How to Survive Winter Shopping
We've all heard the clichéd saying about boys' hearts
in spring; but there are few, if any, poetic sayings linking the
winter months with mall-crazed teenage girls. There must be reasons
besides blatant sexism, but I can't think of too many. Then again,
it may be because spring love invokes thoughts of pretty pink
roses and bluebirds, while winter shopping tends to direct my
mind towards catfights, ripped merchandise, and out-and-out riots.
Or it could be that all those would be slogan-writers are shopping,
ripping, and shrieking alongside me. Regardless of why no one
has immortalized the hell of winter shopping as of yet, there
are several tactics one should familiarize oneself with before
venturing out into the hot, crowded inferno otherwise known as
"Garden State Plaza."
1. Never, ever shop alone. Parents lecture about kidnappers and
sexual predators, but we, the intrepid shoppers, know that nothing
is more frightening than being locked in a cold dressing room
with improperly sized apparel and no salesperson within shouting
distance. You can avoid being in this situation by either schlepping
along a friend or by taking three sizes of each item into the
dressing room. I tend to choose the former arrangement, but only
because the average shopper cannot carry eighty-five pounds of
fabric while simultaneously practicing their tae bo skills on
their competition for the fitting rooms.
2. Bring a check list and a pen There is nothing worse than wandering
among stores, finding the perfect gift or two, and promptly forgetting
who and what you are shopping for. This can be solved by bringing
a checklist of what to buy and a handy-dandy pen to mark what
you have already purchased. The added bonus of bringing a pen
is that you can give all those obnoxiously slow walkers a friendly
little jab, motivating them to get out of your way.
3. Bring a walkman, speakers optional As much as we all love
"Frosty the Snowman," "Jingle Bell Rock," and the rest of those
crazy holiday tunes, they can be played in excess. In fact, forty
seven repetitions of just about any song will drive any sane person
to the brink of insanity and quickly throw her over the edge.
Why force yourself to listen to those insipid little ditties when
you could be hearing the soothing sounds of The Backstreet Boys,
Kid Rock, or even Rush Limbaugh, for all that it matters? There
is no need to add to the immense amount of stress already present,
and if you get stuck on too long of a line, you simply plug in
your speakers and blast some BSB. Ten seconds, tops, and you're
at the head of the line, guaranteed.
4. Never pay with a credit card With the huge amount of presents
that must be bought over the holiday season, it seems much easier
to be able to simply swipe a plastic card for all of them, never
worrying about pennies and exact change. This, however, is completely
wrong. It is just as easy, if not easier, to pay with cash. Credit
cards are the devil emblazoned in plastic and should be used only
in extreme cases. They are time consuming and money munching and
you should steer clear of them at all costs. Especially, and this
is a point that must be stressed, especially, when you are in
front of me in line and insist on charging a pack of gum to your
credit card. This practice is ridiculous and must be stopped at
all costs, and quickly, because I'm planning a mall trip soon
and if you are there, charging some Double Mint right in front
of me, there is going to be a minor riot that you do not want
to be involved with.
5. Always bring a cell phone When newspapers have headlines such
as, "Baby Saves Mother With Use of Cell Phone," and "Rabid Raccoon
Steps on Cell Phone and Miraculously Calls 911 After Biting Child
of Three," people tend to overlook the minor disasters averted
by these miracle phones daily. Just last week, I was wandering
aimlessly about the mall, completely lost, separated from my mother,
and on the verge of separating from my sanity. As I was readying
myself for a little bit of crowd diving onto the floor below,
my phone rang. I fumbled through my bag, frantically clicked the
receive button, hugged the phone against my ear and listened.
Seconds later, I clicked the power button off and strode into
the milling crowds. Had my mother contacted me? Was I the new
owner of shiny, red convertible? No, even better, my friend, my
savior, had alerted me to a sale in American Eagle and once again,
my life had purpose.
While the above shopping tips'n tricks will not save you from
all possible mall disasters, they will certainly help you avert
the main ones. Be warned, fellow shoppers, for the mall is a large
place and holds many things, both good and bad. It is up to you
to decide which is which and how to deal with them. Good luck,
and who knows, maybe we'll run into each other at the mall. And,
for your sake, I hope it's not at a sale rack.