Shopping Hell

Eric Clapton – The Core

Today’s Quote: “Against logic there is no armor like ignorance.” — Laurence J. Peter


Today I attempted to do my Christmas shopping, solo. I found that I’m not ready to fly solo. The venture was disastrous for my mental health; it’s just too stressful. I can’t do it without a chaperon, guide, co-pilot, or whatever. I need assistance. I really am a basket case.

To begin with, I went to the satellite pharmacy by the base commissary to pick up my prescription. I pulled into the lot and discovered that all but two of the parking spaces were handicapped spaces. The other two were reserved for military in uniform or mothers with small children. Three strikes and I’m out. I ended up parking on the back 40 of the Exchange parking lot and walking back.

As I walked in, I saw a lot of people sitting in a waiting area. That did not forebode well. Do I take a number? I’d never been in this pharmacy before so I had no idea. Finally, someone showed up at the counter and assisted me. I got my blood pressure medication and little did I know at the time, but that would be the easiest thing I’d do this morning.

I walked over to the base exchange (BX) and had a bit of lunch, then went into the exchange. I saw Tina working at the customer service counter and I picked up a sales brochure to look at while I waited for her. I saw they had a beard trimmer on sale and when she came over I pointed it out to her. She said she could get me that and I said I’d check it out first to make sure it was what I wanted as my experiences with these things over the years has been very disappointing.

Then I asked her what she’d like for Christmas (big mistake, I know) and she said, “Get me anything.” That didn’t help me a bit. Anything is an all-inclusive term. It’s a union of sets (A U B) with Set A being things in my world and Set B being things in her world. I know very little about things in Set B (her world). Those elements in Set B that I do know about are either things she doesn’t really appreciate or things that are well beyond my financial resources. Given my limited knowledge of everything else in Set B, my inclination is to select from Set A (my world) and I know from experience that she generally does not like elements from Set A as gifts. Given the facts at hand about Sets A and B, I was back where I started and as clueless as ever. Sorry about subjecting you to all the math.

So anyway, I began wandering around the BX, which was stressful in itself due to the overabundance of humanity in there. (Which is why I was parked in the back 40.) I looked at beard trimmers and was overwhelmingly disappointed at the selection. The one in the flyer was not in stock; there wasn’t even an empty spot on the shelf for it. Then I looked at day planners in the next aisle. I didn’t see anything I liked there either and even their prices were too high for something I was going to occasionally make notes in and throw away after a year.

I wandered around some more and decide to look at the selection of bags, backpacks, and totes. I found a computer backpack sort of like Adam’s and it was only $34.95. Not bad considering most I’d seen were $70 or more. I made a note of it so I could tell Tina about them. That would be a nice Christmas present and something I could definitely use.

I wandered through most of the store without finding anything. I avoided the clothing sections since I have a hard enough time buying clothes for myself, let alone anyone else. I don’t know anyone’s sizes. Besides, I have absolutely no understanding of how sizes for women’s and children’s clothes are determined. Men’s sizes are generally easy. Pants are waist and inseam in inches. Shirts are neck circumference and sleeve length in inches. Jackets are based on chest size, again in inches. Pretty simple, huh? (So what’s the deal with men’s shoe sizes?)

Without having purchased anything, I left and walked over to the Home and Garden store, hoping I’d be able find something for someone there. I fared a little bit better. I sort of found things for a couple of people on my list.

Bags in hand, I trekked onward to the truck in the furthest regions of the parking lot and stowed my meager purchases. It was then I remembered that I was out of juice so I hiked back to the commissary. I grabbed a cart and made my way through the aisles, around the masses of humanity, gathering various juices that I like. I also grabbed some of the fruit cups I like for my lunch.

With my eight items, I made my way to the checkouts and, with much trepidation (I’m so technologically challenged), opted for the self-service check out. The only major difficulty I ran into here were the plastic bags. I just couldn’t get them open since I don’t have fingernails extending past my fingertips. After I struggled with a plastic bag for about 15 minutes, the overseer of the self-service checkouts came over and pointed out that they had paper bags. Gee, thanks. One of the major disadvantages of paper over plastic is that loaded down paper bags are more cumbersome to carry the half mile to my truck. Plastic bags, if you can get them open in the first place, at least have handles.

And such was my shopping adventure. I will try to summon to courage to finish my shopping but I’m not going without my wife or daughter-in-law. If my wife accompanies me, then I will ask her to point out several potential gifts and I will then choose from them (after 30 years of marriage, romance isn’t really expected anymore). Just don’t ask me to figure it out on my own; it’s beyond my capability as a man. As for the males on my list, I’m just about as clueless. About the only ones on my list for whom I have any clues are my parents and my grandchildren. I think next year I will do my Christmas shopping throughout the year so don’t be surprised if you get a Christmas gift in April or July.


EricClapton-SlowhandThe Core by Eric Clapton, Slowhand (1977)
This song has a great guitar riff and is one of the few Clapton songs to incorporate horns. Marcy Levy, one of his backup singers, helped him write it. She also helped him with Lay Down Sally.

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Author: Rick

I'm a simple man, trying to make my way in the universe.