Why do I do this to myself every damn year? I wait till the last minute, because life inevitably gets in the way, and then I am stuck at the godforsaken mall on the Sunday before Christmas.
I'm a relatively sane person. Most of the time. BUT... the holiday season gives me an anxious feeling in my gut starting about, oh..say, November 1st. They start pushing it down our throats at about 12:01 am and it doesn't end till the after-Christmas sales the second week of January. Black Friday should just be renamed 'the day we do not speak of' as far as I am concerned.
Thus this post, if you'll forgive me, is a peek into the horror I truly feel at dealing with the unenviable task of heading out to the mall. This, my friends, is real life horror - at its most reprehensible.
So I had a few things I desperately needed to get in order to have a Merry Christmas (well, in order for those around me to have a happy holiday - my relief was one-stop shopping at the liquor store!) and I found myself making the trek to the mall this fine afternoon. I had two goals: finish the damn shopping and make it home before the Steeler game came on at 4.
What happened from the moment I got in the car until I finally made it home (in time for kick-off, natch) is chronicled below. Bear with me.
People who take the carts out of Sears Grand ought to have their heads knocked off by those mall guards on the Segways. I do believe it says NOT to take them out of the damn store. But invariably some idiot with a couple unruly kids comes barreling down the small aisle in the literature section at Borders, one kid in the seat with his feet kicking his mom's crotch, the other standing up in the buggy section, pulling books off the shelves like cereal boxes. Why me?
And on that same note - what is up with those Segways anyway, I mean - seriously? How efficient would they be at stopping crime? I'm thinking I could probably out run any one of these yay-hoos if I had just snatched a purse or stolen a hot pretzel. What are the chances that the dude on wheels would actually catch me without running down some lady with a baby or a granny looking to buy a pair of crocs at the kiosk? They have to be the stupidest thing I've ever witnessed at the mall - and that includes all those Indian women trying to lather hand cream on my wrist. Gah!
A guy in front of me at a traffic light reached into his backseat and pulled out a flask (!) and took a swig. Um, DUI here he comes! (But you know, I was secretly thinking how warm and comforting a little swill of Jim Beam might have been as I waited for all the jagoffs in front of me to learn their colors - green means go, ass-munch!)
But I can only assume I'll see Mr. Johnny Walker alongside the road on my way home...
I witnessed an elderly woman get lost in Macy's. As I stood in line, I felt sick to my stomach as I watched her mill around near the women's sportswear, anxiously looking for...someone? She looked as old as God, with a long purple coat made of faux fur (as if there is a purple four footed beast out there in the hills of western PA somewhere), whisps of gray hair peeking out from under her black and gold (Go Steelers?) knitted cap, and a purse as large as a carry-on suitcase over her shoulder. She was wrinkly and sad, and finally took a seat beside the service desk without saying a word. I almost said something to her, but she shut her eyes so I didn't bother. Yes Grandma, we're all exhausted.
For those of you with kids, I apologize in advance.
It's certainly no secret that kids, in general, make me crazy. So when shopping, it's all I can do to avoid the toy section of every/any store in the lower 48. I just cannot tolerate looking at children's do-dads, novelties, and trinkets.
But here's the thing - many stores have surprise toy sections. As in, you'll be walking amongst the pots and pans, just looking for a 12 inch copper-bottom skillet, and wham! All of the sudden you turn the corner and are staring a display of Barbie dolls in the face. Ahhh! What the heck? Kids make me cringe, and never more than some snot-nosed little tot swinging a Barbie around by the hair whilst Mommy digs through her purse looking for that 15% off coupon.
Parents are, for the most part, less than stellar and pretty much let their kids get away with murder these days. They allow them to race through the aisles, open up the juice box or cereal they haven't even paid for, throw cheerios all over the floor, scream like wild banshees, and basically make everyone else - including myself - miserable. My mom would have given me shaken-kid syndrome if I'd have acted like that. Then she would have told me to wait till my father got home. Yikes.
Anyway, there were so many unruly children and so many tales to tell about this excursion that I don't have all day so I'll have to refrain altogether. Suffice it to say the little humans at the mall are my least favorite.
And don't even get me started about the line to meet and greet Santa Claus. That is an area to avoid at all costs.
Okay, so I know it's a cellular world and all that crap, but I did a little experiment when I went into the mall. I told myself I would try to find ten people who weren't either talking on, texting, or at least holding onto their cell phones for dear life and see how long it took me. Folks, I entered the mall at Borders and made it the whole way through the ridiculously busy crowds to the food court (a lengthy jaunt, probably a half mile at least) before I counted ten people NOT attached to their phone. This included the beast of a woman in front of me at the Hallmark store. (I did not, however, count mall employees - who if they could, I'm sure would have been on their cells chatting about how bawdy and uncontrollable the consumers were.) This woman had like, six Hallmark ornaments filling her arms as she still struggled to text someone. The line was like a football field long as it was (I'm exaggerating for effect) and she couldn't be bothered to move up in the line as it crawled forward. This irritated me so much that I almost threw down my cards and left. But I do have some heart left in my chest cavity and didn't want my elderly grandmother not to get her holiday greeting. I digress. Cell phones are everywhere. Which you already knew, as did I. But that's not what bothers me... it's how damn rude everyone is using them.
Traffic is utterly unbearable during the holidays, and today was no different. I am relatively lucky - it is a straight shot down a major highway to Pittsburgh Mills. Granted it is a boring 35 miles (!) but at least you can go 65mph. This is part of the problem though. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I get a little nervous sometimes at people's driving habits. Not to mention the ghastly cell phone use we are all aware of, but what almost bothers me more is the tendency that some drivers have to ride up close to your bumper then back off. Like, I'm already going 75 mph (whoops!) - do you really NEED to go faster? Today I had a dude in a white Durango following me like a scene from Joy Ride or Jeepers Creepers. He kept showing up in my rear view mirror, taunting me into driving faster then backing off. He nearly had me convinced that he had me mistaken for some mob hit he was assigned to. Apparently upset that I continued to go faster than him and he couldn't get around me lest he drive twenty miles over the speed limit, he kept accelerating so much that I eventually caved and let my Jeep drop to 50 mph just so the bastard would pass me. Later when I turned off to the mall, I passed his car pulling into Smokey Bones (a rib joint). Guess he just couldn't wait to have that BBQ sauce. Prick. If it had been dark I'd have been totally wigged out.
Speaking of food, I had every intention of grabbing some delicious broccoli-cheese soup at Panera Bread when I set out. It never happened. I couldn't even bring myself to stop for a soft pretzel, I was so anxious to get out of there. It took everything I had just to get back to my car. I spoke with my husband and my friend Kristy (who talked me down from the ledge I'd climbed onto, so thanks for that, K) and drove away. Not before sitting in my car an extra three minutes just to piss off the lady in the Beemer behind me waiting impatiently for my parking space. Hey, I had to get a dig in somewhere!
I ended up scarfing down a steak taco at Taco Bell once I got closer to home and had calmed down. Best damn taco ever, I'm telling you.
But if that's not scary, I don't know what is.