Monday, September 22, 2014

"The Worst Day Of My Life Shopping"

I like to drain the suspense from a story, so it can stand on its own, minus the artificial crutch of dramatic excitement.

Some people take pleasure in the generic activity of shopping, regardless of the outcome.  I like to buy things I need, and then take them home and use them.

Shopping without the consequence of actual acquisition?

It’s like going to a restaurant and not ordering any food.

“I enjoy the clatter of cutlery.”

Going to a bowling alley and not bowling.

“I like the camaraderie and the smell.”

You go to a ballgame and sit with your back to the field.

“The faces are more interesting than the action.”

You visit a hair salon, but you don’t get your hair cut.

“I am irresistibly intrigued by falling follicles.”

Do you buy any of those?  Or considerably funnier examples that did not come to mind?

I shop to acquire.  Anything else is… what happened to me recently.

We had a checklist.  Five items that we needed to procure.  And we did not get a one of them.  (So if you somehow missed the original “spoilers”, there goes another one.) 

The need for four of these items relate to our upcoming trip to Turkey.  The fifth one, well, it’s a little embarrassing so let me get it out of the way first, so I can sail through the rest of the blog post humiliation-free.  At least of the self-inflicted variety.

I have a CD-clock radio (that wakes me up to a CD-burned version of the sixties opening theme song to Hockey Night In Canada.  I’ll say it straight out:  I do not know how to alter the “alarm setting” on my CD-clock radio.  (It appears that I knew once but I forgot.)  I have also misplaced the Instruction Manual, so my only alternative is to get a new CD-clock radio that will, I would expect, include an Instruction Manual so I can learn to handle the “alarm setting” on that one.  (Note:  I have subsequently downloaded the “alarm setting” instructions for my current model of CD-clock radio.

Our first stop is at a Santa Monica travel store.  We are interested in three items we are hoping they carry – a collapsible “walking stick” (as our tour includes a three-hour “hike” and my right arch is already pre-emptively complaining), a battery-operated travel toothbrush, and a battery-operated electric shaver.  (We have already purchased a compatible Turkish plug, but there are iPhones, there are Kindles, there is, I don’t know, an electric tablet.  It would be good to have one less thing to have to plug in, rather than rotating four implements on a single plug.  Or take along one of those heavy multiple plug-strippy thingees.)

From her tone and attitude, it is evident that our saleswoman clearly despises the store she is working in.  (Which she subsequently reports is going out of business.)  Rather than promoting its diminishing – admittedly inadequate – inventory, she directs us instead – for every one of the three items we are looking for – to other stores where we can, in her opinion, “do better.” 

For “walking sticks”, try REI.  For travel toothbrushes, there’s Rite Aid, and for electric shavers, Target.  All of them, she assures us, are superior to this place.  That we are already standing in.  Though to no positive advantage to our shopping.

We drive to REI to look at walking sticks.  Too athletic and too expensive.  (They carry those tall poles Swedish refugees used to escape from the Nazis during the winter.  One thirty-nine, and not collapsible.  I doubt if you can even take them on the plane – a preventative against poking a pilot.)

We walk to a nearby Brookstone outlet – no battery-operated toothbrushes (“Try CVS.”), no battery-operated electric shavers.  (Again, “Try Target, of which there are none in our vicinity.)  And, adding insult to injury, we are dutifully informed – as you may already know – that they do not make CD-clock radios anymore.  People now wake up to their telephones. 

We are at this point, in baseball parlance, 0 for 4 with our shopping.  The final item on our as yet “unmarred by success” checklist:

Reading matter for the trip.

We head up to Barnes and Noble, a never-disappointing “reliable” for such purposes on our earlier vacations.

The truth is, I do not intend to buy any books at Barnes and Noble.  I am committed to using Kindle.  I just thought I would check out the books, writing the interesting titles down for subsequent ordering.

Somehow they knew.  And for the first time ever, there was not a single book of personal interest.  It’s like they read it in my face.

He’s not going to buy anything.”

And they deliberately hid everything I’d like.

We throw up our hands, surrendering to our failure.  (There was an outside possibility of a CD-clock radio at Radio Shack, but we passed, unable to endure any further disappointment.)

We get back in the car.


Five items on our checklist. 


Five items still on our checklist.

More than two hours of shopping.  And we had bought…


For some, hell is lapping flames and eternal damnation.

For me, it’s shopping for things I need and finding none of them.

With the looming prospect

Of having to go out and do it again.
Inquiry:  Do you have any reading suggestions?  I prefer historical non-fiction, but I shall accept anything you think I might enjoy.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

The original book on which the factual bits of MASTERS OF SEX is based, same title, is pretty interesting - actually, more so for me than the series - so that's relatively recent historical non-fiction. I actually liked - fiction, granted - the first HUNGER GAMES book and thought the way the author approached it was clever. ZEITOUN, by Dave Eggers, might be a bit harrowing - the story of the Muslim owner of a construction company owner in post-Katrina New Orleans - not so historical, but non-fiction. Finally - fiction - if you've never read Peter S. Beagle's novels, I think you'd really like them, particularly THE LAST UNICORN and A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE.


Gary said...

The Boys in the Boat. Just finished it. Superb non-fiction book. Read about it on Amazon. I believe I paid 2.99 for the Kindle edition. I usually read fiction - mysteries - but caught the author of Boys/Boat on a local talk show and it got my interest.

You shop like I used to. Now I scout everything out online before I step out of the house. And you're right about the phone - who needs a watch now? Unless of course, you've got the new Apple watch/computer!