Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Questions for Those of You Who Love to Shop

Today is Bob's birthday. That means that I went out on Saturday to buy him a few gifts to supplement the tickets to see Wilco and Neil Young I bought him ages ago (because, you know, even if you spent a fortune on tickets to a rock concert, you still want to give your loved one more than one gift to open on his birthday). By now, everyone knows I love my husband truly, madly, deeply, but why the hell couldn't he have had the decency to be born in July, say, or September, or even February (then again, maybe not in February, as then my birthday might be overshadowed. It's bad enough that we have to share an anniversary. I'm not sharing my birthday)?

No, he has to be born right around "opening day" of the Christmas season. You know, I really don't want to spend two hours listening to piped-in Christmas music jingling its bells all over the place when we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet, and if I didn't have to shop for his birthday, I wouldn't be subject to such things. I repeat: I do not want to hear Christmas music yet. Not even John Lennon and Yoko Ono telling me the war is over. Or Band Aid conjuring up images of Sting and Bob Geldof looking oh-so-cute-and-1980s in the original video (back in 1984, when you had to sit through hours of Madonna or Michael Jackson moon walking or big-haired-even-for-1984 Huey Lewis and the News, along with other less-than-stellar videos on MTV, to get a glimpse of it. Of course, today, a Martian wouldn't believe you if you told him MTV used to be this station whose letters stood for "Music Television" and that basically played videos 24 hours a day. Sorry, I am definitely digressing here with a subject that ought to be its own post. Forgive me. It's late, and I'm suffering from NaBloPoMo overload, in which I desperately grasp at anything that might be turned into some sort of blog post). Anyway, not "War is Over," not "Do They Know It's Christmas," and, most certainly, not "Frosty the Snowman," which I will be forced to listen to, probably about 500 times between now and Dec. 25th.

But I'm blaming my Saturday misery on the way-too-early Christmas season when it really wasn't all the decorations and music that were doing me in. Yet again, I have to admit that it really was just the shopping, made that much more unbearable by the Christmas season. The damnable shopping. And, so, I have questions (five, as that seems to be my magic number these days) for those of you who like to shop. Here's the sixth: would you please be so kind as to enlighten me?

1. When you pull into the parking lot of yet another godawful strip mall, which is where Border's happens to be in your hometown (and isn't that where it is in everyone's home town?), fully prepared to park as far from the store as possible, because you like to walk and know that seeking out such parking spaces is one of those "squeezing in exercise" techniques you learned from Weight Watchers, only to discover that every shopper today must be a WW member and that every other shopper must be a lazy slob who doesn't want to walk more than two feet to get inside, because you've driven up and down seven aisles and can't find a single space, what inspires you to keep from saying, "Fuck it. Nothing's worth this," and pulling out of the parking lot fast enough to earn a speeding ticket if any cop happens to be nearby?

2. How on earth do you handle over-exuberant, over-friendly sales clerks? No, I do not need help. Even if I needed it, I probably wouldn't ask, because, well, I'm just not the sort to ask for help. And because I'm not that sort, I'm even less likely to buy if someone gets in my face asking me if I need help. Oh, and you see, I happen to have my 13+ years of schooling under my belt, plus lots of real-life experience. I do not, nor will I ever, need help "finding the size I need" in a pile of khakis very neatly stacked by size. And just one more thing. You know, if I'd wanted fleece, I'd have been looking for it before I got up to the checkout counter and would have discovered on my own that all the fleece is on sale today. I do not want to get out of line to go look for it now, just because it happens to be on sale.

3. When you are shopping at an outlet, do you really believe that anyone on earth would pay $65 for the pair of khakis you are about to buy for $22.50? I mean, you are either someone like Bill Gates or Donald Trump or Sarah Palin, when she's suddenly discovered she's "on the campaign trail," who has all your clothes tailor-made, who would never shop at an outlet mall, and who doesn't really pay attention to price, or you are someone who expects a pair of knock-around khakis to cost around $45.00. $22.50 is a real bargain. There is no need to pretend they were ever $65, and I'm insulted that you think I'd believe such a thing.

4. Are you fooled by 29.99? 39.99? I'm telling you, I'm not the least bit math phobic at this point in my life, but I still find 0's far friendlier than 9's when it comes to trying to add stuff up in my head. I'd rather add $30 and $40, than 9-anything. And I want to meet the fool who did the study everyone claims exists proving that people "really do think $29.99 is a much better price than $30.00." I'm sure there are all kinds of holes in his or her research methodology, because I have yet to meet a soul who doesn't mock this notion.

5. Has anyone yet invented a shopping robot? Can I get one without having to leave the comfort of my own home?


litlove said...

Oh I hear you about Christmas shopping. I like shopping and I love buying presents for people, but Christmas is a chore because I'm obligated to buy presents for everyone whether I find something nice or not. This year I'm considering it an opportunity to support the book market (like I don't do that daily!) and will try to get as many presents as possible for people from amazon. And if I can't get it online, then a bookstore is always a more friendly place to be. I tell you, to combat the season you have to take a stance, somehow!

Anonymous said...

I detest Christmas shopping, it takes all the fun out of shopping. But thank you for asking all those questions, you just provided me with my next blog post!

Anonymous said...

1. Valet parking at the mall! There are days when I would pay anything not to have to find a parking spot.

2. I do what you do - mutter under my breath. The only time salespeople are that friendly and easy to find is when you are not in the mood or don't need their help.

3. Some things are definitely "made" to be sold at the outlet and not discounted at all.

4. These are the same people that decided that you can sell property for $299,900 because $300k is too much.

5. I would be happy to be your personal shopper except for the holidays because my husband had the audacity to be born on January 2nd!

Nigel Patel said...

1. This year I have the insane luck of living within ten short blocks of Borders store #1 but yes, when I see an overstuffed parking lot I'm inclined to say "Fuck this, I'll take the bus in".
2. I was a retail monkey the last two Xmas seasons so I know their bullshit for the bullshit that it is. But yeah, I hate being catered to. Even by UofM students.
3. I haven't been outlet shopping in ages! Now I wanna go!
4. Have you looked at the gas station? 1.88.99 sneaky bastards.
5. I already don't like ShopperBot. I just know I'd be able to do a much better job of it than it could.

Cam said...

My husband's birthday is Dec 24th. He keeps asking me when we can celebrate just his birthday, rather than Christmas. My answer: when the date for Christmas is changed.

I did a lot of my shopping last year at the drug store. Seriously! And most everybody was happy with what they got (lots of gift cards, including ones for bookstores and the place at the mall to buy games, dvds, cd's, etc.). The only mall traffic problem I had to face was the fact that my office building is in the same area. Arghhhh. Wish I could work from home for the next month.

stefanie said...

Happy birthday to Bob!

I hate shopping at all times except if it's books. Strangely though, my husband and I like to go out to the Mall of America on Christmas Eve not to shop--we've already sent gifts off to our family members long before--but to watch all the frantic people. We like to meander slowly past the shop windows with people streaming by us in both directions. We feel relaxed and at peace in the midst of the chaos.

Dorothy W. said...

Well, you know I hate shopping with a passion (unless it's for books), so I can only offer my sympathy! I'm doing all my shopping online, or as much of it as possible, which will probably be close to 100%. That's shopping I can handle!

ZoesMom said...

First of all the answer to a lot of these questions is very simply online shopping. A lot of times -- especially this time of year -- you can find free shipping, but even if you can't the shipping costs are worth not having to deal with some of these hassles.

1. Try shopping very early or late. Lots of stores have extended hours for the holidays and most people don't like to get up and out early.

2. Don't make eye contact with sales clerks. Ever.

3. Yes, people really do pay $65 for the khakis and whatever else you're looking at.

4. No, I'm not fooled and automatically round up in my head, but somehow market research does insist that it works. I don't get it either.

5. I must refer you back to online shopping. Or you could do what a lot of my friends and family do -- they email me questions like "what should I get so and so?" or "where can I get this thing?" Somehow I know these things.

I hope Bob had a great birthday!