Does Deployment = Shopping Frenzy?


I don’t think the ship broke suction with the pier before the emails about car shopping started:  You know we could save thousands! It’s the last model year for this vehicle! The overseas car sales guy is right on the ship!!!

Oh, Mercy. Is it just us, or does this rabid shopping happen to other people during deployment, too?

It makes no sense. My husband never spends a dime on himself.

He is the kind of guy who still wears the shorts he bought in college. He saves hinges and picture hangers and knobs from past houses. He once made me a fabulous standing lamp out of a wooden plant stand, a bit of old wire and one of those knobs.  See, I told you I needed to save those knobs!

So how come now that he is deployed, my husband thinks he is Jay-Z of the Sea? He thinks he needs a new car -- a convertible that goes 200 mph that he will only drive on alternate Wednesdays.

Who is this guy?

My friends say that their servicemembers do the same thing. One friend has a husband who cruises websites full of antique cars with plans to work on one of them in the driveway. Another friend has a husband who keeps shopping for Persian carpets and rosewood furniture all over the Pacific Rim.

But the big shopping item seems to be a motorcycle. Something about deployment makes a motorcycle seem like a really, really good idea.

It makes me wonder if the females in uniform do the same thing. Are they cruising websites for good deals on $15,000 Birkin bag? Or are they hunting down the overseas car sales guy, too?

Fortunately, most of these servicemembers know better than to believe the reports of their “lavish” military lifestyle.  Most of this shopping is just that — shopping.  It ain’t buying.

Still, every time my husband sends one his car emails, it just kills me. Because I always think he should have everything he wants, reasonable or not. I have a soft spot for him.

“And I can’t say no to him when he is deployed!” exclaimed my friend about the Harley her husband wants to buy.

I know just what she means. Which just may be the reason that we military families carry more debt than our civilian counterparts ...

I would be OK with the car if I thought a car was what he really wanted. Last time he went to sea, my husband got internet crazy about this red 1968 Plymouth Valiant. He could see himself restoring the car with his father and our teenage son. I loved that idea too.

But I couldn’t ignore the nagging thought: With what money? With what time?

He didn't buy that car. It made me think that maybe the deployment shopping happens because our deployed servicemembers are shopping for more than a bargain, more than a car, more than a bike, more than a perfectly furnished house.

Maybe they are really shopping for time so plentiful they can waste it. Maybe they are shopping for the freedom to drive on an open road. Maybe they are shopping for a life that they work so hard to earn one long day at a time.

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