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No playa gifts!
by PF

Of all the things that give me the urge to make playa spin-art out of my lunch, nothing does it better lately than the ridiculous 'playa gifts' given out by those grinning, candyass visitors to my camp at all hours of the morning.

You know these people; they mosy up to you when you're right in the middle of spreading Vegemite on your bagel, all teeth and dilated pupils with a bag slung over their shoulder, like some raving Santa Claus. They invariably try to butter you up by complimenting something or other, and then they lay it on you:

"Would you like a glittery Pokemon sock puppet? I made them myself."

Poor deranged souls... I might actually feel sorry for them if they weren't so damn annoying. You can just tell they spent all summer on the project, in a desperate effort to appear like a 'participant,' wasting valuable time they could have used to, say, take ballroom-dancing lessons.

"I made them myself." NO SHIT. Like you would BUY five hundred glittery Pokemon sock puppets to distribute at Burning Man like so many hamster pellets?

Oh, I'm already anticipating their response to my rancor... 'You don't have to accept it.' Come on, you know the score; if I don't accept the stupid gift, I look like an asshole. I mean, I may BE an asshole, but I sure don't want to LOOK like one...

Don't get me wrong -- I would gladly take something cool or useful (like booze, for instance). But nine times out of ten it's just useless and/or hideous. A perfect example is the hand-sewn Mr. Hankies from 1999. I mean, they were sort of cute, but what a hack job! Excuse me, but they looked like crap!

These little gifts do absolutely nothing for me except fill up my already-crammed backpack. Why do people go to all the trouble? Is it peer pressure? What burns me up the most is my suspicion that they're secretly hoping for something in return... preferably something they can consume on the playa so they won't have to carry it home.

Okay, memo to all you gift-bearers: By unloading your superfluous knick-knacks on me, you are passing the 'leave-no-trace' buck. As it becomes obvious that no one wants your garbage, you will resort to any means necessary to not have to take it home yourself. Someone is going to have to pick up after you. YOUR GIFTS BENEFIT NO ONE.

I've decided I'm going to keep an extra trash bag by our camp that says 'playa gifts' and invite gift-bearers to drop them in. The most annoying bearer will find the bag of goodies at his or her campsite on Sunday morning (as soon as I'm done with my vegemite bagel).

And don't give me this 'gift economy' bullshit. The fact that this behavior is ACTUALLY SANCTIONED by our fearless leaders is just more reason for me to mistrust them.

I've got a better idea... Why don't you save the money you would have spent on the gifts, divide it by however many you were going to make, and distribute the cash instead? Now, cash is something I guarantee will be well-received by all.

Oh, did you say something about 'no commerce'? Give me a break! How did you pay for the stuff to make all those damn gifts?

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