Friday, December 13, 2013

'Tis the season for crowded malls and grumpy people

I used to be one of 'those' guys.
You know who I am talking about: the ones who leave their Christmas shopping to the last minute (typically they are of the male species.)
When I was young, foolish and generally not too bright, I would head out to the mall the evening of Dec. 23 to get gifts for my parents and siblings.
And seeing as we opened our presents the evening of Dec. 24, it really was the last minute.
The mall two days before Christmas is just slightly more crowded than a Japanese subway.
The spirit of Christmas can be tested when you are elbowing people out of the way while engaged in full-contact shopping.
For some, the descent into hum bug begins in the parking lot where it would be easier to find Jimmy Hoffa than a parking spot.
One year, I lucked out. While making my 132nd lap around the lot, I saw a car pulling out of a spot relatively close to the door. And by relatively close, I mean I would not have to bivouac overnight half-way to the mall entrance.
I pulled off to the side, put on my turn single and gleefully waited for this prime parking spot to become vacant.
I was the only car waiting, until another vehicle entered the lane from the opposite direction.
They could see I was ahead of them, and by the globally sanctioned rules of parking endorsed by the UN, NATO and Rotary International, that meant the spot was mine.
The lady driving the other car was in her early 40s, and had a couple of youngsters in the back seat.
With the white stuff gently falling and a parking lot covered in accumulated snow, the spirit of Christmas came upon me like a divine wind and I turned off my signal and raised my hand palm up and pointed toward the spot.
This is also an internationally recognized signal for 'Merry Christmas fellow shopper, please, take this prime parking spot and I shall search for another. You're welcome.'
The lady then looked at me, mouthed something about a duck and the word hassle before giving me the bird and taking the prime parking position.
I must admit, I was a little stunned by her Grinch-like response, but who knows what kind of a day she was having and after the initial shock wore off, I found the whole thing so ridiculous it was funny.
It took a few more laps around the lot to find a parking spot, but it was no big deal and my Christmas spirit was not hobbled in the least.
Humming my favourite Christmas carol as I ambled toward the distant front door, I ran through the mental list of what I wanted to get everyone.
Entering the mall was an assault on my senses. There were people everywhere, Christmas songs were playing over the sound system, kids were crying, people were scurrying too and fro and cash registers were dinging away.
Yup, sounds like Christmastime to me.
After a couple hours of jostling with the frenzied masses, I completed my list and was able to escape the chaotic confines of the shopping centre and return to my car – if only I could remember where I parked it.
I remembered where the good parking spot was (where Grumpy Gertrude's car still sat) but it took a while to find my own vehicle.
I found my car, went home, wrapped the gifts and vowed to never again wait until the last minute to do my shopping.
And I kept that vow – right up until the following Christmas where I once again found myself at the mall days before Dec. 25.
Eventually I wizened up and started doing my shopping earlier. This year, I        completed my list a full two weeks before Christmas.
That's right gentlemen, I am done my Christmas shopping.
Joy to the world.

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