Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Oh the Joy

Oh yes, Christmas shopping!  Now that’s not as easy as some may think.  Between deciding on what to buy; checking and comparing prices; figuring the right sizes, colors and shapes, it can be a real nightmare.  And that’s all before you take one step out of the house.
Not to forget fighting the crowds; waiting in traffic jams; and those never-ending check-out lines where you always seem to find the trainee who, at least when you get there, can’t quite master how to get the register working properly. Then, when she finally figures it out, the line supervisor appears, takes the drawer and closes the register and you have to wait for the replacement cashier to take over; and her whole demeanor expresses an attitude like you’re the only reason she had to get out of bed and comb her hair that day.
After all this, your patience is really put to the test because the first item she picks up won’t scan correctly and there’s no price tag on it, so a price check has to be made.  Deep down inside, you know the person who finally makes their way to the front for your item could care less if they ever get back or not and by their appearance, you doubt they could find the right line again anyway.
But you take a breath and don’t get discouraged.  After all, it’s Christmas and you’re a veteran at this.  Instead, you swallow hard, only clench your fists a couple times and even manage a smile that quickly disintegrates when you see the demon look on the cashier’s face as she holds another item up for a price check in the same department as the first.  A sinking feeling grinds in your stomach as you realize the bulk of your carriage is filled with what could be “misfit items”, all from the same department where apparently, the sales clerk who was pricing them was sucked up into the Bermuda Triangle days before.
Amazingly, you don’t panic and systematically go through your items and breathe a deep sigh of relief that they’re all priced.  Five items later, the computer rings up a price that is $5.00 over the price tag and you question it.  The people behind you get fidgety and tiny beads of sweat break out on their foreheads when the cashier calls for the supervisor, who seems to have built in radar that detects problems and she rushes to get busy, avoiding your cashier like the plague.
Somehow though, the miracle of the Christmas Season takes place and the supervisor makes it over, corrects the overpricing and the rest of your merchandise goes through without mishap.  Now you’re at the end and the two items being checked for a price have since vanished and to top it off, you’re having difficulty remembering what the heck they were and if they were important or not.  So you wait.  And wait. And wait.  Finally you say, “Hey, that’s it.  Just forget ‘em.”  Suddenly, as if hiding till you’ve reached this state, the clerk shows up with the two items that went back.  At this point, it doesn’t matter if you recognize them or not.  You decide to take them.  You also make a wise decision when you choose to avoid all hassles and pay in cash.
You hand the wad of money to the cashier and she stares at you with sickly green eyes.  You wonder what’s wrong until you hear those fighting words; the ones that send goose bumps up your spine and curl your hair so tight it makes a fresh perm look relaxed --- “This line is for charge only.”  One word and one word only comes to your mind and races to your lips and at the last possible second, you clamp your mouth shut before you scream – “KILL!”.
As you stuff and jam the money back into your wallet, all the while mumbling incoherently, you try deciding on which card is the lesser evil to use.  Some guy behind you mutters something sarcastic and you slowly, purposefully glare at him with an icy stare that would send chills up Godzilla’s back while a thousand thoughts forge their way into your brain, none of them with “good will towards men” or the “Christmas Spirit” in mind.  Your eyes lock with his so that all your thoughts transfer to him and he realizes the seething rage within you is far more powerful than he can handle, so he cowers down and begins poking around at the stupid little items hung on the pegboard near the register.
You make a last-ditch attempt at being civilized when you face the cashier again.  With teeth gritted, you force your mouth to resemble a smile, all the while fuming with anger and frustration.  Inside, you suspect that the cashier only sees a frothing, sneering animal that reminds her of a rabid wolf about to lunge and rip her throat apart should she say the wrong thing.
Having worn yourself to a frazzle, you leave the store and head for a place to eat to revitalize your body.  Your mind is still somewhat scrambled and you aimlessly wander into one of the restaurants where you’re like a robot shuffling along in line for about 20 minutes before
realizing you’re in the “dead zone” ---the halfway point. 
It’s too late to go anywhere else as that would mean more traffic lines; a longer wait at the next restaurant; then battling traffic on the return trip.
Worst of all is playing like the Indians circling the parking lot like they did the wagon trains, over and over again, looking for a parking space.
 You scan the tables and get a rude awakening by discovering that at least 65% of the people haven’t received their food yet.
Practically brain dead, you wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Finally, you get to sit down.  Your waitress is excellent.  She brings you a glass of water and before she can give you a menu, the manager tells her to take her break.  In the next 10 minutes, seemingly twenty people pass your table, none of them being the waitress taking care of your section.  Once again, however, the miracle occurs and you get to order and eat.  Then the miracle ends.  You spend another 20 minutes waiting to pay so you can get out of there and you set your bags down to give your arms a rest without noticing someone has spilled a drink and no one has cleaned it up.
At last, you pay the bill and make a mad dash out of there to the car to put the packages in the trunk.  Except -- the bag that was sitting in the spilled drink rips and your purchases fall out, white blouse first so that the wet spot soaks up the oil residues on the ground and is immediately ruined with little to no chance of returning it or getting it cleaned.
Oh yes, how I remember the joys of Christmas shopping and the cheery, merry way we feel towards one another at those precious moments.

Merry Christmas and Happy Shopping!

Chelle Munroe©
December 24, 2013

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