Framing the Dialogue

Christmas Shopping…Dragged Kicking and Screaming

I sent this cell phone photograph to my son from BB&B in a failed attempt to have him rescue me last night.  He "claimed" to have to study for one of his college finals.

I sent this cell phone photograph to my son from BB&B in a failed attempt to have him rescue me last night. He "claimed" to have to study for one of his college finals. I had to spend an additional fifteen minutes in the store.

Few words strike fear in me like when my wife says “let’s go to the mall shopping for a little while.”  I really love my wife (please note that I don’t really have to say this as she does not read my postings) and acquiesced even though the mall is torture to me.  The level of torture is proportional to the number of related females in the shopping party. 

While only one woman from my family participated last night, the complexity increase since we had very detailed lists (with photographs and notes) from the other two women in my family. 

In my experience entering the mall turns my world into a slow motion sequence where “I’ll just be five minutes” is actually more like thirty minutes.  I think Einstein was deceased long before malls became the norm for shopping or he probably would have written this equation:

Mt = Rt(1 +2Cp)  (Mt – Mall time, Rt – Real time, Cp – percent value of coupon expressed as a decimal)

So if you have a 50% off coupon and it should take you ten minutes to make the purchase in real time, it would actually takes twenty minutes in mall time.  This may be Nobel prize thinking here.  

Shopping is not my favorite pastime, but it is not torture.  I am generally an efficient shopper who will occasionally browse, but malls, at least the ones around my house, have really gotten chickafied.

I actually received on of these as a gift from my wife a few years ago.

I actually received on of these as a gift from my wife a few years ago.

The only “men’s” store, at least by my tastes, is Williams Sonoma since I really like gadgets, knives, shiny stuff, and to cook.  Some of the appliances are really power tools.  Beyond that there is not much more.  Brookstone got old for me a long time ago and I got too old for Spencers.  I actually feel like the creepy old guy when I walk in that store and the black light shows all of the stains on my shirt.  I seem more inclined to drop food on myself as I get older or at least notice it more.

I should have kept a diary of the experience although my wife said that we were only there for 90 minutes.  I dispute that claim.  I did have a few observations:

  • Jewelry is expensive in a department store.  Even the cheap stuff costs a lot.
  • Department store clerks should work on commission.  My wife and I were looking for a particular item and could not find it in its logical place.  There was a clerk there, but she seemed to be helping a couple.  As we expanded our search around the section I overheard the conversation between the clerk and the young couple and it was not a sales help.  They were friends chatting it up as my wife and I (real customers) were left to search on our own.  The clerk continued to ignore us and we left.  No sale for Macy’s.
  • We left Macy’s and found the item at a smaller specialty shop where they cheerfully helped us and wrapped the gift for free.
  • The placement of the Williams Sonoma across from the American Eagle store works for me except that I was too fast in my rounds and had to got in AE anyway to find my wife.
  • kiosk1AE keeps their store really hot and no one over 19 must be allowed to work there or they just keep the old folks in the back.
  • Mall kiosk vendors can be creepy as they try to engage you.  Sorry, but I don’t need a scalp massage or a license plate from my Alma mater or hand cream or a air-brushed t-shirt or a heated rice bag or a personalize Christmas ornament or a flashing cover for my cell phone or a calendar or…you get the picture.  I do not like to be rude, but feel the need in the case of the kiosk-dwellers.
  • My wife and I went different directions and were to meet at a store called Forever XXI (21 for those of you who no longer speak Roman numeral).  It was near the end of the evening and actually after the mall announced that it would soon be closing when I got there.  Entering this store alone as a middle aged man garnered some looks.  Since their clientele are generally young women I felt more weird than in Spencer’s.  I exaggeratedly looked for my wife, never venturing far into the store prepared with a witty response if a clerk asked to assist me.  My standard answer is “sure, can you help me find my wife?  Ha Ha she is wearing…”  I always have to know what my wife is wearing.  I am screwed when she take off her coat.
  • Bed, Bath, & Beyond must have a tremendous mark up for their products yet cannot afford a little ventilation in their stores.
  • Speaking of ventilation,I will finish with the penultimate assault on the nostrils.  The perfume gauntlet in the department stores.  Strategically placed at the entrance you often have little choice but to run it.  I can sometimes take three days to get the scent out of my clothes. 

The good news is that the mall closed and we had to leave.  The bad news is that we did not finish and I think I will be called upon to go again. 

Tis the season to be jolly…

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