Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Crabby Mom's Guide to Shopping Etiquette

It's the holiday season, which really means only one thing - shopping. As a public service, consider this my gift to you all, I'm going to give you a lesson in Shopping Etiquette. This information applies to malls, stand-alones...even grocery stores. Here's what you should and shouldn't do when you venture out into the weird, wild world of retail.

1. Obey traffic laws. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't run a red light. Well, you shouldn't. What this means is when you're in a mall, stay to the right. If you're window shopping, i.e. walking very slowly, stay WAY to the right. There are people out there power shopping. Get out of their way! If you're looking for your car keys, go up against a wall or in a corner and then you can plop your bags down and hunt through everything. Don't do it in the middle of the main walkways. And if you're in a grocery store, looking for that very special brand of virgin first pressed olive oil, move your cart to the right. Don't stand in the middle of an aisle gazing fondly at all the choices. Again, get the hell out of the way. Really.

2. Keep it moving. You're bound to run into someone you know and what better place to catch up on old acquaintances than at the mall or grocery store, right? WRONG! I don't care if it's your long-lost birth mother. Go to a Starbucks. Better yet, go home. Make a reservation and have dinner together. Just don't take up floor space when I need to find that one last teacher gift and you're standing in my way. I'm glad you found each other, now leave. Really.

3. Take your kids to the park. Look, I know that it's hard to keep toddlers entertained when it's cold outside. But they don't care if it's cold. Only you do and that's why there's a Starbucks on every corner. Take them to the park where you can commiserate with other moms about how behind you are on your Christmas errands. Listen people - read my lips: DON'T TAKE YOUR KIDS TO THE MALL. And if you do, I'm warning you, it will be the worst experience of the holiday season. They will be over-stimulated and under-supervised. I guarantee you - they'll have a meltdown in the middle of the mall and it will be when I need to get to the last Gap No-Sweat Vest. Don't blame me if your sweet little thing is within earshot of my f-bomb when she's sprawled on the floor having a tantrum. She, and you, deserved it.

4. Travel lightly. If you do ignore #3 and decide to venture to the mall, then for God's sake, leave the freakin' gigantic stroller at home. If your stroller is bigger than your guest bathroom, save it for Disney World. In a mall, it will be like that barge in New Jersey floating with garbage. It will annoy and offend people and be a pain in the ass to move. I'm serious about this.

5. Hang up or shut up. We all have cell phones and this subject has been done to death, but really, it's the most irritating during the shopping season. I believe in everyone's right to own a cell phone, but if you're going to use it while shopping, then don't be a moron. There are couches, benches, chairs and corners in every mall. Go find one and sit there and finish your call. Do NOT stand next to me and counsel your girlfriend on how to handle her teenager. Keep it short and keep it quiet. If your call will go long, step out of line and out of sight. If I wanted to hear your phone call, I'd follow you home and sit in your kitchen. I don't know you and I don't like you if I can hear anything you're saying on your cell phone. Don't flatter yourself thinking that you're impressing me with your business savvy while out and about. If you have to shout it into a cell phone, then you're obviously an idiot not in line for the CEO's job.

6. Don't be a slow neat-freak. I respect the fact that some people are insanely organized, but when it's crowded and there's a huge line at the checkout counter, that is NOT the time to balance your checkbook or straighten your wallet. Just shove it in your purse and move on. You can go home and record every last transaction till debits and credits dance in your head. If you're paid and done - move it! Don't use my time to check out as your time to snap your wallet, zipper your purse, put on your gloves, button your coat and refresh your makeup. Go! Now!

7. Keep it short. I think it's great when people can manage to be friendly during this sometimes stressful time. A smile and a quick comment are always welcome. Anything more than that is just wasting time. I'll bet you have tons of stories to share about how your holidays are coming along. Save it for your mother - don't tell the clerk at checkout because I need to pay for my purchases and go home. OK? Really.

8. Walk softly and carry some big manners. If it so happens that you have to do all of your shopping in one trip and therefore have many bags to carry. Watch where you're walking and remember the nice words like "excuse me" and "I'm sorry." I know you're going to bump into me. That's fine. Just apologize and move on. Don't, under any circumstances, run over me like a Sherman tank and pretend it wasn't you. You can't hide. You have 8 giant Pottery Barn bags hanging from each arm and your Birkenstocks just stepped on my fake Uggs. It's a crowded world people, so it's important that we're polite about it.

9. Buy now, ask later. We're all in a hurry and most of us are buying things that we're not totally sure about. If you're checking out, that's NOT the time to ask about the features of a product. It's the time to buy. If you've wormed your way to the checkout, then just buy the damn thing. That's what gift receipts are for people. Don't hold me up because you're just not sure if the atomic alarm clock is the right color. Geez Louise, whoever you're giving this to will be sleeping when it's in use, so what the hell does it matter?! Buy it and if they don't like it, THEY can return it. Really.

10. Park, shop, leave. Parking during the holiday season is a bitch. In fact, it's an all-out war. I won't even go into whether you should outmaneuver the 90-year old to get the spot nearest to the door. That's on your conscience. When you go shopping, get your spot, go inside and when you're finished...leave. Immediately. Put on your makeup at the stoplight. Give Junior his juicebox when you get home. DO NOT do it when there are fifteen cars in line vying for your spot. Now is not the time to relax and light up a smoke after shopping. This isn't sex people. Get the hell out. Now. Really.

So there you have it. Just a few friendly suggestions to make your holiday retail experiences a little more comfortable. Have a wonderful holiday!


At 10:08 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Karen....did you happen to go shopping last week? I didn't hear from you much last week and I guess now I know why. You were recovering from "Mall-itis" - that terrible syndrome we all get when dealing with idiots in the mall. I know that there are some people out there that enjoy holiday shopping....those must be the people who have their shopping all done months in advance and just want to wander and "soak in the season". Hopefully you're all done now and you won't need to venture out. I'm done. Ran to the mall yesterday morning right after church. In-and-Out...not to return until after January 1, 2005!

At 3:42 PM , Blogger ma said...

I have a great strategy....for Wisconsin shoppers only....go out during the Packer Game. There are tumbleweeds blowing down the streets and through the malls. I know it's a sacrifice for a big fan like you, but the time saved is FANtastic. Funny blog.

At 11:39 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

Can I print this multiple times and paste it up all over the local mall? Then I'd hide out behind the big concrete pillars and secretly videotape folks as they read it.

They I'd pummel them with my shopping bag as I whip past.

On second thought, maybe I'll just stay away from the stores entirely. I'd rather be cruising the bike paths or walking the ravine, looking for photo opportunities. I think shopping gives me hives.


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