In our fair country we like our beer cold, our freedom fries hot and our economy, well, not so goddamn recessed. We are in the midst of an economic meltdown, one whose effects have trickled down every nook of society, leaving no person with bulging pockets and no business with “Now Hiring” signs. It’s about time for our new president to come gallivanting across the country in shining armor, slaying the fire-breathing beast of recession and ushering in a splendid age of economic growth and free love. Even if his attempts fail, shining armor is quite expensive these days, so we can count on the money he spends on that to trickle down. Isn’t that right, Republicans? I love you guys; you always have all the answers.
Surfers tend to be a fairly self-sufficient lot. I haven’t heard of any government bailouts for shapers lately, and I see that Quiksilver can still afford to buy the radioactive chemicals that they inject Kelly Slater with on a daily basis to keep him superhuman. These are very positive things for the surfing world, but unfortunately, we have not made it this far through the recession unscathed. Although the government hasn’t been bailing out shapers, neither have people been ordering custom boards. At surf shops in San Diego, they have had to slash prices on Firewires in order to sell them, turning a meager profit that likely doesn’t even cover the cost to get the boards delivered to the shop. Many surf shops have closed their doors forever, and many more are currently hanging on by a thread. It’s not terribly surprising. When you fall on hard times and you are counting how much change you have in your couch cushions to see if you can eat something other than Top Ramen that day, then you are not likely in the market for a new surfboard. I’m not badmouthing Top Ramen, I would never do that, but I am saying that people make sacrifices, and sadly, “luxury” items are the first to go. “Luxury” items? Really? This is a little painful to think about. It is a sign that people really have fallen on hard times, because for a surfer to consider his board a luxury item is like a polio patient claiming their iron lung is a luxury item. That may be a bit extreme, but the situation really seems dire in the surf shop universe.
This recession has become a huge part of our daily lives, and the harder we look, the more of its effects we can see clearly. My friends and I started with the obvious: We would see a “Going Out of Business” sign, shake our heads and say “goddamn recession.” It felt good to channel the frustration and direct our anger toward this obscure beast, and we blamed it more and more until things got a little carried away. Last quarter I got a test score back that wasn’t exactly my most scholarly work. I took one look at the C+, crumpled it up and muttered “goddamn recession” to myself as I threw it away and headed home, ready for a stiff drink. This, of course, could possibly be true if the teacher who graded it slashed away with a red pen in a fit of rage because they received a notice of foreclosure from the bank. Or maybe the recession has affected the school in such a way that they cannot afford new Scantron readers and the old models arbitrarily butcher the occasional test score. Or maybe I didn’t study at all and I’m just being an asshole.
Whichever the case may be, this recession has got us down, and for surf shops (and zealous teachers) to stay alive and thrive, we are going to need a change. If things don’t change soon, then five years from now if I go check the surf and it’s flat, you better believe it’s getting blamed on the goddamn recession.