Happy shoppingComments Off
m posted in General moans on November 23rd, 2005
It’s an oft-made observation, I’m sure, but these frantic, limited-time, super sale periods in otherwise placid department stores really do deliver nascent evil.
I’m not sure what prompted this, but recently I’ve noticed that I haven’t really bought any new work shirts for about 9 years. Yes, I’ve bought a daft number of shirts for other uses (birthdays, weddings, holidays, police line-ups, funerals, etc.) but none for work. So in the office, I end up wearing shirts I might have thought wise purchases some time in the mid-nineties (the decade, rather than the age bracket), but which now make me feel self-consciously beardy. They’re not offensively loud or stupidly dated, but the office is starting to be populated by people who might seriously consider skating into work during the summer and snowboarding to O’Brien’s for their winter lunchtimes, and I feel increasingly foolish in my Debenhams workwear.
So, what to do about the deepening shirt crisis? A trip to Debenhams. I thought I’d just grab half a dozen shirts from a rack, pay for them, then get home and try them on over the period of a couple of weeks. But on the way into town, last Thursday evening (for Thursday is “late opening” night in Bristol… “late” as in “7pm” - 2 hours earlier than other local shops) I was informed that this was the second day of the Debenhams 48 hour sale extravaganza. They were open until midnight on both nights. So I expected a scene of mild devastation when I got to the shop front. It would be a half-truth to say that the reality met my expectation, as the reality was a little more like my expectation of a brawl backstage at a 1980s revival tour. Phil Oakey’s smashing Marilyn over the bonce, in order to snatch a glittery blouson from the smug hands of Heaven 17.
Surprising myself, I made it into the shop without kicking anyone in the face. As I battled my way through the hoards of apparently pregnant shoplifters, opportunistic hobos and ring-buying couples, I spotted the Debenhams World Of Shirts section. Striding purposefully over the corpses of unsuccessful bargain-hunters, I made a lunge for the Ben Sherman shirt rack. The rack was largely empty, though the floor surrounding it was carpeted with fashionably garish “Carnaby Fit” shirts and skin-tight t-shirts for waifs, boybands and any other artificial social grouping that contains a disproportionate number of homosexuals.
I tried to look round a few other bits of the shop, but was constantly batting people out of the way, or walking into those who were executing The Sale-shopper’s Emergency Stop whenever they caught the scent of a discounted leather jacket. Having gathered a couple of shirts together, I made my way over to a crowd of people who were behaving like a queue. They were within 50 feet of a checkout, but could also have been queuing for the changing rooms, or the store detective’s interview room. I’d been in the shop for 10 minutes, and was starting to work out the discount I was going to get from my pathetic selection of shirts. It worked out at about £15. So the choice was simple;
Considering the size of the queues, and the continually escalating NCP cost, did I really value my own time at less than £10 an hour? What sort of imaginary signal am I giving to the imaginary waiting list of imaginary prospective employers, whose imaginary advances I’m currently having to fight off (in my head)? No, I want a return of £40 an hour, thanks. I’m not going to be sucked in by the false economy of this sale. Save £15, but lose at least £40 in lost earnings? You must be mad. Or rather, I must be. Nobody was paying me to be anywhere else on Thursday evening, so I think my imaginary calculations had got mixed in with the real life ones, and left me throwing the shirts into someone else’s basket and fleeing the store like a fire-arsed flea.
I went back to the shop on Saturday, when the madness had died down, and bought one shirt. It was the only one on the rack that was in my size, and which didn’t have a muddy footprint or anyone’s blood on it. I think they’d hosed the mid-week sale victims from the floor, and put the shop’s remaining stock back onto whichever rack was nearest the location of its panicked abandonment. I ended up paying a tenner more than I might have on Thursday night, but I felt far calmer about the whole process, and less like a decapitated chicken in a 6-floor, escalator-served abattoir.
I’m going to do all my Christmas shopping at Amazon, I think. If anyone doesn’t want books or CDs, please point me at a suitable ebay item in good time.