Uncataloged

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Catalog season is coming up fast. A lot of them used to come in the mail around this time of year, but not many companies send them any more. Those companies have apparently cottoned on to the idea that we never buy anything.

At least, we never buy anything that those holiday-season catalogs sell, like clothing, kitchenware, and home furnishings. A few months back, Restoration Hardware made the inexplicable and expensive mistake of sending us their 17-pound behemoth, a choice I assume they made because we bought two lamps ten years ago, but the mail has been all but catalog-free since then.

Until yesterday.

You know all those internet quizzes that tell you which animal, color, state, or food you are, based on a few questions? (The kind you see on Buzzfeed, recently revealed to be the only news source distrusted by liberals, moderates, and conservatives alike.) Forget those quizzes. I have the world’s cheapest and most accurate way to assess your personality: the catalog test.

Here’s how it works. You take the amount of time between spotting the catalog in the mail and picking it up to leaf through. You divide that into the amount of time you spend leafing through. The higher the number, the more compelling the catalog. You don’t even have to buy anything to have your entire system of values and priorities laid bare.

That’s what happened yesterday, when I got an unfamiliar catalog. It’s called “QC Supply,” and the picture on the front is of four large feed hoppers and a pick-up truck. So, naturally, I opened it right away. I don’t know how long I spent with it, because time compresses when you’re doing that kind of thing.

qcsupplycThere’s a table of contents on the front of the 346-page catalog, and it’s got sections like “Livestock,” “Pest Control,” “Water Handling,” and my personal favorite, “Temp/Ventilation.” You don’t have to keep chickens all that long before you recognize just how important ventilation is.

There’s also a section on “Clothing,” and I did take a look. It’s got all the standard-issue Carhartt and Dickies farmwear, as well as sweats and scrubs, boots and bibs. And, surprisingly, underwear, including three kinds of no-nonsense bras. Two come only in white, and one, the Low Impact Sports Bra, comes in a package of two, one white and one gray. (This is redundant in my book, since every white sports bra I’ve ever bought has ended up gray anyway.)

Most of the QC Supply catalog, though, is geared toward things we don’t do. There are industrial-strength products for feeding, watering, medicating, and moving livestock. There’s everything you need to keep a farm operating efficiently and safely. This is a catalog for professionals.

And here’s the thing. I’ve gotten to the point where feed hoppers make me open a catalog, but I’m not at the point, and I never will be, where I actually need the items in that catalog. So there’s a mismatch between my catalog personality and my lifestyle. I’ve fallen between two stools, and I never have the right clothes to go anywhere.

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Comments

  1. Do you get points for tucking away the catalog, ‘just in case’ (regardless of how ridiculous a notion this is) and then picking it up again and again and leafing through it, even though you know in your heart of hearts that Someone will never let you buy that greenhouse no matter how well you can justify it or how much you want it? The Farmtek catalog does that to me and I wondered if that scenario fits in with yours anywhere….

    • Yes. You get points. Lots of points. Maybe even more points than if you actually needed the thing.

  2. Our livestock consists of a beagle and a shar-pei mix, and so we definitely need absolutely NOTHING from this catalog. And yet… I find I now have an irrestible urge to own giant feed hoppers with awesome animals painted on the sides.

  3. I love (certain) catalogs! Wonderful bathroom fodder. There a couple I throw away pretty much right away because just too tempting unless I need something. Love our bee catalogs, and Sportsmans guide,etc.

  4. PQ, I think Myrna has the answer for us. Let’s leave the catalogs in the bathroom. That way, we can have our reading material, but also acknowledge that we know it’s not for real, since nothing for real is ever kept in the bathroom.

  5. You guys are making me feel extremely old. (Well, I guess I am extremely old.) Because I can remember when catalogs as bathroom fodder didn’t mean stuff to read. I spent my childhood summers (about 2/3 of a century ago) on a farm without indoor plumbing. The outhouse was equipped with a Montgomery-Ward catalog to take care of necessities. A roll of toilet paper was kept on a shelf just inside the back door of the farmhouse and the adults always brought it with them, but if they forgot to bring it back it quickly succumbed to dampness and became useless. (At the time I didn’t know why they even bothered with the stuff. Now I understand.) Catalog pages were far more durable.