I live in what most would consider to be the mall mecca of the world, which is kind of lost on me as I’m not a big shopper. Today, however, I was forced to spend a couple of hours in the mall — Fangette drove over a nail the other day and, as a result, was driving around on a donut. The roads are a little icy for that sort of thing here in Northeastern New Jersey at the moment.
While they installed her tires, we had a couple of hours to kill. Since we were at the mall anyway, we decided to get lunch and do a little shopping. I suggested that, perhaps, we could look at prom dresses. Apparently, we were in the wrong mall for that. Unbeknownst to me, one cannot purchase a prom dress at the same mall where one purchases tires. This is one of the many shopping-related rules of which I am ignorant.
Overall, outside of the fact that we couldn’t even peek at any prom dresses, it wasn’t a bad shopping trip, as shopping trips go. Still,
the experience reminded me why I don’t routinely spend much time at the mall.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have something to complain about though, would I? Mainly, my complaints emanate from the fact that I have issues with all of the questioning that occurs at checkout these days. I was asked, even before I had picked out the tires, “May I have your phone number, please?” As I was wondering if this was some new horror, a departure from holding you up at payment time with their endless questions and prompts for survey-taking, I discovered, much to my relief, that the salesman needed our phone number so that he could access our account. Okay. That was fine. That was a timesaver. No need to be annoyed yet. There would be plenty of time for that at the next store.
The question I really hate, the one that really irritates me, is “May I have your email address, please?”. That’s not a timesaver. And, no. No, you may not have my email address!
I try to be nice to the minimum wage employee who is just doing his or her job by wrangling this information from me, but, really, I just wanted her to take my $3 and fork over the citrus-sage scented air freshener that I was attempting to purchase. An air freshener that was needed, by the way, to rid the car of the rusty tire iron smell — the one that exists because Fangette’s “boys” — the delightful ones who she charmed into changing her tire — left the tire iron on the back seat. That’s right. Instead of putting it back in the trunk where it belonged, it was sitting on the back seat stinking up the car. Of course, I blame my daughter for that.
Don’t even get me started on why, instead of calling AAA — a service that we PAY for — inexperienced teenage boys were tasked with changing her tire. Don’t even get me started on THAT. I suppose we should be grateful that the tire iron found it’s way back into the vehicle at all. Of course, we wouldn’t have had to deal with the smelliness of tire irons at all if she had just called AAA as she had been instructed to do.
She was impatient. And, since she had a few willing and able-bodied young men at her beck and call, why wait for The Automobile Association of America? They’re busy. The boys? They were, apparently, just sitting around waiting for her to snap her little fingers and bat her luscious lashes. Fangette has a knack for getting men, young and old, to do things for her. I’m smart enough to not want to know how, exactly, she does this. I operate under the assumption that she uses her good looks and sparkling personality to curry favors and leave it at that. Adopting this line of thinking makes it possible for me to sleep at night.
When I responded “No, thank you” to the clerk’s request for my email address, the atmosphere at the checkout counter changed considerably and not for the better. This seemingly nice young woman who had been extremely solicitous and had even appeared to be concerned for my safety, this same young woman who, only moments before she blurted out this question, had made sure that she sent me on my way with fire safety literature, never mind that I hadn’t purchased anything that required the use of fire, began to eye me suspiciously. She was regarding me as if I were some kind of a terrorist because I wasn’t inclined to share my personal information with her, her company, and anyone who might have been standing within earshot of our transaction!
In an attempt to convince me of the error of my ways, she began to try to “sell” me on why I should give her company my email. To say that I had no interest in engaging in any conversation where someone was making attempts, valiant though they were, to force me into giving out my email address is an understatement. I’d rather have taken the bent nail that was stuck in Fangette’s tire and, curiously enough, also sitting on the back seat of her car next to the tire iron, and poked it in my eye — repeatedly. No matter how these folks try to approach this whole email thing, I will never be convinced that it behooves me to reveal this information. The advantage is all theirs.
If I want coupons, I’ll go online and print out the damn coupons before I journey to the mall. Or, I’ll bring them up on my phone while I’m there. I’ll use their free Wi-Fi while I’m at it — as long as I don’t have to give them any of my personal information to do so.
These requests never fail to annoy me. More annoying, though, was my teenager’s response to the whole thing. Fangette rolled her eyes and sighed at me — that’s teen speak for “My mother is sooooooooooooooo embarrassing!” Whatever. She then began to whine. Somewhere, mid-whine, I’m fairly certain that she worked in this gem, “Mom, why can’t you just be a normal person and play nice.”
I didn’t respond to her for the simple reason that everyone, including the young lady from the candle store, can attest to the fact that I’m not normal. Of all people, my own child should know that better than anyone. As far as not being nice goes, I’m nice when I want to be, when I need to be. And, I’m polite. I said, “No, thank you”. That’s as nice as I was prepared to be with my interrogator today.
Really, though, here I was shelling out almost $400 American dollars for new tires for my kid’s car AND spending my day off at the mall, which I thought was pretty damn nice, and Fangette thought it in her best interests to take potshots at me? I had other things that I could have done today. Believe me. Further, I could think of a few things, other than tires, that, since I had to be at the stupid mall anyway, I could be spending my hard-earned money on. For example, I could use a pair of snow boots.
I have been using a ten-year old pair of lavender Uggs as snow boots this winter. (Really, I’ve been using them for the past nine winters!) They’re no longer cutting it. They have no tread left on the bottoms. As a result, I’ve taken more than one tumble in the dark, on the ice, while wearing them. They also look a little rough around the edges. Like I said, they’re ten years old. They’ve seen their fair share of action. They deserve to be retired; I deserve to not be flat on my ass.
Obviously, though, insuring that my daughter is driving a safe vehicle is more important than a new pair of snow boots. Still, I decided that while I was at the mall I might as well see what kind of snow boots they had to offer. I was pretty sure, even given the ridiculous amount of money two tires cost, that a basic pair of snow boots wouldn’t put me in the poorhouse.
What I’d like to know is when they stopped making your basic, run-of-the-mill snow boots? Obviously it’s been a while since I’ve been in the market for such a thing. Like I said, the Uggs are nine years old and before that, I think I had a pair of moon boots. I’m surprised they haven’t come back into style.
I did manage to find one pair of waterproof fur-lined boots today. Okay. Warm and waterproof. That’s what I was after. I don’t know what brand they were, exactly, but I do know this: they wanted $300 for them. If I paid $300 for them, I wouldn’t have been able to bring myself to wear them in the snow. I wondered, aloud and to the further embarrassment of my teenage daughter, whether they came with their own glass display case. I would need one to house them in, you know, so that I could look upon them longingly as I pulled on my ten-year old lavender Uggs for the next twenty winters. Three-hundred dollars seemed like a crazy amount of money to spend on footwear to shovel in.
Serendipitously, I stumbled upon a pair of clearance boots that were considerably less expensive. They’re not fur-lined, but they’re waterproof and have intact treads. I’ll throw on a pair of extra socks to make up for the fact that they’re not designed for warmth. Their real selling point was that they were $20. That’s more my speed. They were also cheetah-print, which wouldn’t have been my first choice, but for twenty bucks, I was willing to settle for whatever they had in my size. Fangette’s unsolicited opinion is that they’re hideous, so at least I know she won’t be “borrowing” them. That was an added bonus.
In a moment of what I thought was extreme cleverness, when I was asked to provide my email, instead of saying, “No, thank you”, I said “firstname.lastname@example.org”. It took the clerk a moment to catch on to what I had done there. She kind of chuckled, as, surprisingly, did Fangette. The clerk then waited, expectantly, for me to give her my real email. I told her to just go ahead and put in the one that I had given her. I explained that I was sure Mr. Obama would be delighted to receive promotional materials, special offers, and coupons from her fine establishment.
When we left the store, Fangette, in an exasperated tone — her amusement was both momentary and fleeting — asked me “What normal person behaves that way, Mom?” “How would I know?”, I replied. Honestly, I don’t know normal from a hole in the wall. What I do know is funny and clever. And, really, I’m pretty sure I nailed both funny and clever, which made the fact that I had to shop at all just a little more enjoyable than usual. Plus, now I have new snow boots. So, yeah, it was a good day.