Friday, March 06, 2009

Retail Hell

An intolerant observation of our shopping centers ...

Every time I chance upon a day off, I try to squeeze in some retail time. Not because I love shopping. Quite the contrary, in fact. But because, honestly, unless it sorta "happens"(like a day off during the week), I almost never purposefully go out shopping. I shop for groceries twice a month, and for some "oops, I forgot that"-s maybe once a week. But to consciously plan a weekend or a day for just shopping - now, that's foreign territory to me.

But every once in a while, I'd take a day off from ... life, and I have to fill it up with "something", and it's usually to catch up on belated birthday presents, and name day presents, and refresh my worn-out wardrobe with items on sale, hopefully.

But it's on days like yesterday, when shopping kind of "happens", that I am reminded WHY I hate shopping. All sorts of mishaps in the retail world that test my very little patience is why! And when I say "very little", I mean, almost non-existent.

It started with the bagel shop in the morning. I ordered an asiago parmesan bagel, not toasted, with lite veggie cream cheese. I was coming from some lab work, for which I had to "fast", and I was starved, at 10 AM when I hit the store. To my surprise, when, I unwrapped the sandwich, I found a plain bagel, toasted, with melting butter on it. Nothing to ruin your day like the wrong order to hit your taste buds - almost! Now, how can you mess up THAT bad??

The only more frustrating thing than a mess-up was ... that there were just two customers at the time in the store. Two! Me, and another one. Somehow, they handed us the other one's sandwhich... I at least ordered mine in, and not had to drive away, and find out I got the wrong order at the second light, like the other person did! There is something to be said for not being in a rush, I guess.

Then, I headed to Wal-Mart (I know, you cringe), for my twice-a-month big grocery run. It was empty, which is something I am not quite used to, and most of everything I needed was on the shelves, which is, again, a rarity. So, I was chipper throughout the shopping part. But Wal-Mart will make sure it's crap, and remind you of that, even if just on your way out: when I was checking out, my poufy-loofa-kinda-cleaning- ball-thingie would not ring on the scanner. The attendant at the scanner promptly grabbed the poufy-loofa-kinda-cleaning- ball- thingie out of my hand, and told me: "It's not ringing. It's not in the system!". Just like that: "Not in the system". Period. Done. She just put it on her counter, and was sucking on lollipop. It was not like she was calling someone for help. The God of Wal-Mart scanners, maybe?? It was not like she was busy, either - remember the store was empty, and I was the only customer at the time, at the self-check area. Just me.

I scanned the rest of my order, all 40 other items, I told her the price was $0.94, but she was patiently sucking away ... while I was waiting; making eye contact, and trying to convey, that "hey, you've got my merchandise, just punch in the price, and give it to me, genius!!" ... I finally rang my total. Paid. My poufy-loofa-kinda-cleaning- ball- thingie was still on her desk, and she was still sucking, and as I was wheeling the cart away, she didn't as much as make eye contact with me... Hhmmm... I guess I was not going to buy the poufy-loofa-kinda-cleaning- ball- thingie yesterday! That's for damn sure!

I went baby clothes shopping next, to various stores, more high end than others, and I ran into an issue of baby sexism, I guess: there are tons of princess dresses for toddler baby girls! You can dress you baby girl up to look like she's about to go to The Prom, or her Oscar party. Satin dresses and tulle, in any shape, color, and size, for babies between 6 months to ... 4 years! No tuxes counterparts for baby boys, though. The boys have to look like preppy Oxford grads: light denim beige pants, button down shirts and vests! That's it, for boys! And then the poor fools grow up and hear us give them crap that they're not dressed properly when they show up at our sister's wedding! Well, HOW can they learn, when our retail world dooms them to preppy instead of elegant?!

Then, I hit the bookstore. That's always a source of bitter, sarcastic notices for me, because I notice books! And I do shop for books! Now, that's a retail store I would go into more than twice a year. More than twice a week, sometimes, in fact. So, I am picky there!

Some of the marketing practices there make me wonder ...
For instance I don't believe that Southern writers get it: if you keep putting little girls looking like children in the 50's, with home made dresses on, falling out of the sky and calling it a memoir, the trick is only going to work so many times! You keep doing that, and people (me) are going to say ... "oh, another one of those tearjerker trailer trash books".... Yeah. No! Too obvious of a marketing gimmick, dude! That only tells me you're copying another best seller, and you've got nothing new to offer. It doesn't make me buy you! Rethink!

Then, to the Barnes & Noble staff: if you're going to put books that have the "bargain $4.98" sticker on the front slapped on them, please don't put them under the section "New Arrivals"! "New arrivals" are supposed to be exciting new books, we have never heard of, but are interesting and worth looking at, and worth buying, not has-been-s which are not selling. Again: rethink!

And finally, I've got two new driving laws for ya: if you're a retiree, or a soccer mom, you have no business being on the road in rush hour! None! I wish they made a law for that! These folks have nowhere to be, and no rush to get anywhere. They're taking their ol' good time, on a two lane - two way street, and that should just be illegal! If you're retired, or a stay-at-home mom, get your slow a** vehicle on the road after 10 AM, after 6 PM, and stay off the roads at lunchtime!

Also, in shopping centers: no soccer moms stalling traffic while trying to figure out who has non-poisonous peanut butter for the drooling toddler for lunch! You're a soccer mom who treats the road as their own driveway - you have no business eating out for lunch! Zero! You want to take your own time, then since you're at home ALL day long, can you make yourself useful for once and make a sandwich, please???!!! And yes, invite all the other soccer moms that you're trying to meet at Friendly Shopping Center over, and share the sandwiches with them! You all should take turns in doing that. It's fun. Trust me!!

That was my day off, in the retail ... hhmmm... heaven of Greensboro... yesterday.

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