Over 20 years ago when I started dating my wife, we quickly learned that we spent our 20s building up a decent amount of credit card debt. When we got engaged, we had to put some sort of plan together to erase that debt otherwise we’d be broke our whole lives. We entered into a credit counseling program that basically helped us consolidate and renegotiate our credit rates. Even back in the 90’s credit card rates were in the 20%’s and we successfully froze all of our credit cards and negotiated down our interest rates on all of our credit cards except for one.
Discover Card refused to assist us in reducing our credit rate. I was personally offended and promised to never use a Discover Card or their parent company (at the time) Sears. That personal boycott has lasted to this day and outlasted Sears.
I felt a sense of pride in holding to my convictions and have often looked for other companies doing evil to steer away from. My dad famously doesn’t shop at Wal-Mart. Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A are good examples of businesses many steer clear from because of their negative views on social issues. But damn is a Chick-Fil-A sandwich good.
In the social media age, not a day goes by where you’re informed of a company you’re supposed to boycott or stay away from. There are websites like Ethical Consumer and #GrabYourWallet that will tell you what companies donate to what political campaigns and what owners might hold specific views. Nearly every company is on the list for something. Amazon is on the list because owner Jeff Bezos has a history of alleged employee mistreatment. Name nearly any Silicon Valley company and they’ve got a history of something you’re not to spend your money with.
Nearly every retailer, bank, corporation, or business has something you could potentially be offended by, and move your money elsewhere. I’ve yet to actually learn of a company to seriously face financial ruin from a social boycott. Amazon seems to be doing just fine. Wal-Mart doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. But still, I’ve tried to keep an eye out for the grossest injustices and avoid spending money there.
Somewhere a couple of years ago, the sandwich shop Jimmy John’s popped in my head as a place to steer clear of because their CEO had been photographed hunting big game in Africa. Okay, I thought to myself, I’ll try to make a difference and steer clear.
Jump ahead to last Thursday during the great Cops for Kids event in downtown Platte City. Not only did I get the special treat of watching bossman Ivan Foley get dunked dozens of times by his adoring public, but there were plenty of businesses handing out free samples from the wonderful square on Main Street. One of those businesses was Jimmy John’s. A very lovely woman handed me a morsel of a turkey sandwich which I gobbled right down.
Folks, I’ve got to be honest, I drove straight away from the event to the nearest Jimmy John’s and bought a turkey sandwich. Boycott be damned. I ordered the largest sandwich on the menu. And it was eaten by the time I got home.
I wanted to be a good soldier in the social justice wars. I want to stick it to the worst of the worst. But I think I’m self-aware enough to tell you that Amazon could skin puppies in Times Square and I’ll probably still buy something once a week from them. Wal-Mart could pay their employees a dollar an hour, and if I’m out of deodorant and there’s only a Wal-Mart around, I’m stopping at Wal-Mart.
And I can also tell you that Jimmy John’s turkey sandwich I devoured last week won’t be my last. I just hope it doesn’t mean some rare elephant faces its demise because of my triggered addiction to a double turkey with mayo, mustard, hold the tomato. I will, however, not be paying for it with a Discover card.
(Get more Chris Kamler on Twitter, where he cranks out the comments under the name @TheFakeNed. You can also find him on YouTube by searching Rambling Morons podcast. You’ll also find him on Facebook, Instagram, and occasionally at Jimmy John’s)