As we near the 2/3’rds milestone of Winter, the landscape becomes even bleaker. And I’m not just speaking of the gray skies and dirty snow, but the entertainment landscape as well. This time of year, I find myself reduced to thumbing through the stack of seed and seedling catalogs that daily end up in my mailbox. The pictures therein are so enticing that I end up, despite myself, placing a few orders. I have to keep it in check because my garden just isn’t very big, and I invariably crowd different varieties too close to one another because I can’t bear to throw anything away!
This year, like everything else, prices have gone up across the board. I am as upset about inflation as the next man but sometimes it seems as if gas stations and grocery stores bear the brunt of consumer animosity. I’m sure that’s mostly because a large percentage of your monthly budget goes to both. Prices continue to rise in all sectors of the economy but there’s an associated element of the economy that continues to bug me as it has for fifty years. I call it the “it could be worse” phenomenon. Prices rise to unprecedented heights, for whatever reason, and then when people become adjusted to new levels, the prices roll back . . . just a little. . . and everyone is thrilled!
The first time I noticed it, I was just freshly graduated from St. Bonaventure. I had gone to work full time in the supermarket and was tasked with making out several of the grocery orders each week. This was helpful because it helped me get a handle on prices as well as the items we carried. At that time, a one pound can of coffee sold for about $1.49 – and it was a full 16oz! Within months, the price of that same pound of coffee rose to between $3 and $4 a pound-more than double. The reason given to the buying public was that there had been some kind of weather event in South America that had impacted the coffee bean crop, essentially ruining it for the year.
People grumbled and complained, but they didn’t give up drinking their coffee. It was inconvenient for coffee drinkers but after a while, the grumbling stopped. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking, “when the next coffee crop becomes ripe in a year, the prices will revert back to their former levels.” Except that it never did! Instead, the coffee growers got content with the way profits had risen and never rolled back the price. The only thing that changed was that the 16ounces in the can began to shrink to where its now 11 or 12 ounces! Shady? Ya think?