8, 2013


The lack of concern about the thefts by P&G seems to indicate that this problem isn't as widespread as the article would suggest.

They're wholesalers. By the time the product is on the shelf, P&G already got its cut. If retailers start stocking less of it because their profit margins are lower because of theft, then you'll see P&G get concerned.

What do they do with all the laundry detergent once they have traded it for drugs?

Per the article, the detergent is sold either direct to customers (the barbershop model) or back to the stores via legitimate-appearing dealers.
posted by Etrigan at 6:58 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The drugstore by the apartment where I used to live -- not in the best of neighborhoods -- at one point had to put the Tide behind the counter because of theft, so I'm inclined to think that part has some basis in fact... but it's still a pretty weird PR-ish kind of piece.
posted by Jeanne at 6:59 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]




The lack of concern about the thefts by P&G seems to indicate that this problem isn't as widespread as the article would suggest.

Why would they worry? It's free publicity, and it improves sales. I mean, it's unfortunate for the retail stores, but P&G gets their money regardless.
posted by Slinga at 7:05 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe the 'average American' buys a lot of cheap crappy clothing in big box stores that needs to be replaced on a regular basis.

If you get 68 pieces of clothing a year and go through them in that time, you're going through one piece of clothing every 6 days. I mean, I'm not attributing any excellent quality to big box stores, but I assume I shop at the places everyone else shops and I don't have a piece of clothing falling apart faster than once a week.

The number strikes me as a bit of puffery done either by clothing retailers or laundry detergent manufacturers to make it sound like people are buying more than they are. Or maybe Americans are accumulating more clothes than they are wearing.
posted by FJT at 7:10 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]




The "68 pieces of clothing per year" sounds legitimate to me if it counts all purchases of clothing, not just purchases for the wearing by the buyer. Kids go through a lot of clothes per year, and if you're having to buy for both winter and summer, there's double the clothes, add multiple kids, and there you go.

Tide is the one detergent we have brand anti-loyalty to; it makes everyone in the house itch.
posted by Electric Elf at 7:23 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, I'm pretty sure parents of young children skew the "68 pieces of clothing per year" purchasing mean pretty dramatically. It least that's been my experience.
posted by pantarei70 at 7:43 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this why Tide is disproportionately expensive at some stores in DC? Harris Teeter carries it for like twice the price of Giant. HT is generally a more expensive store, but the laundry detergent is just egregiously overpriced.

That all said, I'm still working through my "1 year" supply of Tide that I inexplicably won in a coupon contest 2 years ago, so I haven't had to buy the stuff in quite some time.
posted by schmod at 7:43 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


So this "story" has gone around the block at least 3 or 4 times now, and I thought it was firmly in the urban legend category. Snopes claims it is undetermined, and not sure how much more this article presents to change my mind.
posted by k5.user at 7:47 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


That all said, I'm still working through my "1 year" supply of Tide that I inexplicably won in a coupon contest 2 years ago, so I haven't had to buy the stuff in quite some time.

You should take up crack smoking. You'll burn through it in about a week!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:49 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


*shrug* This is no different from people stealing baby formula (another item that's often locked behind the counter in grocery stores). Or copper pipes even. Thieves want money or drugs, so they identify an item that will sell for whatever reason, and then steal it.
posted by Melismata at 7:55 AM on January 8, 2013


The Prince George County Police Department has a blog. (link to an entry requesting help identifying the tide bandits)
posted by thedward at 7:55 AM on January 8, 2013


The article waxes lyrical about how great this brand is, but in the end there's no real explanation about the phenomenon. What's valuable for a small-time drug dealer in going home at the end of the day with a bunch of detergent bottles? Laundry detergent can't be the only relatively-pricey-but-easy-to-steal-and-resell-with-little-risk-involved item available in stores. Or is it part of a larger system where a variety of stolen household goods (rather than money) are traded for drugs, laundry detergent being one the most unexpected and therefore the worthiest for newspaper headlines (and P&G PR)? The article names earphones and perfume bottles but only as "bonuses" brought by the undercover cop to pass the felony threshold.
posted by elgilito at 7:56 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, I confess I have been buying Tide exclusively as laundry detergent, but the quantity that I buy is so low, it's too much work to research other products. It'll be three years on January 15th since I've been living on my own, and I've gone through maybe 3 of the medium size jugs since.

How do people manage to get so many clothes "dirty" and in need of washing? Except for jeans, it's not like I wear the same thing over and over without washing it. Most of the time, when I wear my usual polo style shirt over an undershirt, the polo doesn't get soiled at all, so I wear them twice before washing, but that's about it for re-use. I can see having a lot to wash with a family and messy kids, but the usage per capita seems awfully high.
posted by Foolhardy at 7:58 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


How do people manage to get so many clothes "dirty" and in need of washing?

Living in a hot/humid climate really helps.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:09 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Things that add to your laundry pile:

Having a work uniform or work-specific clothing that gets dirty.
Going to the gym.
posted by sciencegeek at 8:15 AM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


On reading this, it occurs to me that I also buy Tide exclusively (well, with the occasional use of Nature's Miracle, and something else just for my bras). It works, and one of those big bottles lasts forever (as I live alone and do not trade my detergent for drugs). If I didn't still have lots of it, I might look into what other options there are, but I do still have lots of Tide and by the time I need to buy more I will forget whatever the other options were anyhow.
posted by jeather at 8:19 AM on January 8, 2013


In my case my work "uniform" (suit) is uncomfortable and hot which means two things; one, I sweat in them meaning that they need washing, and two, I want to wear other things as soon as I can creating a second set of clothing that will also become soiled.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:19 AM on January 8, 2013


Good points.

Going to the gym.

Oh yeah, I do most of my working out at home and don't have a problem with getting any clothing dirty in the process.
posted by Foolhardy at 8:21 AM on January 8, 2013


I saw this first-hand not too long ago at a gas station. I was getting cash at an ATM and noticed a guy come in, crouch down in the aisle next to me, grab 5 small jugs of Tide off the shelf, awkwardly stuff them in his jacket and walk out the door. My brain couldn't process what just happened very quickly (some guy stealing Tide off the shelf with me standing 2 feet away with $80 cash in my hand), so I ineffectively muttered "hey..." after the guy when he walked out. I went to the cashier and told him what happened. He just sighed and said they constantly get cleaned out of their supply of Tide. I asked some friends why someone would steal bulky bottles of laundry detergent from a gas station, and one friend said there was a guy that sold bottles of Tide on the bus, probably for drugs. I've never looked at a bottle of laundry detergent the same since.
posted by ahdeeda at 8:34 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh man, that quotation from the company rep: "It’s unfortunate that people are stealing Tide, and I don’t think it’s appropriate at all, but the one thing it reminds me of is that the value of the brand has stayed consistent"

"I don't think it's appropriate at all", what a bland thing to say. "Well, you know, Ken, I'm neither here nor there on the issue of bulk theft, but when the police finally collar these criminals, you can bet they'll be spotless thanks to Tide."
posted by boo_radley at 8:45 AM on January 8, 2013 [24 favorites]


"But judge - how can you call me dirty, when you soil 365 shirts to my 1?"

Bert & I
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:56 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The article waxes lyrical about how great this brand is, but in the end there's no real explanation about the phenomenon. What's valuable for a small-time drug dealer in going home at the end of the day with a bunch of detergent bottles?

The detergent doesn't go directly to their dealer. It's sold either to a middleman, or directly to people in the neighborhood who need the product. Anywhere there is an underclass, there is a thriving black market. Go to any nail salon or barbershop in the inner city and people will be coming in selling all sorts of stuff all day long. batteries, headphones, detergent, socks, cigarettes, razors, you name it. When I lived in Brooklyn, there was a guy who would come by the neighborhood bar once a week, selling steaks out of the trunk of his car.

A lot of businesses that serve lower class communities can only stay in business due to black market goods, as their customers can't always afford to pay the same prices the rest of us do for things that everyone needs.
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:56 AM on January 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


Things that add to your laundry pile:

Having a work uniform or work-specific clothing that gets dirty.
Going to the gym.


This is why I go to a nudist gym.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:57 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I still can't grasp how this can be anything but a marketing stunt... or just typically stupid sensationalist reporting.

ahdeeda's corroboration is the first time I've suspected this might be a thing... but it can't be a lasting thing, because it's a bit like stealing truckloads of ore to avoid having to carry heavy gold coins in your pocket. That can be stolen, just as easily.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:58 AM on January 8, 2013


IAmBroom: That can be stolen, just as easily.

You are saying money can be stolen as easily as Tide? Certainly not. The security and punishment are orders of magnitude less. I think the things that make Tide such a valuable commodity (if indeed this is not a PR stunt and/or urban myth) are: 1)Low security/punishment 2)High value density 3)Omnipresent 4)Untraceable 5)As a quickly consumed product, you can sell it to the same individuals repeatedly, unlike electronics or other luxury goods.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:04 AM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


The markup on a lot of household goods is pretty amazing. A bottle of dish soap for $2.79? Really?
posted by thelonius at 9:09 AM on January 8, 2013


billyfleetwood: people will be coming in selling all sorts of stuff all day long. batteries, headphones, detergent, socks, cigarettes, razors, you name it.

Yes, that's what I meant. There are lots of products with a good black market resale value and that are certainly as easy to steal, handle and resell. The focus on one specific product (and one specific brand) is just strange, unless there's something fundamental about the currency aspect: perhaps the drug/black market has organically settled on this product because it represents the optimized solution to a particular set of constraints (recognition, price, demand, availability, risk etc.). If the story is true, it's worth a PhD in econometrics.
posted by elgilito at 9:17 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I buy it. The article is totally over-the-top advertising, but I get it.

Imagine you're a crack addict. You can't hold down a job, but you need money for crack. You're willing to break the law, but you don't want to get hurt or risk major jail time. Shoplifting is the crime for you!

You shoplift things, then sell them to random strangers. Now if you're going to sell things to strangers, it has to be something catchy, recognizable, high-value, and necessary.

Baby formula, high-end razors, and condoms all fit these criteria. Things that people need, in brands they recognize (and therefore know the value of). And things that are expensive enough that they are willing to take the risk of buying them off some guy on the street.

But all of those things are now routinely kept under lock and key, because the stores have caught on.

Mentally scan the grocery store: there just aren't that many things in there that fit the bill. Something like Jif peanut butter is necessary and recognizable, but not high-value. An expensive cosmetic item like L'Oreal lipstick is recognizable and high-value but not necessary.

If you're looking for something you can easily steal at the grocery store and resell for $5 or $10... given the price of a jug of Tide, that's about the only item that fits those criteria.

Now I'm wondering if Tide introduced those pods specifically because they would be easier to shoplift, being a much lighter container. But I suppose that's a conspiracy theory too far.
posted by ErikaB at 9:27 AM on January 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


There are lots of products with a good black market resale value and that are certainly as easy to steal, handle and resell.

What the article misses is that it's not just Tide. Tide just happens to be the newest item to enter the underground marketplace. You could have written this same article about Mach 3 razor refills 5 years ago, but now most drugstores keep those under lock and key. Eventually, they'll secure the Tide, and crackheads will move on to something else.
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:41 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm wondering if Tide introduced those pods specifically because they would be easier to shoplift

Unless P&G were directly tied to the unscrupulous wholesalers reselling stolen goods to the stores, I'm not sure this financially benefits the company. Sure, the thefts do drive up the value of Tide, but the stores are buying the product back cutting into P&G's production.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:42 AM on January 8, 2013


You could have written this same article about Mach 3 razor refills 5 years ago, but now most drugstores keep those under lock and key. Eventually, they'll secure the Tide, and crackheads will move on to something else.

Yep. Before razor blades, it was baby formula. Next will be pound bags of M&Ms, but you didn't hear that from me.
posted by Etrigan at 10:04 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Baby formula, high-end razors, and condoms all fit these criteria.

Nobody steals condoms. You can get them for free at the needle exchange or the family planning clinic, so they've got no market value.

Nescafe Gold Blend though, is always a winner!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:19 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The sense I got back when I lived in a poor-ish part of Chicago was that this stuff made its way back into the economy via those dudes who walk from one car to the next on the L selling stuff out of plastic bags. Not just the L, sometimes they'd show up in big box store parking lots or at bus stops or etcetera, but the L was popular, I think because it provided access to a lot of higher income customers who were just passing through on the train.

At the time, it was — sure enough — lots of razor blades and occasionally perfume. (And also lower-value stuff that sold reliably because people might plausibly need it on their way to or from work: I remember lots of socks, for instance.)

Now I live someplace with fewer crackheads and basically no goddamn public transit at all, so I'm pretty out of date here. But if this is for real, I'd expect those dudes to be selling loads of detergent now.
posted by and so but then, we at 10:23 AM on January 8, 2013


My favorite are the guys here in DC that pick up store gift card blanks in the front of a big box store then walk to the way back and tell customers that it's a $50 card they'll sell you for $25 in cash.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:28 AM on January 8, 2013


Also, yeah, my understanding is that when you see condoms carefully shelved (locked up, behind the register, right near the register where someone can watch them) it's not because people steal them to resell, but because even reasonably well-off people will sometimes steal them out of pure embarrassment. They don't want to look the cashier in the eye while holding something that is clearly Used For Doing It, so they just shoplift the damn things.

Other things that you'll see placed carefully for similar reasons: lube, laxatives and antidiarrheals, enema gear, antifungals labeled for yeast infections, adult diapers. Some of those aren't Obviously For Having The Sex With, but they're all humiliating one way or another for a big enough segment of the population that you kind of have to keep an eye on them.
posted by and so but then, we at 10:29 AM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


...sometimes I like to imagine that that section of the drugstore is labeled Nether Orifice Supplies.
posted by and so but then, we at 10:33 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Did y'all not read the later pages off the piece? The ones where they talked about how the punishment for shoplifting is way way less than for mugging or B&E, incentivising this type of theft? And where they did a ride along on the buy portion of a buy and bust where the guy sold a bunch of tide to a nail salon? The first part if the piece, where they wax lyrical about why Tide in particular is able to charge a price premium on what should be a fairly generic product, would certainly read as puffery if read by itself. But the second half goes into considerable detail, including first person reportage, about how the black market for Tide works --- addicts nick the stuff and bring it to small mom n' pops in their neighbourhood, who buy it off them and either sell it themselves out the back of the shop or pass it along to 2nd-tier wholesalers, the people big chains use when they run into an unexpected shortage. There's circle of life quality to it --- addicts clean out the detergent section at Walgreens, and the regular restocking shipment won't be in to the end if the mobth, so the store manager calls up Crazy Eddie's Grocery And Druggist Supply and they sell her a couple of pallets of what may very well be her very own Tide.
posted by Diablevert at 11:14 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ten minutes later, Mallari emerged with an empty bag and a small wad of money in his pocket. He was offered just $30—a pittance by the standards of the Tide trade. “That’s a true crackhead price right there,” Thompson said. Mallari could have haggled for more, but that’s not the point, since it’s the retail prices of the merchandise that will be making the police report, and the headphones and perfume helped to boost the total value into felony territory.

I dunno about this. I think accepting an absurdly low price for stolen goods (even by black market standards) starts to cross the line into entrapment territory, since such an opportunity might tempt normally honest people into crime.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:20 AM on January 8, 2013


I think accepting an absurdly low price for stolen goods (even by black market standards) starts to cross the line into entrapment territory, since such an opportunity might tempt normally honest people into crime.

I think the prosecutors have written up a script that goes something like, "Yo, I just stole this stuff, whaddaya give me for it?" rather than "Yo, I just stole this stuff, gimme thirty bucks for it," for just that reason.
posted by Etrigan at 11:29 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


and so but then we, you're right, I just assumed that the name-brand condoms were locked up because they were being stolen for resale.

However, you mention sweat socks being sold by these guys. That's because they are used to huff paint. (I had always wondered why so many gas stations sold socks!)
posted by ErikaB at 11:53 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, I just remembered about a massive shoplifting ring that was busted in Seattle in 2011. They too were selling most of their goods to mom and pop stores.
posted by ErikaB at 11:55 AM on January 8, 2013


Besides the "tide-puffery", I was intrigued by the drumbeat of blaming-by-stereotypes de jour

a loose network of middlemen—barbershops, nail salons, and drug houses

It’s not just bodegas that hawk iffy product.

a heavily tattooed, spiky-haired detective

An officer overheard its employees talking about moving the Tide to stores “back home”—which in their case is Vietnam.

Yeah, right. Obviously only poor drug-addled trailer-punk immigrants are involved in this crime spree.
posted by Twang at 12:05 PM on January 8, 2013


If I had a bunch of laundry detergent I wanted to turn into cash, I'd tour the laundromats.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:29 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


My brain couldn't process what just happened very quickly (some guy stealing Tide off the shelf with me standing 2 feet away with $80 cash in my hand), so I ineffectively muttered "hey..." after the guy when he walked out.

Sure, but if he took your cash he risked serious injury or death by your hand. Not to mention that robbery is a much more serious crime than shoplifting.

Mentally scan the grocery store: there just aren't that many things in there that fit the bill. Something like Jif peanut butter is necessary and recognizable, but not high-value. An expensive cosmetic item like L'Oreal lipstick is recognizable and high-value but not necessary.

I've seen some of the more expensive meat items, like legs of lamb, fitted with security devices in my local supermarket. I don't even live in a particularly poor part of London, but I guess they are in this category of things that are easy to quickly re-sell.
posted by atrazine at 12:58 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I never know whether to believe this, but it has some plausibility because it mimics the trajectory of specie currency, which could be said to be currency that has value even when not backed up by state power: gold ==> silver ==> nickel ==> copper ~ crack ==> powdered cocaine ==> meth ==> tide.

Which implies that it isn't the intrinsic worth of Tide that's driving this, it's the need for a medium of exchange that will allow people who don't have money to exchange goods and services and make their lives workable.

Drugs could be used, and have been used, but they're subject to easy counterfeiting...... by Tide!

And so the counterfeited currency displaces and replaces the original currency which was based upon a substance with lots of value and which could be imitated too easily by a substance with much less value.
posted by jamjam at 1:00 PM on January 8, 2013


requesting help identifying the tide bandits

Return what you have stolen!
posted by banshee at 2:07 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


When shoppers are exposed to a brand they identify with, their ventral medial prefrontal cortex lights up—the same part of the brain associated with reward recognition in drug users. That neural pathway may have helped our ancestors remember, say, which plants were safe to eat or when a tribal marking meant a clan was worth avoiding. In the modern age, we use the same circuitry as a shortcut for more mundane decisions.

This article just gives and gives -- I thought the fake trend was the bullshittiest part, but then they threw in some pseudo-evolutionary biology.
posted by palliser at 2:14 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


So. I have a lot of friends down on the "south side," which is literally the other side of the railroad tracks and is the way this town genially avoids saying "the ghetto" or "n*****-town" out loud these days, although neither of those terms are entirely out of service in the vocabulary of the North Side denizens. My friends and I are not entirely precious angels; it's possible that sometimes some weed gets smoked near us, and we are sometimes known to loiter. But we don't hang around people who got heat, and we'll cut people out of our group if they start bringing trouble and police attention to our block. Still, even so, it comes that I am personally acquainted with some people who do things along the lines of stealing Tide from the grocery store.

Around here it isn't Tide specifically; it's anything you can get your hands on and get out of the store with, and then sell to one of the little gas stations that litter the south side, tiny ancient places with pumps that haven't been updated since the 1960s and bars over the windows and dirty linoleum inside, places that do most of their trade in cigarettes, blunt wraps, rolling papers and cheap beer. There's always a rack of food and household supplies, and it's usually almost bare. If you are acquainted with the owner, and you roll in with a bunch of non-perishables, you can get a little money for them - just a pittance compared to what they sell for up at the nice grocery store you nicked it from, but hey, that's more cash than you had going in.

And then the gas station has a little supply of food and household supplies which they, in turn, sell mainly to people like Mama Joan who I know, elderly people who don't drive and can't make it to the actual grocery store because the city buses don't run on the south side and the place is a food desert - which is a bit of intersectionality I just realized, and I'm making this comment just to point it out.
posted by titus n. owl at 3:01 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I feel I should specify that I don't steal stuff, my friends don't steal stuff, we just know people who do; and that I don't think that the south side being a food desert somehow justifies the theft or anything dumb like that. I'm just making some observations about life that I've seen.
posted by titus n. owl at 3:03 PM on January 8, 2013


The number strikes me as a bit of puffery done either by clothing retailers or laundry detergent manufacturers to make it sound like people are buying more than they are. Or maybe Americans are accumulating more clothes than they are wearing.
posted by FJT at 10:10 AM on January 8 [+] [!] No other comments.


Well, if you have to move often because you don't pay the rent, chances are you're going to experience at least one lockout, and lose all your stuff. This necessitates buying all new stuff. I know people who go through entire wardrobes 2 or 3 times a year with this kind of drama. Other ways to lose all your clothes:
- stolen at the laundromat (more often that you'd think)
- ugly breakup - clothes thrown out/damaged/etc
- clothes left wet in washer indefinitely and gone moldy due to drama/inertia/etc
- kids leave clothes at school, at friends houses, in the car, outside, etc
- work clothes rendered unwearable bc cigarette burns - nobody pays to reweave their Kathy Lee separates
- bleach stains due to emergency cleaning binge in work clothes

In short, when most of your individual articles of clothing cost (way) less than $10, taking meticulous care of clothes isn't a huge priority. You just throw it out and get more.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:18 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Frankly I would be a lot more excited about taking the subway in Philly if the sketchy dudes with their bags and jackets full of razor blades were hawking Tide instead but seriously, the suggestion that they pander to the crowd of Idiots Who Walked Four Blocks to the Laundromat But Forgot the Soap is genius. I would give them all the money.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:51 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


My younger sister and my step-dad were robbed of nearly all our clothes by a guy at gun-point. This was a terrifying experience. After that, we took our clothes and stayed at the laundry with them.
Our clothes were none of them suitable as ghetto attire. None of us could wrap our minds around the theft.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:05 PM on January 8, 2013


Our clothes were none of them suitable as ghetto attire. None of us could wrap our minds around the theft.

Thus making them more suitable for resale to secondhand stores.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:38 AM on January 9, 2013


I also buy Tide exclusively (well, with the occasional use of Nature's Miracle, and something else just for my bras)

You won't say what you use to wash your bras. You steal it, don't you.

No, you just want us to wonder what you really smell like. Oh god, it's working.
posted by surplus at 4:22 AM on January 9, 2013


robbed of nearly all our clothes by a guy at gun-point. This was a terrifying experience. After that, we took our clothes and stayed at the laundry with them.

Wait. Now you're staying with your clothes. So, during the robbery you were NOT with your clothes. That f**king robber menaced your washer at gunpoint, when you weren't even there to defend it.
posted by surplus at 4:26 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The big question: is there a Tide-to-Mackerel conversion chart available?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:41 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


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