Monday, November 26, 2007

The Further Misadventures of the Misguided and Insane Holiday Mall Shopper

You'd think I'd know better, wouldn't you? But nooooo! I had to head straight back into the throngs of holiday shoppers today. Why can't I just learn my lesson and shop online -- or better yet, get into the great "give adventures, not stuff" mentality?

My first stop (shhh -- don't tell Tom; he hates this store... and with good reason!) was WalMart. I couldn't stay in that store for more than 20 minutes. Know why? Because there seems to be some frikkin' contest for decibel level and cheerleader mentality among the "associates" using the store's public address system! I swear, every 20 seconds there was a loud, vivacious (no, maybe "obnoxious" is more descriptive), urgent announcement, mostly between WalMart Associates, but a few were even addressed to us lowly shoppers:

"ATTENTION, ALL WALMART ASSOCIATES! IT'S TIME TO GATHER CARTS FROM THE PARKING LOT! VICTOR, I REPEAT, VICTOOOOOR, PLEASE MEET YOUR SUPERVISOR IN THE PARKING LOT!"

ATTENTION, WALMART ASSOCIATES! WE NEED AN ATTENTIVE ASSOCIATE AT THE WOMEN'S DRESSING ROOM. BECKY, THIS MEANS YOU!"

ATTENTION WALMART SHOPPERS! TODAY AND TODAY ONLY, GET 70% OFF ALL JEWELRY! HOW CAN YOU RESIST...?!"

After 30 minutes I could take no more and I left the store empty-handed, thrilled at the relative peace and quiet of the WalMart parking lot (where I found Victor gathering shopping carts).

Don't ask me what misguided holiday shopping spirit (demon) got into me at that point but, stupid me, I headed straight to the mall where our misadventures had taken place on early Friday morning. You know -- in which I nearly died?! I approached the mall from an unfamiliar direction, since I was coming from WalMart instead of from home, but I had no problem finding my way to my favorite familiar parking structure.

As I walked from my car to the door of the mall, I remember seeing the Salvation Army bell-ringer at the door and I stopped to scrounge some money from my wallet, dropping it into his red bucket as I entered the store. I had an hour's worth of frustrating shopping experiences in the mall (you'd think I'd have learned my... oh, never mind!) before returning to my...

Oh my god, where's my CAR?! I paced the row of cars where I was sure I'd parked, but didn't see my car. I pressed the "lock" button on my key fob, which causes the car to emit a very brief honk, but I heard only silence. 'This makes no sense at all,' I thought. 'I'm absolutely positive that I parked right here!' I retraced my steps, even knowing exactly where I had dug money out of my purse and exactly where I had crossed the street. For 20 minutes I wandered the parking structure, clicking my key fob and shaking my head. By this time I was fairly certain that my car had been jacked! And it wasn't such an outlandish notion; we have a Honda Accord, one of the most frequently stolen cars in America. I called Tom, not sure if I should laugh or cry.

"So I'm at the mall..." I began.

"You didn't learn your lesson early on Friday morning?" he teased.

"Not only did I venture back here," I replied, "But I think the car was stolen!" I was still in total disbelief.

"Well, maybe you should just go back into the mall and grab a latte and relax. Maybe it'll come to you where you parked your car as you sip..." What good, solid Seattle-ite advice! (Or was he secretly snickering, confident that I the car was just fine and I was lost?!)

But I couldn't relax. I had to find the car!

I went back to the bell-ringer, telling him that I couldn't find my car and asking whether he'd seen anything funny right over there where I'd parked my car. "No," he told me. "But maybe you parked in the other garage; is that a possibility?" he asked.

"No way. I know I gave you a donation because I thought you were really friendly, opening doors for everyone and wishing everyone happy holidays."

"We all do that," he assured me.

"Well, but I remember thinking that you look like Santa with your white beard," I insisted.

"All of us at this mall look like Santa," he said. "And you did know that there are two parking mirror image garages, didn't you?"

"Um... nooooooooo!"

I thanked him and went back into the store, heading to the entrance directly opposite where I was standing, snickering to myself, almost breaking into a whole-hearted laugh as I walked.

As I exited the store, the white-bearded bell ringer held the door open for me. "All you Santa bell-ringers look alike," I said, by this time laughing. "Happy holidays, Santa!"

"Happy holidays yourself! Have a nice drive home!" He laughed with me. No wait -- I think he was actually laughing at me -- though I'm not sure how he knew what I'd been up to for the past half hour.

I walked directly to my car, clicked my clicker and greeted my car aloud. "Hello, you silly car! Very funny! Very, very funny!" And I drove home, never to return to the mall this holiday season! My shopping will be done entirely online from now on!

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6 comments:

Juanita said...

Your adventures sure solidify my intention to not hit any mall at all during this holiday season. I am almost done with my shopping - all on-line. It's worth the shipping charges to avoid the crowds!

Blog Antagonist said...

You poor thing! I LOATHE the mall. If it weren't for the shipping costs being so high, I would do all my shopping online too. Luckily, I can go when the kids are in school and crowds are a little less..crowd like.

Hey...Victor works at my Wal-Mart too!

tqe / Adam said...

Wow, you reminded me why I never shop at Wal-Mart (for 1,000,000 reasons; and they were chased out of Germany!!!!) and why I avoid Malls. I even avoid the mall in Weimar, which relatively speaking is more of a (s)mall.

Goofball said...

Oh no, thinking that your car is stolen must be so stressful. I'd get stomac cramps immediately!

How silly to make exact parking images, and not make them visually quite distinctive (different color poles etc etc...)? Well thanks to santa, you made it back safely :). Hurray for the many Santas.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

If you're doing it online, check out Goodshop.com - you can do your online shopping through them and donate money to a favorite charity at the same time - by going through them part of the profit of your online retailer will be shared with your charity. Cool, huh? I didn't explain it well, but if you go over there, you'll see. And no more scary mall experiences!

Betsy said...

ACK! The mall at Christmastime definitely brings out the Grinch in me!

Am SO glad you found you car after all. It must have been such a relief not only not to have to report it to police, insurance company, Tom, etc, but also to be able to flee the insanity!!!!!

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