So this one Mother starts her journey down the first isle.“Mom, I want that?” Says the well mannered 5 year old.
“Yeah mom....pleeeeease!” Retorts the amazingly understanding 6 year old.
“No, sweeties. We have food at home and it's close to Christmas time so you don't need that toy!”
Of course, the mom's says this in the most pleasant of voices in order to keep up her 'good mother' appeal to the surrounding public. Who, by the way, have nothing better to do than watch this poor lady shop with her annoying kids, while they themselves 'patiently' wait to shuffle their feet one customer closer to the cashier. It seems faint mummers of ' good grief' and 'finally' seem to be the added lyrics to jingle bells. Anyway, so this poor woman tells her kids nicely...'no'. Well, her kids in the first place seem to suffer from a serious case of A.D.D. as well as amnesia. From that point on it was a constant 'ooh, I see something shiny and I want mom to buy it for me but I forget what she just said' syndrome. “Can I have that?”
“What about this Mom?”
I believe this is a prime example of why the check-outs span about 5-10 isles. That way, curious, disgruntled Christmas shoppers can kindly focus their attention on someone else's 'Amazing Christmas Shopping Adventure of 'insert year here'. Rather than their sore knees, tired eyes and impatient anger stew that is slowly but surely being prepared and cooked with every distant scan beep. And, by the time the poor woman comes to join the line she is sadly deemed a 'poor mother' due to the inevitable mental meltdown she experienced in the cheese isle. Her stew was brewed and served but her carnivorous little seedlings are still hungry so she gets to cook it again in line.
So let's say you are the single shopper. Great mood, no kids, no husband, no plans, no deadline except the store closing, a list and no prior back-ground of mental breakdowns, panic attacks or depression. Yes, that exists. You are probably wondering how you too can join in the 'joy' of Christmas frustration?? Well, here are some step by step instructions on how to be the cause of it. From there, you may be able to determine whether you can join the frustrated side or whether you are the cause.
- Step Two: Finding a suitable location to park. As you pull into the parking lot of your selected destination, don't park right away. A parking stall farther than 2 rows away and 5 stalls down is too far to park and may result in walking which might lessen the size of your butt. While completing this step, make sure to stop in the middle of traffic forgetting to put on your signal light and please do not turn it on until someone has honked. After that stage is complete continue your turn but stop so the back end of your car is sticking into the main traffic lane and wait for a car to pull out of one of the ideal stalls. Once that is completed, please pull into your stall and make sure it takes about 2 sets of alternating between reverse and drive. Once complete continue to Step 3.
- Step Three: As you walk into the store find a kart, push it back into the second automatic front doors or any main high traffic area just entering the store and stop. At this point, I would like you to take off your jacket, fold it neatly and place it over the edge of your kart. Make sure to apologize to the frazzled people who will be pushing past and pay no mind to the helpful suggestions of getting out of the way. Now you are ready, to move to step 4. Just before you do though, rustle through your wallet and get your list, you will need this.
- Now, make your way down the isles that you need to fill your list. While doing this, push your kart in the middle of the isle, the 'blocking' technique. Whenever you can, find someone who seems to be looking for a certain kind of something and stand in front of them, very close to the shelf, this is called the 'pondering sigh' technique. Then move either hand up to your chin, drop left hip down, kick the same foot out as you let out a pondering sigh. Now this step is a bit risky but when done correctly should not bother you. The person will either scoff, grumble or ask you to move but pay no mind. If the person does push past you to grab their item. Make sure to remember your manners and apologize.
- Step 5 is all about people watching. In this step, you should have what you need on your list, but still think you need something. So I am going to suggest that you slow down your gait, let the hips sway, lean on your kart or shuffle your feet and stop frequently. Make some stops to look at something closer and others to do nothing but look in the distance, which is called the 'far off stare' technique. Once you do this, find people who match the following descriptions:
- The Rushed Shopper – These are people who come into the store as if they are hurrying to extinguish a fire. Now, don't be alarmed, there is no immediate danger and you do not need to worry. You will get the most reaction out of these shoppers. They will be short in temper, short in conversation and definitely short of patience but could be tall in height. Don't be deceived. Make sure to use the 'far off stare' technique, as the rushed shopper loves it.
- The Prepared Shopper – These know what they're looking for and usually have a specific brand they regularly buy. The prepared shopper is easy to find. Usually have a kart or basket, a pen, and some sort of writing surface. Eg: A day timer, small lined paper book or now a days, a cellphone. If the cellphone is present, the pen will probably be non-existent. Use the 'pondering sigh' technique with these shoppers, nothing elates them more than blocking what they are specifically looking for.
- The Unprepared Shopper – Easy to spot but harder to bug. For these, look for people with no list that seem to know the 'frequent stop' technique. Don't be fooled...they aren't practicing. These types of shoppers, don't know what they are looking for. They may look like the prepared shopper but the list they have will be empty except for names. They usually know who they are buying for but not what they are getting. The best way to determine which category of shopper they are. Get close. Follow what they are doing and try to sneak glances at the list. Ignore the looks they may give, it is important to look oblivious. Once you determine that they are, in fact, the unprepared shopper, be sure to keep close. Every so often do the 'pondering sigh technique' but make sure to switch up techniques with this one. They can be smart, not usually rushed but as long as you circulate the methods, you will do fine. You can even try the 'sporadic question' technique which is simply asking the shopper where something obvious is. Eg: While in the pickle isle, once you're passed the selection of pickles, make sure to ask where they are. You can carry out this technique in the same isle or the next. But if the method is used in the next isle, please use the 'pondering sigh technique' in front of the pickles first. The 'sporadic question' method can be used with any product and any shopper. Just make sure to change shoppers after a couple uses as you may get creepy.
- The Talented Shopper – This can be a variation of different shoppers. Any one of the above still smiling is classified into this category. If someone is whistling while shopping, they are on a day pass or shopping for condoms. Either or, they need your help. Other talented shoppers can be : Mothers with kids who are quiet, young people just passing time and think the store is the most exciting thing ever or anyone with a hop in their skip, skip in their jump or a pep in their step. All techniques can be used but aren't very efficient. The talented shopper probably has only a couple things to pick up, nothing at all to pick up, may be a gold star / awarding winning parent with a great job and a great life. It is hard to squash but definitely do-able. Make note of this person and proceed to Step 6.
In this step, it is time to go pay. Proceed with your kart to the check-out area. Be sure to delay choosing a line as if it were the hardest decision of your life. There are a lot of factors to consider first. Check for the names on the cashiers name tags if you can see them. You will want to choose the one with the first name of 'Trainee'. It's a brilliant name meaning slow and new in common English. If name tags are not visible. Stop in the busiest spot and calculate the person to cashier speed ratio. If you are not mathematically inclined, this process can be carried out by blankly staring at each line in no particular order. Then a selection can be made. Do not base this selection on the conclusion of the ratio. As the ratio changes.
Now, before selecting your line, recollect back to your Talented Shopper victim. If you had spotted one, wait for them to be coming towards a check-out. The talented shoppers are hard to snag but bring the best reward. Try to match their inertia and get the line just in front of them.
The rest of this step is the same, whether you have a 'victim' behind or not. They will all become one. Now, place your items slowly onto the conveyor when you get there. If it takes a while to reach, loop exhausted comments. Eg: 'man, this day will take forever', 'Oh my, goodness, really?', 'Did you know Trainee means slow in English?' or simply just hum and haw and complain about aches. Once all of your stuff is loaded onto the conveyor belt and the cashier starts ringing in your items. Stand perfectly still by the available separator bar and do not place it out for the next person. Pick up a magazine or look closer at something and remember to be oblivious! The person behind will then have to wait extra long to put their stuff out because 'heaven forbid' it touches yours. From this point you have options. Please choose one or more of the following:
- Chat up the Employee. Find out as much about his/her life as you can. The key here is question after question after question. This method usually works best on those willing to talk. Sometimes the job is done for you. They ask you question after question. Your job then is to answer and continue to ask 'and you?'.
- Use Coupons. Ideally have them still attached to the flyer and start to rip them out as slow and accurately as possible. Make sure the 'wall of sound' is pointed towards the line-up for full effect but do not make eye contact.
- Cause a Price Check. There are a couple ways to do this. First, watch the items being scanned and claim one scanned in at the wrong price. Second, you can act confused as if an item was more expensive than you thought. Or simply, rip the corner of the bar code before you get to this step.
- Cancel an Item. Decide after the item has been scanned, and preferably after bagging, that you no longer require it. You can either do it right away or wait until the final total is displayed then sift through the bags to choose an item. This option may require the employee to get assistance from a manager to refund it. You can also make your selection a perishable item, which will cause the employee to have to call some one else to pick it up right away.
Now pay. There are many ways of doing this, but to be most annoying, pay with un-rolled small change. No matter how much you have to pay, this method is the most effective. Others you can use are split payments whether it is between cash/debit, cash/credit, debit/credit and my personal favorite gift card/cash/debit. But a mix of any or all is perfectly fine. If one method of payment is only available and you don't have any small change. Drop whatever you're paying with and 'struggle' to retain it. Anything to pass time. Also, if you were fortunate enough to get the 'Trainee', you will only be helping them learn.
You are now ready to leave the store. Step 7 is simple. Stop in the most high traffic area. Preferably just passed the first automatic doors and on a slight angle. This is the point where you take time to decide to ditch the kart or not, find your keys, put away any left over money, put on and zip up jackets or just doddle. Recite the alphabet in your head for lack of anything better to do and move to Step 8.
- Step 8: Return to your vehicle. Take a long time to unload your kart as you have a prime parking stall and will probably be the prey for most people pulling in as well as the ones practicing these instructions. For added spice, if you see a vehicle that seems to be waiting, drop a bag and struggle to gather the contents. Once in your car, start it and make sure to sit contently for a while. Fiddle with the radio, count change, don't really care just look busy. Now the fun part is backing out. Put your car in reverse and sit. If there is a person waiting for you to back out do this slowly. Pretend you have a semi with two trailers and there is no extra room. Back up slightly then go forward. Then back. You get the idea. Wedge yourself out of the space. Once out, make sure to wave and smile! The 'back-up' method is best executed by females, elders or foreigners driving small cars.
After reading through these steps. I have successfully demonstrated how to be a Christmas d-bag, an oblivious holiday shopping zombie or completely unskilled in the art of compassion and/or intelligence. There is two steps in the rules for joining the Christmas Shopper Frustration Group of the World.
First, you must ask yourself, “Do I unwillingly practice any or all of the methods used to cause frustration examined in detail above?” If your answer is 'yes', depending on your beliefs, please kindly join the Paleolithic Era and try to evolve again or lock yourself in the house and prey every night to grow a brain. On the other hand, if you said 'no', please refer to the next paragraph.
~ Simply be behind, beside or in front of any of the people outlined above and you will be adding your own choice words to our Christmas carols and become one of the many disgruntled shoppers. ~
Merry Christmas and Happy Shopping.