Why I never go shopping (unless I have to)

There is apparently something wrong with me. Unlike 99.9% of women on the face of the planet, I abhor shopping. I don’t have millions of pairs of shoes (I think I have four that I wear on a regular basis — black sneakers, a pair of flip-flops, and then brown or black heels for dressier outfits). I have two pairs of jeans and I almost never wear jewelry. My bathroom’s linen closet practically has the entire shampoo, conditioner, and body wash aisle from Walgreen’s in it — albeit in half-full bottles, because I almost never throw them away. I don’t even like shopping for food, and tend to put it off until I absolutely have to. I get furious at food that spoils quickly, like milk, because then I have to go to the store and buy more.

I hate the mall all year. I don’t understand how women can go into shoe stores and look at seemingly every single pair of shoes in the entire place. Do they not have any idea of what they’re looking for? I also can’t understand the clothing thing. I don’t go shopping with my girlfriends because I just can’t do it. I don’t spend more than ten minutes in a store. I walk in, look around for a few minutes, and if I don’t see anything I like, I walk out.

If I go shopping with my girlfriends, I get impatient and slightly crazy. They’ll look through every. single. rack. They shift through outfit after outfit, humming and hawing over them when really, they all look pretty much exactly the same (at least to me). After over an hour of this (in one store!), during which I’m contemplating which object in the store can be best served with which to kill myself and be put out of my misery (a scarf? a coat hanger? what?!?), they finally pick out approximately 37 items and have to try each and every one on. And when they try them on, they have to waltz out of the dressing room for each and every item, preen in front of the mirror, turn around and say, “Cassy, how does this look?”, preen in front of the mirror some more, ask me if they look fat in it, preen in front of the mirror some more again, and then finally decide they can’t get it because it’s too big/too small/makes them look fat/makes their boobs look too small/too expensive/the wrong fabric/the wrong cut/whatever other reason they can come up with. After another hour and a half of this routine for all 37 items, they’ll then exit the dressing room with possibly 2 shirts and say they’re ready to go the next store. At this point, I’m shooting them the death ray eyes. After repeating this routine in the next fifteen clothing stores, not to mention all the lingerie stores, every shoe store, and the various perfume and makeup stores, anger and impatience have abated. I’m practically in a catatonic state by then, just going through the motions and praying God, please, let lightning strike me right now and put me out of my misery.

This is why I almost always go shopping alone.

Combine that hatred for shopping with Christmas shopping (and shoppers!), and it’s a deadly combination. I dread it every year.

The problem is that I genuinely enjoy giving gifts to people. I love picking something out, and I love giving it to them. I get more excited about giving the gifts than I am about receiving my own. When I know it’s something that they really want, or will really enjoy, I get even more excited. So going Christmas shopping is just something I really can’t avoid. And if you think that the hatred for regular shopping is bad, shopping during the holidays always leaves me with the feeling later that it’s a miracle I didn’t suffer a heart attack from the elevated stress levels and blood pressure, even at 23. I never say anything to anyone — I don’t get rude or mean or anything. But pretty much as soon as I get in my car, I explode. I want to get as far away from a mall as is humanly possible and sit by myself, with no other people around, and just unwind.

One major problem is that Christmas shopping seems to bring out the absolute worst in people. They’re rude. They’re pushy. They’re oblivious that there are other people anywhere within a ten-mile vicinity. They are the only people in this mall with family and friends to buy gifts for, and therefore, are entitled to behave any way they choose, no matter how horrible. It’s like the area of your brain that controls common sense, courtesy, and decency towards others automatically shuts down when you enter a mall during the Christmas season. Then there are the employees. I’ve worked retail, and during the holiday season too, so I can understand. And of course, there are some really great, charming, helpful people. But there are also those salespeople who quite obviously hate their job, and do nothing to hide it.

There’s also the driving — it’s as if every single person in the mall parking lot fancies themselves a NASCAR driver, and everything they learned in Driver’s Ed gets thrown out the window.

And the various people you encounter while shopping at the mall during the Christmas season make me want to beat my head against a wall.

There are the grazers: the people who slowly meander their way throughout the entire store with no purpose whatsoever, usually bringing with them a shopping cart and/or an entourage of every single person they’ve ever known in their entire life, making sure to get in the way as much as humanly possible. They block aisles, stand right in front of whatever product you just happen to need at that moment, and pretend not to notice you politely saying “Excuse me?”. You end up having to contort yourself into some strange and uncomfortable position to reach around them, and when you do, they’ll shoot you a dirty look, mutter something about how rude people are, and then slowly graze onto the next display or shelf.

There are the deal-chasers: the people who think that the most important thing in the world is getting the best possible deal on the planet. They’ll trample you, cut you off mid-aisle, bumrush the shelf, and possibly take the merchandise right out of your hand — all to save a lousy $0.30 on an item that’s probably somewhere around $89.99. They’re willing to fight for that deal, too. They’ll get in your face; they’ll push and they’ll shove. They have no dignity and no shame, and they don’t care about how rude they have to be to save that $0.30.

There are the social shoppers: the people who take an entire group of friends shopping just “for fun” on the busiest time of the year, and seem to enjoy walking five or six people deep, all the way across the walkway, as slowly as possible as to block the way of everyone else in the mall and force them to walk as slowly and leisurely as they are. They seem to have no concern for the fact that not everyone in the mall has no schedule to follow whatsoever, and usually have things to do and places to be. They probably won’t do anything but window-shop, either.

Then you’ve got the people like me — people who just want to get in and out as quickly as possible, and hopefully unscathed, as well. I don’t want to get in anyone’s way. I’m not necessarily looking to get a hot deal (although I don’t want to overpay, either). I just want to get my presents and go home. Newscasters are bemoaning how shopping rates are down this holiday season, but perhaps it’s because there’s a lot of people like me who simply hate having to deal with the hassle. It’s why I never go shopping unless I absolutely have to.

Is Christmas supposed to be like this? People flocking to area malls, forgetting all commom decency and dignity in order to get the best deal, or make sure they’ve seen every trinket on every shelf of every store? Would it be so hard for us to show some courtesy to each other during the holidays? Why don’t we try that one out — actually remembering there are other people that want to buy presents for their loved ones as well, and trying to be courteous and polite to each other as we navigate economically dangerous terrain?

McCain, Drudge, and the NYT
The American Imperative