Imagine a mall

Imagine a mall. It’s a bright shining structure, someplace that you and all your friends enjoy going as it’s the only real one around. It’s got all the stores you want. The Gap. Abercrombie & Fitch. FYE. Nordstroms. Neiman Marcus. And tons of little specialty shops that give you a selection of wonders and delights that you, even in these tough economic times, are willing to trade your hard-earned cash to acquire.

Now imagine this mall is owned by a large company. Say, The Mills. They have a few grand malls, the last I went to was Arizona Mills Mall, and it, truly, is a great mall (as far as malls can be great, but that’s immaterial to this discussion).

So you’re at the Imaginary Mills Mall. And you’re in the The Gap at the Imaginary Mills Mall. And you notice something odd.

Every piece of clothing at The Gap has an ‘Imaginary Mills Mall’ logo on it as well. You notice that, when trying on the clothes, everything seems fine except that extra logo. But you shrug it off and move on about your day, buying the shirt you like. A&F.

That’s weird. Your modeling the new A&F jeans, and yes, they do make your ass look great, and you’re totally going to buy them, but there, again, is the Imaginary Mills logo. Right on the pocket, where everyone can see. Now it’s gone from odd to just wrong.

So you go and check the other stores. At Neiman’s you find scads of delightful accoutrements from Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan, and procede to try them all on in the hopes of whittling them down to something approaching affordable before hitting the cash register and drowning you future self in debt for pretty things.

And there it is again. That Imaginary Mills logo is on everything. It’s marred the Donna Karan. It’s defacing the Prada. It’s infected the Dolce & Gabbana! It’s on everything you want to buy, ruining your would-be purchases.

You find a worker at the store and ask what is going on. The worker sighs, heavily and says that’s the way it is. Everyone does this. It’s how it’s done. Nothing we can do about it.

Imagine the madman that said “People, you need to put this iron-on transfer on everything you sell here. It’s in the contract!”

Of course this could never happen, could it? I’d never stand for this! I don’t even wear Prada, but if I saw someone with a Prada shirt that had been destroyed like that, I’d at least shed a tear while mocking them.

The sad fact is that this happens every day, and not many realize it or complain. Look at your cell phone. If you have anything other than an iPhone, you’re shopping at Imaginary Mills. Everything you do with your phone, every song you buy, every video you watch, your carrier has approved and determined you’re allowed to buy it. But only watch or listen on phones also on their system.

This is why cell phone companies are inherently evil. And instinctively why no one really likes them.