Count sheep instead

Published 9:02 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Let’s say it’s 4 a.m. and you can’t sleep. Looking for a distraction, you turn on the television and flip through the channels. In between the old movies and shop-at-home channels you will find an array of infomercial.

These loud, brightly colored 30 minute commercials are designed to sell all sorts of products. There are choppers and cookers, blankets and razors, exercise equipment and home cleaning products.

There are certain things you can count on when you see these commercials.

The product will be made to appear wonderful, even life-changing. A quick view leaves you wondering how you ever lived without a chopper you could use with one hand or a glass bulb that will water your plants when you’re away.

Another trend in these commercials is a loud spokesperson who hawks the products through an array of demonstrations.

Need to soak up the Nile River? The demonstrator has a towel for that.

Have wrinkles around your eyes? Let the announcer show you how putting electrodes on your temples will make them disappear.

Need flatter abs, a better tush or more-defined calves? The tanned and toned spokesperson will show you how to achieve each with just 10 minutes a day thanks to the handy, dandy Muscle-O-Nator.

You can also count on all the items being sold for the “low, low price of $19.99.” Usually, this “low, low” price includes a variety of free items, such as two Muscle-O-Nators for the price of one.

In addition to the $19.99 you can also count on paying extra shipping and handling. The shipping makes some sense, as in I’m sure it does cost something to mail these products.

The handling is another matter. What exactly encompassed handling and who determines what it costs? How much could it cost to take a pet groomer out of the warehouse and put it in a box? Are we talking $20 or $200?

By the time you pay the shipping and handling, your $19.99 product will end up costing you somewhere around $50, a price that seems pretty steep for a blanket that wraps around your arms.

The combination of the amazing demonstrations, hard-selling announcers and low, low price makes each of the items almost impossible to leave on the shelf.

Before you know it, you’ve bought $500 worth of potato choppers, pet hair vacuums and Chia pets that look like the president…all because you just couldn’t sleep.