It is a little silly the lengths to which I will go to avoid getting stuck in a pre-Christmas crowd.
The reality is that I don’t fear crowds. I just don’t happen to like what happens to certain people trapped in their hot parkas for too long, among dozens of other people trapped in their hot parkas for too long. It creates a bit of a pressure cooker effect that raises blood pressures and potentially spills over into an eruption of strong negative emotions.
When you add to the mix the ticking clock of Christmas approaching and stock flying off the shelf, it’s that wild card of not knowing when you might get caught in the crossfire of people whose attitude would get them a permanent placement (with glittering gold stars) on Santa’s naughty list, and a free gift card for anger management training.
Despite buying my first presents in August, making about a hundred lists and checking them twice, and stocking up on anything and everything that doesn’t go bad to reduce my number of store visits in December, there are still things that need to be bought at the last minute for the sake of freshness. I accept that.
But to minimize my exposure to people whose tempers need tempering requires strategy, problem-solving skills and a strong Internet connection. Not only does it demand shopping at off-peak times, but around here it also means dodging snowstorms, freezing rain and Ottawa Senators game night traffic.
To calculate the logistics of this early morning weekend run, it starts with a chart of the last minute items, the location of where I expect to find them, and Google searches to verify at what time each store opens.
I’ll then rearrange the order chronologically to try to be at each stop shortly after they open, to zip in and out before the crowds begin, and before the parking lots turn into inescapable mazes of vehicles parked in improvised spots. Continue reading
This past Friday, on my way home from work, I decided to check out a nearby department store to see if they had any stock left for a couple of items I use, which I had seen in their most recent Black Friday flyer at really attractive prices.
I also wanted to look for a few items on my Christmas gift list, which I cannot divulge at the moment as this is classified information between me and the North Pole.
On my arrival, a man bumped into me, trying to exit through the “in” door with a panic-stricken look on his face, as he ushered his son ahead of him. I could have sworn he mouthed the words “don’t do it”, but I thought to myself that I must have imagined it. But being the polite Canadians we are, we both excused ourselves, even though I clearly had the right of way.
Ten feet into the store, I understood the gentleman’s escape route.
I had never seen the store this busy before. Some people were clustered together, blocking the aisles, as they scrutinized their flyer while pointing to empty shelves, to the ire of others trying to whizz by with full shopping carts on their way to the checkout line. I could hear babies crying, young children whining and adults barking at each other. When combined with the aromatic combination of seasonal scented candles, ladies’ perfumes and snow tires, I was heading into sensory overload. Continue reading
A couple of years ago, in the blog post “The Christmas Trees of August”, I poked fun at the retail sector and how stores seem to be putting out seasonal merchandise earlier and earlier each year.
It is funny how times change.
Here we are, two short years later, and I am finding myself seriously venturing out to Christmas shop earlier and earlier with each passing year.
At the best of times throughout the year, I rarely shop on Saturday afternoons. But in the last weeks approaching Christmas, I also avoid shopping on Saturday mornings as the stores and parking lots get far too busy for me. Then a week later, I will drop Sunday as a possible shopping day. Then a week later, Friday evenings are off the list. A week after that, Thursday evenings are eliminated.
When I only have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings to get my shopping done, there are only so many hours to accomplish that.
Then add to the mix the wildcard of snowstorms or freezing rain that can strike at any moment. If they do, some of those prime shopping days can unexpectedly disappear.
What does one do in light of this weird Christmas shopping algorithm?… I started shopping earlier.
I seem to have a romantic notion of Christmas shopping being a fun activity. Continue reading
With school back in session, so begins a new season of the commuting reality show “Backpack Head Whack”.
Does this ever happen to you?:
– You are on an elevator; the elevator gets to your floor; the doors open and before you have a chance to take a step out of the elevator cab, someone storms in, essentially blocking your path.
– Your bus or subway car is overflowing with passengers and approaching your stop. You get up and make your way through the crowd to the door. Near the door, a passenger wearing headphones does not respond to your polite “excuse me”, so you gently tap them on the shoulder to indicate you’d like to get through, only to be met with the “death stare”.
– On a sidewalk or an escalator you find yourself behind a group of people who are side-by-side-by-side, blocking the entire width of the path and leaving no way to get around them.
When I was a kid, I vividly recall the “village” that raised me (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and babysitters) said things like a gentle “tasse-toi” (step aside), “laisse le monsieur passer” (let the man go by) and sometimes a quickly articulated “Woosh woosh” which was a catch-all that would mean the same as above in addition to “Go!”, “Do it!” and “Hurry up!”
They all spent a fair bit of time trying to reinforce the concept of spatial contextual awareness since I was sometimes deep in my own imaginary world. However, I would like to think that through lessons like this, they did a good job in helping me grow up to be a polite and courteous member of society. But what has happened to contextual awareness?
Just a few days ago, Continue reading