Going into a shopping mall at this time of the year, is akin to living in a zoo.
First of all, the parking lots alone turn us into stalkers. One glance at an overfilled parking lot tells you that you HAVE to become a “Parking Lot Stalker”. Following people out of the mall, zig-zagging your way up and down rows until you figure out which car is theirs and try like mad to get your blinkers on to show that YOU intend on taking that parking space once the existing car has left. Yes, that works, but only if you don’t have another impatient “stalker” who comes in from the other direction and figures that should be theirs! The war then begins as both cars creep closer and closer, trying to “claim” that one spot. As both cars engage in the “creeping in war”, the car attempting to leave, finds that they are completely blocked in and cannot move so, everything comes down to a total “stand-off” and no one goes anywhere. It’s at this point that everyone quickly finds their power window buttons and starts shouting. Merry Christmas is not one of the phrases coming out of any of the participants’ mouths! That, I can assure!
Once a parking spot is found, or in some cases, “created” out of a non-parking area, the trek towards the mall begins. That is usually about a 5 minute walk, dodging other cars also doing the same that you’ve just done and taking your life quite literally into your hands.
Through the front doors, awaits a “Wonderland For Looney Toons”. Yes, it is the dreaded “Mall Crowds”. Every square inch of the mall flooring taken up and if you happen to get on the wrong side of the mall….the one that’s supposed to be flowing in one direction and you’re heading the other well, good luck to you buddy! You’re going to be like a salmon swimming upstream. DUCK! Don’t malls work like roadways? Stay to the right and you’re going in the right direction? Apparently not. Most times, you do become that salmon. Sometimes, you make it, sometimes you don’t and end up being aimlessly swept back with the current, ending up where you first began.
Once you manage to hit the store that you’ve been trying to get to for the past half hour, find what you’re looking for, there will inevitably be a store employee that is not as well versed in store policies as they should be. Usually, they are in their late teens, or early 20’s and will call someone twice their age, “Hun”! Nothing irks me more than the smug faces that they have on as they try to tell you that their return policies remain the same even during the Christmas Season. The conversation goes something like this:
Me: This is a Christmas gift. What is your exchange/refund policy on returns for Christmas gifts?
Cherry Faced Clerk: It’s the same as our regular policy. 14 days exchange only, tags attached, bill. No refunds, credit note only.
Me: I understand your “regular return policy” but, this is November and Christmas is December 25th. Fourteen days would not cover exchange after Christmas. The store MUST have a specialized return policy for this time of the year if I ask for a “Gift Receipt”.
CFC: Uhhhhmmmmmm………NO, Hun.
Me: Wait……let me ask this again. It’s Christmas shopping time. Am I supposed to wait until December 24th to do my shopping so that IF there is a problem with a size, or color or the person plain and simply doesn’t like my wonderful tastes, it cannot be returned and exchanged because I’m buying it in November? Isn’t that the reason why Christmas Carols are being piped in throughout the store? Isn’t the store TRYING to impart the “Christmas Spirit” so that we’ll all shop here for CHRISTMAS GIFTS NOW????
CFC: Sorry, Hun……I don’t make the rules. That’s the way that it is.
Me: Is there a manager available?
CFC: Uhhhhh…….yup, but she’s busy, Hun.
Me: I’ll wait!
TAP, TAP, TAP, TAP, FIDGET, SIGH……..that’s me, waiting for “the Manager”
Manager: (another 20 something year old who loves to call people more than twice her age….DEAR!) What can I do for you?
Me: I want to purchase a Christmas Gift NOW, TODAY but, I need to know if it can be exchanged after Christmas and I’ve been told that there is only the “regular return policy” in effect. Does that mean that I have to shop elsewhere?
Manager: Well, DEAR……our normal return policy is 14 days after purchase.
Me: (now, ready to throw everything I have in my arms on the floor and walk out)
I UNDERSTAND your “REGULAR RETURN POLICY”…….I’m asking about your CHRISTMAS GIFT RETURN POLICY! Every other store in this city has a CHRISTMAS GIFT RETURN POLICY STARTING AS OF THE BEGINNING OF NOVEMBER! WHAT IS YOURS?
Manager: I’ll have to check, DEAR.
(A phonecall is made, then another and yet another!)
Manager (returning to desk): Uh, yes, it seems that we DO have a return policy for Christmas Gifts. It’s 14 days after Christmas IF it is signed by a clerk as a “Christmas Gift”.
Me: Ok, and could you do it please!
Manager: Oh, I don’t do that type of thing. You’ll have to ask one of the clerks, DEAR.
Me: (now totally fuming, hot and ready to decapitate this little twirp) No, I want YOU to do this! Here is my purchase, please ring it through and YOU put your name and employee number on the back, or I’ll be in touch with your Head Office as of Monday morning.
“The Manager” mumbles something totally unintelligible under her breath and shoving aside one of the other pimple faced clerks to ring through my purchases.
By the time I am finished with this one set of purchases, I’m ready to leave the entire mall and go home to take up drinking! Pushing my way back through the crowds, I make it outside, only to hear four other fights breaking out in the parking lot. As I make my way back across the half hour trek to my car, I feel the bumpers of “The Parking Lot Stalkers” up my rear, waiting to see where I am going to grab MY parking space. Parcels in hand, under chin, in teeth and under arms, I serpentine my way back to my car, squeezing between rows of cars to throw “The Stalkers” off of my trail. Another set awaits as I exit from the other row.
By the time I’ve gotten to my car, there are at least 3 other cars, all battling for “position” and have me totally blocked in so that I cannot move. At this point, I’m beyond being “nice” and my “Merry Christmas” greeting is now sounding like a sailor in a drunken bar fight, telling them to “BACK OFF OR NO ONE GETS THE SPACE”. I watch as one, polite and RATIONAL person backs off, likely figuring that this is NOT worth it…..afterall, he was only going into the mall to get himself a new pair of socks!
With the adeptness of my 14 point turn, I manage to get the car out and head home to safety and sanity once again but, not without looking back to see the near bumper collisions and fisticuffs beginning over my empty parking space. Never have I felt so “wanted”!
Bottom line here is…..I will NOT be in ANY store after the beginning of December! I will be at home with my feet up, tea in hand, comfortable slippers on my feet, watching a good movie that I’ve popped into the DVD player. If this is November and that is the way things are now……I cannot imagine The December Crowds!
Merry Christmas to those who leave Christmas Shopping till last minute. I pity you. May you have your boxing gloves on, bone up on your swear words and please wear steel toed construction boots. You’re gonna need them!
And, to those young girls who think that calling everyone “Hun” and “Dear” no matter what the person’s age…I wish you good luck with us “older women” in about a month! No amount of padding can protect you then! Better have earplugs!