The last time I went into Target, about a month ago, I had a head cold and bought salt for my neti pot for 52 cents. The place seemed a little creepy that night, so tidy, so clean, so red, so relatively empty of customers. The middle-aged cashier told the girl in line in front of me, who was also a Target employee in a red polo and khakis, minus her name tag, that she could no longer combine her Target employee discount card with her food stamp card, a new policy that had just gone into effect the day before. They conversed briefly about this shocking news, while I thought, "Why aren't you two marching with a unionizing sign out front, demanding you be paid enough by your employer not to need government food stamps on top of your paycheck?"

But that's the codependent part of me talking. I should focus instead on why I have a master's degree but get paid as an instructor, when the work is broken down hourly, less than half minimum wage. I could probably qualify for food stamps myself, only in my family of origin, accepting government assistance is shameful.

Now I know that Target is even creepier than I thought. (Note the anecdote in which Target learns the girl is pregnant before her father does.)

Target also donates merchandise that doesn't sell or is returned somehow damaged or "salvaged" to Goodwill. Goodwill, at least locally here in Portland, then marks this newish loot with pink tags and prices typically higher than their used merchandise, and the pink tags never become part of the half-off color-tag rotation. A friend recently scored a new ping-pong table this way; it was only missing the assembly instructions, but he's smart and handy and figured it all out on his own in a few hours.

I wonder now if Target is also somehow tracking their cast-off merchandise bought at Goodwill; maybe their statisticians and analysts are constructing the picture of my buying habits as we speak. Oh wait, I'm doing that myself in this blog. Next week, I'll probably be receiving coupons for salt, diapers, ceramic planters, and Old Spice—the diapers and Old Spice to throw me off the scent of Corporate Big Brother, watching.

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