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Alternative Gift Cards 

A List

Remember when gift-giving meant picking out the perfect something that reflected how well you knew the receiver? Well, that shit's over! News reports claim that the sale of gift cards zooms higher every year because people consider themselves too "busy" to actually choose items.

There was a time when gift certificates were pretty much the genteel domain of department stores, but now it seems like almost every outlet imaginable hawks their own rigid rectangles, even for grubby stuff like tires. Still, I can think of a number of product and service providers that don't offer them, at least as far as I know.

The real beauty of the gift card kicks in when you suddenly have the impulse to do or buy something but don't have the necessary funds. You're bumming until you remember that sweet little slice of plastic you stashed away for just such a moment. The fact is, though, there are still a lot of urges and their consequences aren't currently covered by readily available cards. Let's look at a list of possible gift cards with serious handiness potential:

1. The Abortion Clinic Card. No girl plans to get in trouble, and is unlikely to have funds salted away to get out of it. When a girl reaches puberty her parents could just slip her the A.C. Card, maybe decorated with a smiley face, and murmur, "We never want to know," thus preventing her from interrupting their psychic flow that they pay good money for in the form of pharmaceuticals (see #4: The Legal Drug Card) and Yoga classes.

2. The Ice Cream Truck Card. If you've ever kept the ice cream truck waiting while trying to pry a dollar out of your child's bank with a butter knife, you can appreciate this. If you had an I.C.T. Card you could avoid that look of accusatory disappointment in your child's eyes as all the other neighborhood kids suck vigorously on Sponge Bob while he has to go without because you're strapped.

3. The Illegal Drug Card. Just think, no more scraping the sticky gunk off the bong screen with a letter opener in an effort to scrounge up a hit! Such desperate measures could be history if your friendly local drug dealer would only provide a gift card that could be purchased by your thoughtful friends, or you yourself whenever you actually have money, for the many times you don't.

4. The Legal Drug Card. I bet Rush would thrill to finding one of these tucked in a "Thinking of You" Hallmark greeting. The L.D. Card, decorated perhaps with a pastel cascade of capsules, would mean never having to go without your favorite pharmaceutical.

5. The Fireworks Stand Card. This card is to be used at those stands that spring up in South Carolina like gaudy toadstools around the 4th and are run by men who seem like their prior gig was spearing highway trash under the barrel of a shotgun. The urge toward fireworks, like that for dope, usually demands lots of cash and multiple bags of product, since you can't light just one. How convenient to dig out your F.S. Card along with your red-white-and-blue lighter!

6. The Jail Card. That bond thing bites, doesn't it? If you had one of these tucked in your wallet for life's unfair moments, you wouldn't have to make a collect call home and endure the humiliation of your father listing every way you've disappointed him and your mother throughout your entire sorry life, before agreeing to put up the money. Maybe this, like the A.C. Card, should be given by forward-thinking parents to their offspring ahead of time to help avoid all unpleasant intrusions of reality.

7. The Indulgence Card. This would be the ticket for when you've screwed up and figure you'd better get your butt into a house of worship. Sure, you could insert some coins into the candle-lighting stand, but that's just chump change if you're try to show the Almighty that you're serious about copping some forgiveness. Let's get back to the whole concept of being able to pay off sins that the Church cashed in on so handsomely when it sold indulgences. Any minister, rabbi or priest would accept the Indulgence Card with a smile, and it sure beats having to actually alter your ways.

8. The Mortuary Card. I know that funeral homes offer pre-pay plans, but they involve paperwork. Boring! This simple card would guarantee the receiver that their family does something halfway decent with their ashes, so they don't have to worry about ending up in the kitty litter. Picture its design as the silhouette of a scythe.

9. The Blow Job Card. Redeemable at rest stops across the country. Perfect for the hardworking truck driver in your life!

When given, these cards would prove that you do know what your dear ones crave, and, when received, would provide you with the chance to get what you really want. Win-win!

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