Madison Avenue would be bitterly disappointed with a sampling of downtown Thomson workers and visitors. I searched for greed and came up empty. It was a trying and discouraging 24 minutes. This is my sad story.
Those TV ads are supposed to have everyone wishing for new shoes, clothes, gadgets, appliances, furniture and cars for Christmas. Beyond that, viewers are supposed to have selfish wishes for excess and luxury.
But the message is lost on Thomson. People want comfort and peace for their neighbors. Those glittering "me first" messages are all but wasted here.
The children, in particular, seem immune to the love of possessions.
Jasmine Adcock usually stays busy as a fifth-grader at Thomson Elementary, and Chandler Adcock occupies his time as a sixth-grader at Thomson-McDuffie Middle School, but on Monday both were assistant managers at Thomson Twin Cinemas, where Jamie Adcock is the manager year-round. Jasmine could have asked Santa's correspondent for something for herself, but instead wished for "some food, some money, and some toys for the little kids." Chandler had a similar thought. "I'd like to raise money for the schools so we can get new equipment for the gym," he said.
So much for a Red Ryder BB gun, or even a football. All those commercials, just wasted!
Perhaps the unselfishness had drifted across the street from The Wilson Co., where Bob Wilson was just thinking about his family members traveling from Texas, North Carolina, New York and Augusta. "I hope my family gets here safe ... That's my Christmas wish," he said.
Realtor Tracy Wells just wished "for my family and friends to have a merry Christmas." She might have been thinking especially of her daughters, ages 10 and 13.
Co-worker Angie Gergen also seems to have missed the material message. The mother of four, ages 3 to 12, had only one wish. "I just want my kids to have a good Christmas. That's all I want," she said.
Up the street, someone raised my hopes of an ad-inspired Christmas. Then she dashed those hopes. "I would like a new living room," said Teleen Stephens, the office manager at the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce.
Finally, I thought, someone putting their own interests first. TV networks everywhere smiling. And it got better. "I want a new iPhone," she said. Then she crushed my joy when she shared her plans for her iPhone. "I would definitely e-mail someone and tell them merry Christmas," she said.
There it was -- yet another unselfish Christmas wish. I was beginning to lose hope.
My quest took me across a street and two sidewalks and about 20 parking places to the distant land of World Finance.
"I just want my bills paid for December," said Kimberly Burch. She didn't wish for new clothes or possessions or even a day off work. Or for January bills or a Vegas vacation or any such frills. All she wanted was a little peace of mind. I was rapidly losing hope of finding self-interest in Thomson.
"I want some snow, about knee-high to a giraffe," said co-worker Curt McGahee. At last, I thought, perhaps someone wanted a new bobsled or snowmobile. But McGahee just wanted to "play in the snow with my girl," that being Raegan, 21 months.
I was close to despair before World Finance co-worker Michele Hagerman saved the day. "I want a new dress coat," she said. Not just any coat. "You know the ones, with the big, black buttons," she said.
There was no mention of mink or silk lining or a jeweled collar. It was far short of greed, but at least it was an appeal for a personal possession. Then she took it a notch higher. "I want a subscription to The McDuffie Mirror, " she said.
We'll mention it to Santa.