Saturday, December 1, 2007

Last Weekend in Full Contact Shopping Mode

Ok, a few housekeeping notes on this, which I should point out. First of all, I won't be posting on any sort of regular schedule, so I may end up posting every day for a week then go two weeks with nothing. I write when the inspiration shows up, and at points, it overflows the senses. And on other times, it's lost in a sea of distraction.

Secondly, unless I specifically use somebody's real name, all the names I use in this blog will be either nicknames or names that I have made up. Not that I really feel I need to protect the innocent here or alter evidence, but I'm used to using aliases in my life as a member of the Timbers Army. Many of us post on our central board,, and for most of us, we use aliases for posting. There's folks I know in the army simply by their nickname, which was unusual at first but then I realized that these people are truly amazing folks, and being able to connect on such an indepth level without knowing a name was a truly unusual but fascinating situation.

Much like trying to shop on Black Friday. Mind you, Thanksgiving hasn't always been the biggest holiday for my family, especially after I went to college and spent many of the short holidays at school or with friends. Plus, when I went to work in the corporate world, I usually worked the day after Thanksgiving every year due to vacation in our world is always based on seniority. And for many of the groups I worked it, many of my coworkers had worked with the team since the time of rocks and fire. When I moved up to more management positions, I found that working that day wasn't a bad thing because you could get stuff done and not have your phone going off every 5 minutes with something blowing up. But since I've become part of girl's family (girl is my fiancee, her board name on SCUSA), they love the holiday of massive consumption and the day afterwords known as full contact shopping.

For a guy, I don't mind shopping or malls, mostly because if I go, I don't mind looking at the things to buy and I can entertain myself with people watching, which happens at every suburban shoppery. So after massive consuming food and sitting on the couch under a triptophan high, girl and I looked at various brochures to see if there was anything we wanted to venture out for. I was finally able to take the day after Thanksgiving off, and figured this might be a good time to see what all the fuss is about.

First item we decided to shop for was socks. Ok, if you've lived in Portland for any time frame, you know the Fred Meyer sock sale after thanksgiving, where socks are very cheap. Plus as a guy, I sometimes subscribe to the theory my (article of clothing name inserted here, could be socks, underwear, t-shirt)* isn't so bad that it can't be worn. Girl follows the female mindset of this (those are full of holes/there's one good string left/holes in socks are bad) and so I have to watch what I wear here. Most guys will admit to having one bad pair of socks or underwear that's comfortable to wear when single but would cause the wrath of your significant other if you wore it, much less in public. Yes, some of my socks resembled swiss cheese, so I agreed to partake on this. Yes, the holes seem stupid, but when it comes to this, comfort rules out over fashion. Although, it probably shouldn't.

We found some specials on an MP3 player, which we wanted for our wedding. We also found that most mall jewerly stores were putting their stuff on sale for 50 percent off, so we thought it would be a good time to check on rings. Everything else either didn't have appeal, and we wanted to get into the mall and out unscathed. And so the story begins...

6:00 AM - the alarm goes off and we are now officially operating on 4 hours of sleep. Between overeating and being distracted by TV, we were up really late. Watching scare you to death TV (that's what I call Fox 12 news - if we aren't scaring you about something, we aren't doing our jobs), they had showed malls filled with people shopping since 5 Am. Ok, this could be crazier than I thought, but we dress warm and head out towards Freddy's.
7:15 AM - The wood village Freddy's is semi packed, but we get a parking spot close to the front, which surprises me. As I enter the store with girl, the madness has already begun with people 3 deep grabbing and pulling at socks. There's boxes and boxes of them, but apparently this one pair of white ones had 4 people wanting it. People, socks are socks, I think but then I get distracted by Nike socks on sale and someone grabs the pair I was looking at from me. It's time to regroup a bit and we notice pillows are on sale, so we wander over there and there's nobody in that section. A few pillow shots to the head for each of us to the amusement of some other shoppers, we grab pillows and head up to get different socks. A nice employee gives me some large shopping bags to hold pillows, and then within 5 minutes upstairs, I have my socks without anyone stealing them, and we now wander to find girl some socks. We find some great green ones, socks with monkeys and cats, and other fun colors, and then go to stand in line to pay. The same employee that gave me a bag told us to wander downstairs for no waiting, and sure enough, we checked out in 20 minutes. The longest line at the store was for people wanting to take carts upstairs in the elevator.
7:45 AM - We get to Best Buy in gresham for the MP3 player, and it's somewhat crowded but not too bad. After getting turned around a few times in the store, we get to the MP3 area and of course, everyone is distracted by the cheap one on sale. I start looking at a 4 GB model, which then causes someone to grab the same model and stare at it for 5 minutes. Apparently, what I was buying was fascinating to this guy, because everything I looked at, he picked up and looked at after me. I finally ditched him, grabbed the MP3 player and a charger, and did a victory dance as we checked out. Only 15 minutes in the store, and a close parking spot here. Not bad.
8:10 AM - Clackamas Town Center is crazy. Seriously, I didn't think there could be this many cars anywhere, and I've been to Trail Blazer games. We were heading to Sears to look at rings to start, and it took us 10 minutes in the parking lot just to find a spot. Ok, we had to walk forever, but at least we found parking. The jewelry section was crazy busy, and we had to pick a number just to get serviced. However, we waited just 5 minutes and a guy called our number. We found a couple of wedding bands within minutes that we liked, and they were both reduced in price. Very sparkly, and the guy even was trying to find the least expensive but nice ring that we could have. I appreciated someone looking out for us, especially in the craziness. Next thing, we know, 15 minutes in the store, $450 and we have rings. It's now 8:55 AM and we are done with the things we set out to shop for.

Ok, we tried to follow the rules of shopping for things we needed and that were on sale, so that's why our list was pillows, socks, rings and an MP3 player. Everyone was so nice and friendly, and the experience was quick and painless, but I think it helped that we knew what we were doing, we knew where we needed to go, and we weren't in a huge hurry to get anywhere. The result was less than 2 hours of shopping with travel time, everything was done by 9 AM, and we could spend the rest of the day napping in front of bad TV.

I learned that girl and I make a great team, because we complement each other very well. We think alike, and we anticipate what each other is thinking. And we also talk about everything, and come up with a concensus plan of attack. And I can say that any experience like this where I can keep my sanity in tact and not kill my pocketbook too much is a great one. Ok, nothing fancy in the shopping cart, but honestly, how many extra shiny things do we all need.

We've agreed that we are trying a simpler approach to Christmas, and I think this was a good start to it as we focused on things we need. We can worry about the crazy purchases later, oh, wait, that's on the schedule for April.

Talk to you all soon..


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