Monday, December 15, 2008

Economy Seems Fine to Me

Shopping this past weekend sure felt like pre-Christmas shopping of last year... and the year before... and the year before. The mall was packed. I had to drive around for a few minutes just to find a spot to park, which was in a parking lot across the road from the mall (I refused to keep circling and circling). People were clogging up parking lanes as they sat with their blinkers on while the car parked a few spaces up was being filled by a family packing all their wares in. It's a beautiful thing when one car, while waiting for a somewhat mediocre parking spot, blocks the 15 vehicles behind it, about a third who are honking their horns to get by.

Inside the mall itself, people were everywhere. And of course, everyone felt the need to walk at least 3 abreast and at the pace of an out of shape snail. Then they give you the stink eye when you blow past them any time there's even the narrowest opening. Sorry people, I have better things to do than mosey along behind you listening to you talk about nonsensical crap.

Individual stores were also pretty tightly packed with people. Checkout lanes were fully manned and had lines snaking away for yards. People were browsing and getting in other people's ways as they were so caught up in their own little world that they forget there's anyone else around. From everything I'd seen, the economy is as far from a recession as possible...

...but then I realized why the checkout lines were so long. The stinginess of the season was on full display as people brought their armloads of goods up to the cash register. I wasn't in many stores, mostly just in JC Penny getting some new dress clothes, but my experiences there I'm sure were seen throughout many stores.

In front of me a few people up was a middle aged couple that looked to be buying gifts for relatives or children. They had a bunch of clothes, trinkets, and jewlery. Once the clerk rung up everything and gave them the total, they had the poor woman show them each item on the receipt to make sure they weren't accidentally charged twice, and when that activity was completed, they asked for price checks on half of the items they had there. As expected, everything rung up correctly and was the right price. So then they started asking the clerk how much they would save if they didn't get this item, then what about if they didn't get that item, or how about if they did get that item, but didn't get those two... way to be in your own world and not realize there are other people waiting. Dumbasses.

Next to the register was an old lady who had not been in line. No, she'd been standing off to the side mumbling to herself about God knows what. She just rushes up to the cashier throws a sweatshirt at her, tosses a crumpled receipt on the counter and says she wants money. The sweatshirt has no tags on it. The receipt, the clerk tells her, shows a sweatshirt had already been returned. The crazy lady proceeds to start ranting about her cousin Kim and how she's no longer a part of the family and she doesn't want her dirty clothes, but wants her damned money because she's a dirty old bitch that should stay in Texas and never see her children again and that's the receipt that the dumbass clerk gave her and it's all she has and she wants her money now...

This lasts for a few minutes until they call in a manager to take her aside and hopefully explain to her how crazy she is. Now at the register was a guy who wanted price checks on everything he had in his hands. He wasn't going to buy them, he just wanted price checks. Does he not know how to read the price stickers on them? Or potentially the price signs by the displays where he picked up the items?

Finally, there's only one person in front of me. Thankfully, she was normal. She had her stuff rung up, swiped her card, tossed her clothes into a reusable shopping bag she had with, and was on her way. Thank goodness. I did the same and got the hell out of the store.

So apparently everyone is still shopping this season, but the main difference is everyone is more of a jerkass about price and gives even less of a crap about anyone else trying to shop. If anything, it won't be the recession driving me away from the malls, it'll be the even more self-absorbed people the places are populated with.

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