Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Shopping

Gal Friday did it again.  This time she tied me down and drove me to the mall's stores for our annual voyage of wonderment.  At least she blessed me with the privilege of riding inside the van, not behind the sucker.  Since the weather is so frigid and the exhaust vapor so acrid, she took pity on me.  Of course my traveling inside also minimizes the time to get to the mecca of money pits while maximizing time to watch our bank account shrink.  

You may question why I call this a voyage of wonderment.  Please allow me to explain.  All year I try my utmost to avoid stepping foot into any mercantile emporium, with the exception of Lowes, Home Depot or a necessary stop in our local pharmacy.  Consequently when Christmas shopping comes around, I am always amazed at the things I observe during our annual spree.

First of all I think every store plays the same Christmas music tape.  And why do they start blasting it before Halloween?  If you're in a mall, you'll notice the same song radiating throughout the massive edifice as in the smaller boutiques and haberdasheries.  By the time you've finished deleting your checking account to the minimum balance, these carols, hymns and ditties will remain entrenched in your subconscious until Easter.  Last year I found myself humming "Jingle Bells" during the baseball All Star Game.

Next, I'm amazed at the variety of items to be sold.  How do people make choices?  Once I sat with my agent in Capetown, Africa and he asked me that very question.  "How do Americans ever make a decision on what to buy?  You have so much to choose from; it's mind blowing."  At that time, they had three channels to watch on television while we had 133.  The selection of cars to purchase came to less than ten percent compared to us.  You get the picture.  No wonder women spend so much time shopping.  If they are serious about buying "just that right thing" for uncle Buster or cousin Susy, hours or even days could be spent on a proper choice.  Men shouldn't worry when the wife is away from home for 10 hours and comes back looking messy and spent.  When she claims she's been out shopping, gentlemen, she hasn't been out playing footsie with her lover; believe her, she's really been shopping.

Now let's look at the shoppers themselves.  Upon crossing the threshold of a store, they all seem to suffer sudden cases of Alzheimer's.  They slow to geriatric shuffle mode.  Reverse becomes their popular speed as they tread the carpets and tiles.  They can't seem to remember to get out of the way.  Clogging the aisle as they search the shelves and racks has become a favorite hobby.  Even young mothers seem afflicted with this elderly disease.  And it's no wonder - I mean so much merchandise - so many choices.  I think the average brain goes into overload.  They wander around looking like zombies from a Fifties horror film.

Now me, on Christmas Eve I can go up one aisle in the men's department and down a second in the ladies' section and complete my Christmas shopping.  "Just the right thing" doesn't apply in my case.  In fact my women giftees very seldom get the correct size or style garments and the guys are lucky to receive matching socks.  In the event they need to return or exchange my gifts, ( I'm batting almost 1000 in that department) I have the receipts wrapped with my presents.

Most of the time the racks are so close I can't get ole Red Chariot through and when I finally find an escape to a main aisle, people are so crowded together, I can't find an opening.  Sometimes I honk my horn (yes, my powerchair has a horn), switch to dirt track devil persona and ram my way through.  I've been ejected from a few stores because of this; however, it's a terrific traffic jam buster...and kinda fun too.  Some of those senior citizens, the same ghouls clogging the aisles, can really move when motivated.  Oh, yeah!

Do shop owners purposefully reduce the number of registers during peak buying seasons and why doesn't each clerk know how to operate one?  The lines at some of these counters rival those at the Super Bowl ticket gate.  Gal Friday shaved me just before entering our initial store.  After more hours than the gestation period of an elephant, we bought an item.  Then we entered the line to pay the piper.  By the time we reached the counter, I had a four-day beard.  I was terrified my chair would run out of charge...or worse, my pacemaker.

Yes, we should all emulate the Christmas spirit year-round, but if you get involved with the purchasing of gifts, be very careful - your "Ho, Ho, Ho" may turn into a "Bah Humbug." 

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