"To build and destroy...only you decide which joy." - Last Crack

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Retail HELL(o), May I Help You?

It's great to be employed. The mere prospect of getting a (paltry) paycheck every two weeks always seems to boost my motivation and inspires me to count down the days til my next one. Perhaps it could be the fact the as soon as my direct deposit hits the bank after midnight it leaves just as quickly as it arrived. I don't recall the last time I actually saw any large sum of money other than as a splash of numbers on a computer screen or a payroll receipt.

Regardless of the amount of your deposit the anticipation and anxiety affects everyone. Even if you're Oprah. Well, someone has to buy those 10 million dollar houses along with enough employees to rival a Wal-Mart Supercenter. I wonder if Oprah has direct deposit, and if so, does she sit eagerly at her computer waiting for it to show up in her bank (that she owns) so she can put a downpayment on her next island getaway off the coast of Jamaica?

Alas, I digress.

My real point is this. No matter how you get paid the last place you want to be earning your "9 to 5" from this time of year is a retail store. Mainly because sales of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh have been rather dismal for the past century and a bit of a holiday faux pas, retail stores selling items that even the Japanese Yen wouldn't buy still get absolutely hammered by flocks of patrons clamoring over anything with a price tag.

Retail is absolute hell during the holidays, and if you've ever done it you can appreciate my employment woes. I think I would rather rent myself out as a back hair remover to the stars than do retail this time of year. Wait, I take that back. I'd rather be a back hair remover/toenail clipper/scab licker for the penniless and destitute homeless ragamuffins on the streets of Washington, D.C than subject myself to the idiocy that ensues once "Holiday Fever" begins.

"Holiday Fever" doesn't involve John Travolta or any type of straight-to-dvd dance-a-thon...although, perhaps it should, but it does seem like a good name to call the sheer magnitude of stupidity that holiday shoppers all seem to suffer from. Because I feel it is my civic duty to do so, I will share a few simple holiday shopping tips with you.

1. If CNN does a feature on a new item that should be a warning you're entering the danger zone. This will be an item that you should not attempt to purchase for Christmas until July of next year. If your local news does a feature on the same item you should carpet bomb the nearest mall in a pre-emptive strike.

2. If your child asks for an item that will set you back more than two paychecks you should calmly tell them it should be the item they ask Santa Claus for this year. And when Christmas morning comes regretfully inform them that Osama Bin Laden, armed with a rocket-propelled grenade, blew Santa out of the sky just after midnight and it may be awhile before they can recover all of the toy receipts from the smoldering pile of debris and distribute the charred remains to children the world over.

3. If you're standing in line at a register for customer assistance take a moment to listen to the patrons in front of you. If someone asks about an item and is thereafter informed it is currently sold out, odds are going to be it is still sold out in 3 minutes when you coyly step up to the counter and preface your query with "I know this is probably a stupid question, but...".

4. If you don't know what to buy for someone don't expect the employees of the retail store to do your shopping for you. We have our own unimportant relatives to buy gifts for and couldn't possibly care less about your lack of understanding in your brother Bob's love of "that new thing (ya know)" that you can't even remotely pronounce. God made gift cards for a reason - use em.

5. Finally, if you're going to go all /emo and leave the store in a huff after actually having to (gasp!) wait in line you should save yourself the trouble and do all your shopping online or actually start BEFORE the week leading to Christmas. It should also be noted that gremlins often take up residence in point of sale systems during the holidays, which will cause credit card machines to rarely work, computers to crash once your final item is scanned and gift cards to refuse to load any funds whatsoever.

And that's all for today except one last tidbit of advice. If anyone asks if your UPS shipment has arrived today tell them yes. Then proceed to tell them it contained all the items they start asking you about.

And that all those items sold out immediately.

Nothing quite warms the heart of a retailer like the glimmer of hope fading from a frantic holiday shopper's eyes.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Coming Around Again

Yeah, just like Carly Simon.

As you may have noticed I'm very cyclic with my writing. This is actually true of just about anything I do. I get so used to routines and nestle comfortably deep inside the security of consistency that it's often difficult to emerge. Still, my new routine continues to elude me. Here lately it seems every time I'm about to get back on track some major change in my life shuffles it all around again.

The short version of the past 8 months of my life involves a change of jobs, a move out of state and the prospect of new possibilities lurking in forgotten places.

I suppose I should be thankful. I mean if you're "done", that is, if you've come to a point where you've done everything you set out to do in this life what remains worth living for? As long as I keep challenging myself to be more than what I have become I don't intend on being "done" any time soon. I'll take a moment to reflect on the lyrics from "Boston" by Augustana:

"She said I think I'll go to Boston...
I think I'll start a new life,
I think I'll start it over, where no one knows my name,"

Is it possible to start a new life when you inevitably end up exactly where you started? I suppose that's the nature of being cyclic when even veering onto a drastic tangent leads you back to the smooth curves of your own circle of knowledge. In most cases the devil you know is better than the one you don't...but the devil always looks so damn good.

Boxes still wait patiently to be unpacked. Loaded with uncertain truths blurred by shades of a past eager to bask in the sunlight. Will I put everything back the way it used to be? Will I put anything back the way it used to be? If I sell my identity along with all the scraps and trinkets inside these sealed up cardboard boxes does that truly wipe my slate clean? If it does, will I be strong enough to change, or instead slip back inside the shell of a convenient excuse?

Habit is easy...revolution is exquisite.