Swamped. Fighting, drowning, losing, I was caught in the rip-tide. Swept along, dragged under, I couldn’t break free. I tried to reach out, grab onto something to be able to pull myself free but the first few times, I lost my grip. I continued moving along, coming up for air whenever possible, using everything I have in my power to fight against the swell. My life flashed before my eyes, my mindset shifted to another domain. Everything else in my life seemed trivial, unimportant for I had returned to natures primal instinct. The very essence of every living creature’s natural drive towards survival.
I reached out and grabbed hold of a rail with some badly designed “fashionable” woolly jumpers with large collars, irrelevant buttons and elbow patches. I managed to pull myself free.
But it was my own fault. I haplessly wandered into the post Christmas Next sale.
The rails of reduced items with people swarming all over them, foaming at the mouth. It was like watching a nature programme with hyenas feasting over a fallen zebra. Instead of the innards splaying all over the floor and a bloody mess there are t-shirts and trousers that haven’t been put back on the rail properly by the wide eyed bargain hunters. Those clothes on the floor will not be picked up by any potential customer for they are on the floor and therefore unworthy of purchase. They have fallen by the wayside, dirty now that they are on the floor. That is until the sales staff pick them up later and put them back on the rail. Then it’s open season again.
Post Christmas sales. What joy they are. They’re a bit of a cheek really aren’t they? I see it as a piss take. The shops are laughing at us. “Ha ha haaa. You paid £40 for this a week ago. Now it’s £20. Sucker! But you had no choice, it was for Christmas! Ha ha haaa!”
But still, we feel the need to go to the sales don’t we? We must go. We need things and it is the only time that we can guarantee there’s a chance of those things being cheaper. We might pick up a bargain. And so, we too become a shopping hyena.
I only wanted to buy some work trousers. They were a necessity as I was going back to work in two days time. Plus I still had that Next voucher that I received some time ago. I had no excuse to allow me to avoid the mania. But as I walked past the threshold I was still caught by surprise and swept up in the melee.
I did manage to find some trousers. But not in the sales section. Of course not in the sales section. The sales section is full of crap. “Wow this £50 shirt has been reduced to £15. What a bargain! It’s a shame it’s got a furry collar and that it’s high-vis pink.” It’s also a shame that it’s one of these trendy non iron shirts. No, not the ones that don’t crease to alleviate the need to iron, the ones that are constantly creased and crumpled by design and looks like something a student left under their bed for 3 years. The shirts that you would never physically be able to iron. I must be getting old. These modern styles, I just don’t get them.
But I exaggerate a little bit because not everything is totally disgusting. There are actually some decent things to wear and some great bargains. You just have to be an XL or an XXL to wear them.
Perhaps I should become obese so that I can take advantage of these sales. Hey, what I spend in my increased food bill, I save in the post Christmas sales and there’s no way I’ll get swept along by the crowd. Oh no. For I will be like a rock in a sales pandemonium stream! A happy, fat but fashionable rock, because I’ll be getting some great bargains.
Before purchasing the trousers I had to try them on. I joined the queue waiting to enter the changing rooms. Well, I say queue, there was one bloke waiting. By standing behind him, together, we had now created an obvious, visible for all to see queue. As we were queueing to the right of the doorway to the changing rooms there were women standing on the left side waiting for their men to come out and model their potential purchases. Middle aged men desperately holding onto their youth and failing to embrace baldness. Trying to have a fashionable haircut and still use hair products, but it’s all in vain. It’s pathetic.
Out they come swaggering with a fancy pink, crumpled shirt with a furry collar only to face their wives looking at them with those eyes. The “You look terrible,” eyes that ladies have an ability to project deep into a man’s soul. Mrs Grump has given me those eyes before as I’ve stepped out of a changing room. You know when you see them. They don’t even have to say anything. “What do you think Lo….. Ok, I’ll take it off.”
As I waited, I saw two or three men come out to model to their wives with a look of hopeful enthusiasm. A look that is searching for acceptance. Please let this be The shirt. Please tell me I look like Luke Goss in this shirt! Do I? Do I? She’s giving me those eyes again! Bollocks!
Their women take on the role of Simon Cowell. If it’s a yes, they happily go through to the next round, the checkout stamina round. If it’s a no, the man hangs his head in shame after being destroyed by the cruel dismissal and facial expression given by their woman and he sadly wanders back, defeated, into the changing rooms.
Men like to look good. But on a basic, primal level it is ingrained that Men lift, Men carry, Men build flatpack, Men reverse park, but equally, Men need don’t know what looks good, hence the need for Women when we shop. Perhaps one day we will evolve.
Great look Will!
Must be busy, I thought. There were at least half a dozen changing rooms in there but no-one staffing it to take note of the items going in and to advise when a cubicle becomes free. A man comes out, happy with his wife’s approval of the snazzy purple skinny jeans, fully enthused and ready to take on the checkout stamina challenge. So the guy in front of me goes in and I am now front of the queue. But then again, is one person classed as a queue? Another five minutes goes by and then another man comes out. He’s not so happy and he throws the Mr Men t-shirt onto a random rail discarding the item. He was about 47 so I guess a Mr Men t-shirt wasn’t the most suitable style choice.
I go in and was “overjoyed” to see there were at least 4 free cubicles. It was clear that I had stood outside, forming a queue for absolutely no reason. The guy in front of me had not had the common sense to check whether there were any free cubicles and just stood there waiting. I wrongly assumed he had reasonable intelligence and so joined him in the wait for a free cubicle which was one of several, a mere few feet from where I was standing. Another example of the joy of general public. You can’t always spot the ones who would easily get distracted by a balloon. Oh well, I didn’t want those 15 minutes anyway. He could have had the courtesy to tell me there were free cubicles. But then again, perhaps he was embarrassed. Or perhaps he got lost in there.
I emerged from the changing rooms with my trousers, ready to enter round two. Mrs Grump wasn’t with me. There was no need. There was no style choice going on here. Just plain black trousers for work. It’s all about functionality not fashion in the work place. As I emerged from the changing rooms I noticed there was a solitary man who had been waiting for someone to come out and as I walked out, he wandered in. I had just walked past a few empty cubicles. He was another who lacked the common sense gene it would appear. Someone who had to have the word “breathe” tattooed on the inside of their eyelids to remind themselves with every blink.
But as I scoffed at the apparent stupidity, heading towards the massive queue, it dawned on me that he might have originally waited behind someone else, hence forming a queue and was in fact, non the wiser.
Yes, just like me.
So it then also begs the question, did the guy who left before I went in, wonder if I was a douche with no common sense!?
Round two. The checkout stamina challenge. Also known as the massively huge meandering Next Sale queue for the checkouts. Obviously I was at the back of the queue, always the worst place to be. It’s so daunting to see so many people who are going to be served before you. It’s as daunting as opening the first page of a massive book or knowing you have to get through the Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman Cheese fest of a movie, Australia. But, the joy of Next sales is that you’re not at the back for long. Luckily for the hyenas, it was “all hands on deck” or should I say, “all hands on the checkouts.” The pile of sales items lying redundant on the floor will have to wait.
So the queue was flowing along at a steady pace. It’s not that long until you’re at the front. You had been a mindless bored zombie for the past ten minutes shuffling along with everyone else, resembling a chain gang. But how we wake up when we’re at the front! Who’s paying? Who’s going to walk away first? How much is he buying? Is she getting her card out? Our eyes frantically search along the line of checkouts to see which one will come free next. We get a little excited, keen, ready to dash to it because it’s the final hurdle before we escape the mania that is the Next Sale.
And then we hear it. “Who’s next please!” or maybe we see a little head in the distance lean over the checkout and shout “Do you want to come down?!” GO GO GO GO GO as we dash behind other customers and with all smiles arrive at the checkout with the person who will be serving us and carrying out the transaction. It’s almost over.
But they don’t smile back. Why? Because they have been drained of all emotions. The monotony of serving people over and over and over again in the lead up to Christmas and now the sales season is here, there’s no respite. Look into their eyes and you will see an emptiness, a hollow into a mind that has lost all independent thought. Look at the cashier and their colleagues and they are all dressed the same and are all saying exactly the same lines. Notice how they no longer have any tonal changes to their voice. Notice how it is the same empty drivel that they say three million times a day for weeks on end. They are automatic. They are mechanical. They have become robots.
“Do you want the hanger in the bag?” “That’s (enter monetary figure) to pay” “Would you be interested in a store card which gives you 20% off your first purchase?” (Knowing that you will say no and when you do, not even a flicker of disappointment) “Pop your card in………….check the amount and enter your pin.” “Would you like the receipt in the bag?” You say thank you and good bye but it’s no good, there is no response because C3PO is already shouting “Do you want to come down?!” to the next person on the Next consumer conveyor belt.
Finally I take a wide berth around the sale racks to avoid getting dragged in again and as I reach the door I think, “Shall I get some underpants while I’m here?” I think not.