Tag Archives: shopping

Remember the Golden Rule

If I’m going to be honest with you, I must admit I’ve never been much of a risk taker. Which doesn’t mean I haven’t taken a few bold steps in my lifetime. Like traveling 2000 miles (it was miles in those days) from my rather comfortable life in the “big city” to what some would say was a marginally habitable small metropolis (well it was in those days) located in one of the least hospitable climes of this rather large country of ours. Without any solid job prospects. In a very old car. On the cusp of winter. Ok. Now it’s starting to sound a little foolish to me. Or the time I went out on a limb and ordered a size smaller than I rightfully should have from my fav online retailer. In the end both turned out fine despite some moments of doubt and consternation along the way. But the truth is I am likely one of only a few people who resided in the “Gateway to the North” for 38 years and has never actually driven on snow and ice. And to save myself a trip to the mall I now only order what I know to be my tried and true size. Like it or not my inner self knows, and now so do you, that I am confidently risk averse. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Especially in times like these.

These are difficult times. Shallow as I may be I would never make light of the fact that the world, and hundreds of thousands of people in it, are suffering from what appears to be a disease that, to date, is beyond our control. When entire countries shut down to try to save their citizens we know we are in serious trouble. People are scared. They are scared to travel. Scared to go to a movie theatre. Or a sports event. As of today I’m guessing many people are scared about their financial future. And they have every right to be scared. Financial markets are suffering historic losses. Cruise ships are spending days travelling up and down coastlines waiting for a green light to dock. “Social distancing” has suddenly become part of our everyday vocabulary. People are dying. Most of them our cherished elders. And as if that’s not enough, Trump is still President. If there was ever a time not to take risks this just could be it. But even me, a confirmed non-risk taker, is a little flummoxed about what I see happening around town. 

Now I know it’s important to be prepared. For anything. Let’s face it. I live on an Island that is well known to have one of our earth’s cracks running right smack down the middle. So I have to have a kit for that. As would any reasonable person. It’s nothing over the top. Just a bag with some really important stuff should the lights literally go out. What I don’t have is five years worth of black beans, rice, chocolate chip cookies (even though they are my favourites) or 20 kg bags of flour. I mean how many loaves of bread can one person bake before little crawly things invade? But apparently I must be missing something as the last time I ventured into my local grocers (and I venture in quite a lot) many of the shelves were bare. It seems that people don’t want to risk running out of just about anything. And more than anything else they clearly don’t want to run out of Purell. Or, toilet paper.

I get the reason for wanting to have some Purell on hand. Who doesn’t need a little something to freshen up after touching the ATM or accidentally putting a hand on the escalator railing? Especially now when it is so important to keep one’s hands spotlessly clean. But anyone who has ever used any type of hand sanitizer must know that this is a situation where truly a little dab’ll do ya. One squirt and you can pretty much cover the territory. Those little bottles go a long way. Just imagine what a litre of the stuff will do. So here’s my advice. Next time you are standing in front of the shelf debating whether to empty it of its contents try to remember the golden rule. Because if you leave some for me I’ll be sure to leave some for you. That way, if either one of us happens to be unlucky enough to run out of the stuff, and it is most unlikely that either of us will, we’ll be able to come back and get some more. As for all the hoopla about the toilet paper, let me just say this is a respiratory illness and leave it at that.

Oh yea. Speaking of toilet paper. A couple of weeks ago we discovered we were running low. As is always the case we decided this warranted a trip to our local Costco where we could pick up our favourite brand and a few other items while there. Driving into the parking lot it seemed like just about any other day at the big box store. But as we approached the door I did notice that an extraordinary number of people seemed to have extraordinary amounts of toilet paper in their carts. Wonderful! I thought. There must be a sale on TP right when we need it.  Making our way to the back of the store, all the while succumbing to Costco’s dastardly marketing techniques, we arrived at a rather towering display of the tissues and much to our dismay, discovered there was nothing on sale. Nonetheless, we were in need so tossed a package into our cart.

It wasn’t until later that evening while watching the news that I became aware that I was one of the lucky few who managed to wrangle a pack because apparently everyone and their dog is worried about running out. My first reaction was “OMG! What was I thinking? Why the heck didn’t I pick up a few extra when I had the chance?” Then, as everyone should do at this stage, I sat back and thought about it. That package I managed to corral has 30 hefty roles in it. Should be enough for a good long while. I think I’m just going to risk it. Maybe you should too. 

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What’s My Favourite Colour?

colour_paletteI don’t really like to rant about stuff because, one thing I know for sure is that a lot of people have a lot more to rant about than I do. But there’s a time and place for everything and when I tell you what happened to me this weekend I’m pretty sure you’ll cut me some slack and agree that even for a shallow person like me, this is the time. However, before I continue, perhaps it would be best for me to set the stage.

Late last week the engine light on my car came on. It’s a solid, not a flashing light, so it’s entirely possible that this situation will turn out to be “no big deal”. The thing is, over the years my car and I have developed a symbiotic relationship of sorts. I take care of her and she takes care of me. So when a light like that comes on, it hurts not only because we have become so close but because you gotta know that an eleven year old car from the old country has the potential to cost a boatload of cash to fix. Which is why I started thinking about the possibilities and next thing I know I found myself standing in the middle of my local Dodge dealer’s lot.

Now I know you’re thinking “but she said she likes small, foreign cars and there’s no truer statement than that. Which means that at this point, and rightfully so, you may be wondering why I was meandering my way through the rows and rows of “Avengers” and “Challengers” cars, I might add, whose names belie their character. Well, as difficult as it is to believe, this particular lot is also home to the auto of my most recent dreams, (don’t get too excited, these “cars I can’t live without” dreams come and go like the goldfish I had when I was a kid) the Fiat 500. And there’s nothing smaller or more foreign than that. So it was with some anticipation and more than a modicum of excitement that I approached the nearest salesperson to see about taking one of these cute little puppies for a spin.

And now I’m afraid, I have a confession to make. As much as I openly celebrate my shallow way of life, the one thing I am not, nor ever will be shallow about, is cars. Perhaps it’s as a result of spending my formative years living with a couple of older brothers who routinely parked something cute and sassy in the driveway. Or perhaps it’s the fact that one of the two came by his nickname “Crash” quite honestly. No matter, whatever the reason I don’t take my cars lightly and I don’t expect others, especially those tasked with the job of hawking them, to do so either. So you can only imagine my disdain when the first question that emerged from my salesperson of choice’s mouth was “what’s your favourite colour?” Really! Did you really just ask me that? About a car? I mean if we were talking about a jacket, or paint or even my preference in cats, which by the way is black, orange and white, I’d understand. But cars? Not a chance.

Needless to say there was nothing left to do but leave. Oddly enough this evening I read about a new Fiat 500L due to come out this summer and it looks pretty cool. I can’t wait to take it out for a drive, and hopefully when I get to the dealer, they’ll have something in a pearl white for me to try.

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Sleeping in Seattle

Seattle skylinePicture this. You’re in the shoe department of Nordstrom’s on Black Friday and, in most people’s books, it’s pretty frenetic. Not that there are shoes flying everywhere or anything like that. I mean this is *Nordstrom’s* where a live pianist replaces the drone of the mood-altering Musak and shoes range in price from “ok I can do that” to “maybe not, I’d still like to eat this year”. And everything considered you gotta know that they’ve done this before because things go like clockwork. I mean you nonchalantly pick up a shoe and before you know it there’s someone with a loud speaker summoning help on your behalf. Almost instantaneously they provide you with not only the “E.T.A.” but just about all of the information you need to become good friends with your “shoe consultant” (their term not mine) which, in my case of course, might just happen. All in all, given the circumstances, it’s not a half-bad experience and, as my Mother would say, worse things could happen to you. This however, is apparently a sentiment not shared by the woman I unfortunately came to know when paying for my purchases.

I should make something clear. The shoe consultants at Nordstrom’s all work on commission which explains the great service you get and the fact that you are bound to walk out with more than you had planned. But who can’t use an extra pair or two of Tom’s especially when the design is exclusive to Nordstrom’s so there is no way you are going to pick them up once you are north of the 49th and anyway, you’ve just bought yet another few pairs of shoes for children in need. (Note: excessive shoe purchase justified.) And for the most part, they are nice people just like you and me who simply want to do the best job they can even on days like Black Friday. Which is why I found the “woman from New York City”(WFNYC), as I have now come to know her, particularly heinous.

I’m not one to make generalizations about extremely large populations of people but, according to WFNYC, all people in New York move quite a lot more quickly than the rest of us. And by the rest of us I mean (and again, I defer to her judgement here) the people of Seattle. Now I am aware that there is a slight tendency for those who are partial to life on the Pacific to be a tad laid back but I am not certain there was evidence of this in the flurry of activity I was witnessing behind the cash desk at Nordstrom’s on this, the busiest shopping day of the year. And yet, her conversation went something like this:

Shoe Consultant: Let me ring this up for you. Was there someone helping you today?
WFNYC: I can’t believe how slow things are here. Just ring the f—— thing up! (Might I add here that this is the first time since the inception of this blog that any such language has been used or alluded to but in this case I am afraid it is germane to the telling of the story so please accept my apology on her behalf.)
WFNYC: I’m from New York! I’m not used to this! Everyone is so slow here!
WFNYC: I can’t believe how slow they are here! I’m from New York! This would never happen in New York!
WFNYC: It’s so slow here! WTF!!!! I’m not used to this!!!!

Well as you can see this was a rather one sided conversation but more importantly, and what should be noted, was that the WFNYC was not only speaking like this to those of us who had the misfortune of being able to hear her but also to whoever it was that she was simultaneously talking to on her phone which solidified for me just how busy a person she really was. And how a delay of even a few seconds was eating into her otherwise “chock full of important things to do” day.

But wait. Isn’t this Black Friday? Is this not a holiday in the U.S. of A? Are not all of the businesses, other than retail closed on this day? And didn’t she mention once or twice that she was from New York? Would it be reasonable then to assume that she was not on her lunch break from work where, if she was a minute late to return would risk being fired on the spot? So where exactly was she going? Now I can’t say this for sure but given the day and the circumstances I’m thinking she was going to do more shopping. Which leaves me to wonder why it was that she couldn’t take a second or two to let the cashier know who had helped her buy her multiple pairs of boots and shoes so that sales person could be appropriately rewarded for their time. Because it seems to me that if you are sleeping in Seattle you should at least take the time to be decent to the people who live and work there.

And then a rather frightening thought occurred to me. For one split second I realized that I may just have met the person who is better placed to write this blog than I am. Good thing she will never have the time to do it.

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My New Friend

This week something very special happened to me. I made a new friend. A real, in person friend. Not one of those people who finds you on Facebook by searching “people who at some point in time lived in my city, went to my school, worked for my employer, and/or has a somewhat tenuous connection to me through a friend of a friend of a friend”. Don’t get me wrong. I have lots of those too which is fine since there’s not much maintenance and at least a couple of them probably take the time to read this blog each week. And sometimes it might even make sense to find friends that way.

The other day I went searching through the computer generated list of “friend possibilities” on FB and there amongst all the people who know people I know, was someone whose only common characteristic is that we share exactly the same name. Which I guess is not such a bad thing on which to base a friendship and, I will have to admit, almost made me want to send her a “friend request”. Because I started to imagine what would happen if everyone on FB friended everyone else with the same name. In my case it would generate nine new instant friendships but for some people I would imagine it could run into the hundreds. Think about it. All the people in the world who share the same name could eventually be friends. And every once in awhile they could arrange a get together in one of their cities and it would be really easy for them to meet each other because it eliminates a multitude of problems. No more embarrassing moments trying to put a “name to a face”. No more worries about where to place those silly “Hello, My name is…” name tags that often interfere with the presentation of your painstakingly put together ensemble. And if you have so much to drink that you can’t remember your own name, well there’s going to be someone around who can help you out. I’ll admit that checking in at the hotel could be a little problematic but you have to agree it does shine a whole new light on finding a place where “everyone knows your name”. But I digress.

For many of you who know me well you are probably surprised to find out that I have a new friend since you are accustomed to hearing me say that my “friend drawer is full”. And for the most part, it is. But there are times when you just have to find a little extra space, to make room for just one more paperclip in your mountain of office supplies. And this was that time. This week I made my new friend at the mall while paying for my purchases. Somehow during the usual vacant chit chat that occurs while totals are being tallied and credit cards are being charged, the cashier and I bonded. I mean really bonded. In that very short time I learned enough about her to know we have a ton of stuff in common.

She is 33 years old (ok we don’t have that in common) but she told me that she has lots of older friends so it’s ok. She has a university education and so do I. She recently moved to our city from my old stomping grounds in Ontario. She likes her new digs but she doesn’t like the cold, and I’m with her on that. She likes the same clothes that I do which kind of goes without saying since I was shopping in her store. And she loves a good sale which is how we met in the first place. This relationship moved along so quickly that before we knew it we were planning a shopping trip to Seattle which is, coincidentally where I am going this week, but since she can’t get the time off at such short notice will have to wait until next time.

Now I know some of you are thinking this may not be as real a friendship as I think it is and that I might be better off focusing on connecting with the same name people. But I’m happy with the arrangement that me and my new friend have. I mean let’s face it. She’s always going to smile when she sees me coming; she’s going to do whatever she can to help me out; and no matter what I put on, I’m pretty sure she’s going to tell me that I look great. And as Ms. Warwick would say “that’s what friends are for“.

But you know, now that I think about it, she doesn’t even really know my name.

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