Tag Archives: shopping

The Weirdness of Black Friday as a Detail-Oriented Person

28 Nov
Hey, it's a good point. (source)

Hey, it’s a good point. (source)

I will straight-up admit that I have never gone Black Friday shopping. The idea terrifies me. I already dislike shopping. So the idea of some day of mega-shopping-on-steroids-and-speed is rather unattractive. But as a detail-oriented person, the idea of this monster shopping is all the more repulsive. Why? Let’s discuss.

As a detail-oriented person, I take so frickin’ long to make decisions. My usual shopping strategy involves walking around the store, eyeing everything to make a mental list of what the store has to offer. Then, with an eye more to what caught my interest and what I’m looking for, I walk around the store again, looking at what things specifically fit that bill and discarding things from my mental list of available objects that aren’t relative. Then I walk around the store again, two to three more times, pausing to evaluate each of the items that I’ve decided I might buy, weigh the pro’s and con’s, double checking and triple checking my subjective analysis. I might carry an item with me for side-by-side comparison, or I might leave it behind to not bias my perception of the next prospective choice. Then, finally, if I’ve found something that fits what I’m looking for, is a price that I’ve deemed reasonable for this purchase, and actively makes me pleased when I think about having bought it, then I will probably buy it. Or I might just leave it and decide checking options online should happen before making any more purchases.

Detail-oriented. Neurotic. Indecisive. Deeply-fearful-of-making-“wrong”-choices-and-squandering-money-because-that’s-what-I’ve-had-beaten-into-me-since-childhood. They’re all basically the same thing, right?

But anyhoo. This whole decision-making purchasing process obviously takes a bit. Fifteen minutes. Fifty minutes. Something on that scale.

But my understanding is that on Black Friday, generally this whole shopping thing goes down something like Go! Go! Go! Storm the beaches! Claim your territory! Forge on with literal disregard for life and limb! TAKE NO PRISONERS BUT ALL THE ITEMS! QUALITY BE DAMNED! THIS IS A NUMBERS GAME, BOYS!!! 

Ahem.

Yeah, if I went Black Friday shopping, my likely outcomes are 1) obtaining zero items for purchase, 2) being trampled, and 3) freezing in a panic attack and blanching enough that someone assumes I’m a mannequin and attempts to purchase my clothes/me.

… that last one might be kind of hilarious, actually.

But… all those earliest-of-morning shoppers, aren’t they all some nerve-jittering combination of sleep-deprived and hyped up on caffeine? How do you even think in that state? Do you think, or do you just do some kind of weird muscle memory pattern of grab-buy-grab-buy-grab-guy?

I mean, I guess my aunt and grandmother are historically some of those early-morning shoppers. But they already get up early, so that, like, doesn’t count. Shhh. I can remember them planning out what they were going to purchase, knowing what to get and where to get it and for how much, based on the store’s coupons sent out earlier in the week. And my uber-planning-sensitivities are satisfied with that. But still, even if you walk into a store with a plan and studied, centered concentration, my general impression is that in this case you are the 1% and that the other 99 are all running around waving their hands in the air meme-style yelling WAAAAAH WHERE IS EVERYTHING WHAT IS THIS PLACE COUPONS COUPONS WHY DID WE FORGET THE COUPONS DO YOU HAVE THE COUPONS BILL RAAAAHWRWRWRWRWRWR! 

I dunno. Maybe it doesn’t go down quite that way. But still, even if you, with your plan and your coupons that you did remember to bring and tuck safely in your wallet and your thought-out idea of what you want, know what you’re doing, that’s a whole lot of chaos to deal with on your mission.

Wait.

Wait.

This… this could be excellent.

Guys, I am a detail-oriented person. I care about people. I value human life. I… I am also someone who kinda enjoys watching the world burn in chaos.

You know, in the controlled, nothing-too-tragic-is-happening kind of way.

Mostly.

Anyhoo. So Black Friday is chaos, right? What… what if stores capitalized on this show? Put up bleachers? Sold tickets to people who just wanted to come and watch? It would be like football! Americans like football! We’d have trainers on the side ready to rush out with water or bandages or whatever whenever one of the players got hurt. The audience could even root for individual shoppers. (“He’s comin’ down lane 1, George, will he make it to the end goal on time?” “I don’t know, Ted, that shopper with the Ninja legos seems to have shaped up since her last stretch and wants to add a few more scores to her basket.” George, George! Did you see that move?! A swerve left, a dodge right, but no! Collision!!! We haven’t seen a toppled cart like that since the show down in aisle three back at opening time!”)

… I might actually really enjoy planning this.

Well then. Chaos as a spectator sport. I think that would be a Black Friday purchase I’d deem worth investing in.

You know. Because of details and shit.

Ahem.

This is totally where I planned to go with this blog post.

Yeah.

Details.

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The Kindle Addiction

2 Feb

books in kindle

Lovely readers, I know that it is absurdly late for a typical day to be so desperately under-caffeinated as I am, but hey, it’s Sunday, and Sunday isn’t a real day, so you’ll just have to forgive me. Well, you don’t have to. But you get what I mean.

As I sit here on this Sunday morning I MEAN IT’S TOTALLY AFTERNOON AND I DEFINITELY DIDN’T JUST GET UP, sipping my way into my first cup of emotional and ever more physical addiction that is properly composed French-press coffee, I discover another addictive activity that the corporate behemoth that is Amazon has slowly dripped into my life.

Kindle shopping.

Now, I am not a shopper by nature. That genetic (or perhaps epigenetic) quality went to my sister. Growing up, my birthday money was more likely to go into the oddly unbreachable bounds of a plastic piggy bank than into yet another new handbag. Even when it came to “fake” money in the form of gift cards, I more often had to throw them away because they’d expired than because I’d used them all up. (Note: this has since changed in the case of book store and coffee shop gift cards. Bring ’em on.) Shopping? Especially clothes shopping? Terrifying activity. Oh god, the decisions, and the arbitrary evaluations… it’s quite honestly panic attack-inducing. Major ethical decisions? No problem. New wardrobe to replace the one I’d grown out of or worn to bits? Fuck no. Send me and my sister into the same store, and I’ll come out of the dressing room looking like a passably style-informed person. My sister? She’ll come out of the dressing room looking like a fucking super model.

I may have delegated all of my dress and shoe shopping to my sister for a few years back in high school…

But anyhoo. The Kindle. So, I do not like shopping. But I love books. Holding a new book in my hand and opening it up to a virgin page, the words of which I’ve never read before – might as well be shooting up heroine. Hand me a book to have, and you’ll induce some mega-oxytocin-bonding in my view of you for a while. And let’s be clear: I do prefer physical books. The shape, the size, the feel of the cover under your fingertips as you hold it on your lap or against your chest – it’s what makes a book an individual, an entity unto itself. There are memories that get enfolded between the pages, sensations locked into the very book itself. Time and again, I have clutched a book that’s been with me since childhood to my chest and cried while holding it, the same way you clutch onto a friend in a time of needing comfort. And the times that I’ve come across old bindings of books, first print run versions or tombs that have stood on shelves for decades – ooh, there is a magic to the crackle of opening that cover and gazing through the cloud of dust released into the air to the life of old ink within.

So. If you hold out your hands and offer me a physical book and a USB with its .mobi file on it, I’ll choose the physical book, every time.

Buuuuut sometimes I’m not offered that physical book. Sometimes, authors only release certain writing in Kindle form. And sometimes, Amazon’s lovely daily email to me that might as well be titled “oh, you just bought a book from us, so here are five hundred more we know you’ll enjoy funneling all your money to us for” doesn’t feature physical books – it’s about some releases for Kindle.

And those releases for Kindle… there is a seductive gleam to them. As I said, I am not a shopper. I flip out over spending money. But ah, therein lies the magic of Kindle advertisement. Amazon may send me an email about a book that I’d have quite the inner debate over when it would come to buying the physical version of the book – $15? Is this book really worth that? I could spend $15 on another book that I know I’ve been wanting to read. $15 doesn’t seem like a justifiable amount on a book impulse purchase… I should really just save this $15 anyway…

And tack on shipping costs? And the delay while I wait for the book to get here? $15 for a physical book that I don’t know much about becomes an inhibitory high cost to purchase. No new book for Miceala.

Enter Kindle.

What’s that? This book that I’m not so sure about has a Kindle edition? And I could have that book right now? (*cue dilated pupils and heavy breathing of a tempted book-lover*) And the Kindle version is only $5?

kindle buy

Done and done.

Behemoth Amazon really took a step back and figured out what they were doing when it came to creating Kindle. Instant gratification of owning a new book? Check. Reduce price to eliminate deliberation over justification of cost value? Check. Suggest five hundred billion other books you could have right now for less than the normal price of their hardcopy and not require you to re-enter your credit card information and so allow you the time to think about this purchase but rather let you hand us that money with one click and move on to the next morsel of literary goodness? Check, check, and check.

The space efficiency of Kindle is pretty damn attractive, too. I would have loved to have had a Kindle as a kid. I’ve always read pretty damn fast, so one measly book wasn’t going to cut it for a family trip somewhere. No, I needed at least two. Probably three. And then what if I changed my mind and decided I actually wanted to read one of these other two books? Better bring them too. And of course I have to add in this entire shelf, considering it’s my favorite series and is going to give me just as much comfort as bringing along a stuffed animal would have for another child.

And just like that, I’ve filled my two-foot-by-one-foot kiddo roller suitcase with fifty books and two items of clothing. Make that one item of clothing – couldn’t believe I’d forgotten I’d need that space to bring a notebook and pen!

Yeah, this kind of travel packing did not fly with my parents.

The first few times, I managed to get away with it. My parents would make some joke about “what are you bringing, bricks?” as they hauled my suitcase into the trunk of the car, and I’d just nervously mumble some non-words and hope my awkward laugh slid by.

But then, oh dear god, then, my mother decided to open my suitcase.

“WHY THE HELL ARE YOU BRINGING FIFTEEN BOOKS?! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! YOU CAN’T DO THIS! GO PUT THESE BACK!”

But Mom! I NEED them!

Yeah, that didn’t work either.

So, I’d have to mope back to my room, tear out a piece of my soul as I was forced to designate two thirds of my beloved books as not worthy enough to come along with me, and return to my parents with a much, much lighter suitcase.

Ah, but then I grew older, garnered a larger suitcase, and decided to try my hand at being devious.

Well, devious enough for a ten-year-old.

I’d learned that leaving my books in plain sight clearly wasn’t going to work. So I’d just have to hide them.

I learned to tuck my books into the various compartments of the suitcase, even behind the weird cloth strappy swath thing attached to the back of the suitcase that I think is supposed to go in front of your clothing to help stuff it in but I’m not really sure. I’d wrap my books inside shirts. Stuff them up pant legs. Stick them between layers of clothing. Then I’d put a decoy book or two on top of it all, to make it seem like I was still just leaving all the books I planned to pack out in the open. Of course, I never meant to read those books at all. I had ten others stashed away. Those decoy books were entirely expendable.

“Miceala, why is your suitcase so heavy? You’re not bringing lots of books again, are you?”

“NO!” *frowny huffy face meant to make me look clearly offended* “I’m only bringing two!”

*Parents open suitcase. Only see two books on top of clothes.* “Oh, well, okay then…”

Ahahahaha! I am a villainous mastermind!

A couple trips later, my parents learned to start looking *behind* all the clothes, and the gig was up. Damn them.

But my point here, other than to tell you all a very long story about one of the many things that made me a ridiculous child, is to point out that if I’d had a Kindle, this whole parent-child literary warfare could have been spared! I actually could have taken along entire shelves’ worth of books, all in one lightweight little technological gift from the gods. Had Kindle been invented when I was young and hungry for words and without more hours of homework than there are hours in the day to do it, I would have been unstoppable.

Or, you know, really pleased. Something like that.

And so here I am, I twenty-two-year-old writer with her own bank account and a Kindle she got some time around sophomore year of college. I’m really rather surprised I still *have* a bank account. You know, one where the digits that show up on my monthly statements aren’t in red because I dug myself into a literature-haze-fueled hole of debt from all the Kindle books I’ve bought.
The un-shopper in me may still have some hold on my inhibitions.
But anyhoo. Thus goes the story of my Kindle addiction. Click! Book. Click! Another book.
And oh! Have I mentioned the fantasies I’ve been having about Amazon’s latest e-reader release, the Kindle Paperwhite? “What’s that? You prefer that your ebook experience feel more like reading an actual book page than a laptop screen? Oh, okay! Well, here ya go then…”
Next thing, Amazon’s just gonna set up a system where we hook up an IV directly from our bank account to their Kindle headquarters. Seriously.
But oh, it would be worth it… 😉