What is there to say? I'm not very interesting. I'm not a good writer. I don't even dress well. If you insist on knowing something about me just wander through the archives. It's all there.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

On-line Christmas shopping

When it comes to Christmas shopping, I am the poster child for Christmas shopping avoidance. Since I suffer from an impaired gifting ability anyway, this time of year is acutely painful for me. I don’t like shopping that much, but I particularly dislike shopping at this time of year. With the exception of the hardware store where I can wander in a semi-religious trance for hours, I only enter stores with exactly what I want to purchase already determined well ahead of time. Wandering the aisles of one or several stores looking for indeterminate gifts ranks right up there with chewing on a ball of aluminum foil. I have not done any of my gift shopping yet this year.

If I could describe my ideal Christmas shopping experience, it would start by getting a list from each member of my family detailing the item, address of the store where it can be purchased, and the approximate cost. I would then go through the list to eliminate the items that

a. Would require a second mortgage.
b. Specify muzzle velocity, number of Kilotons, or British Thermal Units.
c. Make any sounds that Dad could discern from a distance of more than two feet.

I would go to the bank and withdraw the appropriate amount of money. Then with my pared down list and cash in hand, I would visit each store in turn. I would walk in, pick up the item, pay for it, and go on to the next store. At the end of the day, I would bring all the items home and hide them behind my suits in the eleven cubic inches that my wife allows me to have in the corner of our closet.

On Christmas Eve, I would take the gifts out and disguise each one as a taped-up crumpled wad of colorful holiday wrapping paper. Then place them under tree to be discovered in a flurry of Christmas morning shouting and paper shredding. Alas, it has never worked out like this.

Last year, the news channels buzzed with the promise that online shopping had, at last, come into its own. I sensed that my salvation was at hand. Around the first of December, I sat down at the computer and started in. I quickly discovered that Web designers had done a masterful job of creating animations, web pages, menus, and ads; all designed expressly to prevent me from completing the task in a timely manner. After an orgy of “this page contains no data”, “sorry, out of stock”, and "picture not available" messages, I finally finished the selection process.

I, of course, then had to pull out my credit card and enter the multiple digits that allowed unfettered access to my entire financial history. As I pressed the Enter key to transmit this information, I couldn’t escape the nagging fear that I was actually beaming it directly into the bedroom of a fifteen year old in Kiev.

Over the next few weeks, my purchases trickled in. Those items that shouldn’t get wet were left on the front sidewalk during a pouring rainstorm. Those that should not be frozen were left out on the porch for eight hours on the coldest day of the year. Those items that I thought would provide the greatest surprise were delivered into eager young hands just after school let out with pictures and full-descriptions plainly visible on the labels.

To complete the joy of the season, I had to look forward to the hemorrhoid inducing experience of getting the credit bill a month later. Online shopping did not make the Christmas shopping experience less painful for me. It just changed it from being an acute pain to being a chronic one.

This year I am going to stick with what I know and shop where I am most comfortable. Every one on my list is going to get the same hand-selected gifts from me. They will each receive one pound of double-hot-dipped galvanized eight-penny nails and two eight-foot sections of schedule forty, inch and a half PVC pipe.


Blogger Glory said...

Very funny, as usual.

How much time did you spend debating whether to call this post "On On-line Christmas Shopping?"

I'm glad I'm not on your Christmas list.

1/12/05 12:12 PM  
Blogger HCaldwell said...

The pun inherent in the title is what started me thinking about the subject to begin with.
Someday, I will write a post entitled, "On ions".

1/12/05 1:14 PM  

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