I was busy Christmas shopping for my kids this past weekend. Looking for nice items that they need, which are unique, useful, and have a high value-to-cost ratio. In other words, a good deal, inexpensive. OK, cheap.
Let’s see. I’ve been to Best Buy, Books A Million, Academy Sports (2x), Wal-Mart (ugh, not counting), and Target, just to name a few. Um, Dollar General, and Dollar Tree too.
I made my first stop in Target, which is a nice, open and airy feeling store. The aisles are wide enough that I don’t feel cramped, it’s well lit, well stocked, but full of deal-crazed middle aged female shoppers. Professionals, of course!
I was looking for the iPod-radio-dock thing in the electronics department there, slowly checking things out. I recently had knee surgery, so I need to re-emphasize “slow”. I’m doing well, recovering quickly, but I’m not able to dodge and weave yet. Or outrun a mob of 20 aggressive women with souped up shopping carts. Honestly, it was a mad house. I saw another man trying to navigate, he was barely making headway, and looked frustrated I laughed out loud as he looked around. He turned to me and said “I’m a Scout Master, but I have really been tested today.” He went on to explain that a woman had tried to take an item out of his hands as he hesitated, not sure if he would put it back on the shelf or not. And he was fighting back the urge to just crash his cart through the congestion, and make a run for it. I get that!
I left Target empty-handed, and retreated to Burger King to lick my wounds. A Whopper and Coke would make me feel better, and the crowd would die down by the time that I finished, right? Oh no… all of those aggressive shoppers? They needed refueling before they continued their quest, too. And were all waiting in the drive through at BK. I began to despair. I just needed a little food to get my blood sugar back up.
But soon I was pulling up to the kiosk to order! As I did, an extremely pleasant voice came through the speaker, asking if I’d like to try a combo meal today. I couldn’t believe they found someone who could remain pleasant and helpful in THIS mess. I cheerily replied with my order, and was suddenly talking to a gruff, nearly unintelligible woman who wanted to know “djou wanna make dat a large”? No… “Pull through..” What the heck just happened? Where was the nice, pleasant woman who had briefly restored my faith in humanity?
It was then that I realized BK knew they had to make a good first impression, and that holiday shoppers respond better to a pleasant and helpful “associate” than those grumpier and less articulate. Cheerful is in short supply, and so a cheerful recording was runner-up. I laughed, astounded that now even my drive through order was taken and partially processed by an automated human, you know, one of those telephone-operator things that I absolutely despise. BTW, those things are increasing in intelligence all the time. I had to call my insurance company after my knee surgery, and had jumped through about 10 questions when I found myself back at my starting point. Out of frustration I said “I can’t believe this garbage!”, and the headless voice responded “please wait while I transfer you to the next customer service representative..” That’s all I wanted in the first place.
OK, after BK my blood sugar stabilized, and I made my way down the road. Best Buy was crazy, though I was able to find a Sleep Machine for my son. This will allow him to dock his iPod (which I now need to repair, long story…)and will charge it while being his alarm clock when he’s here. I will still have to wake him up in the mornings, several times, as this young man can sleep through just about anything. I’m jealous! He also will be receiving a box of 150 grain Remington Core-Lokt shells for his deer rifle. And either a beard trimmer, or a book as a stocking stuffer. Welcome to my world!
I made a second run to Academy Sports today. Yesterday was simply too much, I looked at the parking lot as I passed Costco, and my blood turned thin and ran cold. I just couldn’t do it… But today I found a beautiful tennis racket, case, and balls for my daughter. She thinks she’d like to play tennis, so Dad has the goods. If I had to buy make-up, or clothes, I’d be sunk. But sports equipment? I got off easy!
I made it home, was exhausted, treasures secured.
Let see, where’s the eggnog…