Return to the Land of Brick and Mortar
June 15th, 2008

Online shopping is one of the great conveniences of our modern society. With a few simple clicks, I can get just about anything I need delivered right to my door. Nothing ruins the shopping experience more than human contact and social interaction, and in the virtual marketplace, I have none of it.

For this reason, my heart is sunk with depression. Father’s Day is tomorrow and my dumbass self forgot to order something for him ahead of time. Now I actually have to get up and go to a mall, something I’ve done as little as possible ever since I became old enough to get a check card several years ago.

As I walk out the door, my father sees me pass by.

“Where are you going?” he asks.

“Out shopping to get you a Father’s Day present.” I reply.

“You still haven’t gotten one? What kind of a son are you?”

“The kind who cares so much that he’s willing to wait until the last minute to get you something. So is there anything in particular that you want?”

“Well, I could use a new fishing reel or maybe a new lawn chair.”

Yeah, he’s going to love the DVDs I pick up for him.

DVDs are a God-send. Without them, it could require actual thought and effort to buy a gift for someone. Just about everyone who receives a gift from me at any point in the year gets one of these. I don’t care if they are a bit impersonal. They’re easy and people are always pleased to get one, so why fix what isn’t broken?

The drive over to the store is a breeze, but that’s the easy part. As soon as I step out of the car, I’m like a five-year-old child again. Although I am in decent physical shape, my legs are tired and I want to go home.

I cannot help but cringe a little as I step into the store. From waiting in lines to not being able to find things, so many hours of my life were lost here over the years.

“Hello, welcome to StoreMart,” the greeter says.

Oh, fuck off!

“Hi, how are you,” I reply with a smile.

The store is packed with people and it’s a dreary sight. I’m not going to pretend that I’m any kind of expert on the best ways to spend a Saturday afternoon, but I know they shouldn’t be wasted here.

Even when I’m a customer myself, customers are still fucking morons.

“Excuse me, do you work here?” a woman asks me.

Yeah, I work here. That’s why I’m not in a uniform or wearing any sort of company apparel.

And I know that voice, too. It’s the voice of “I have a dozen stupid questions to ask.” While it feels good to tell the woman that, no, I don’t work here; I cannot help but pity the store worker she inevitably tracks down.

As I walk over to the entertainment section, all I can think to myself is, “Damn, this store stinks like cat piss. I’m going to need a shower when I get home.”

When I arrive there, I’m ready to take care of business. That is, if only this group of teenagers would move out of the way so that I can browse and stop staring at the same fucking movie case for minutes on end.

At last, they leave and I can pick up my gifts, but selecting DVDs is a delicate process. How am I to accurately pick the movies that match the delicate tastes of my father?

“Let’s see, random action movie, random comedy movie, and random action-comedy movie. Ok, I’m all done here.”

Yes, men really are that easy to shop for and that’s why they’re awesome.

Now it’s time to get the hell out of here. I power walk my way to the registers. Every second sooner that I get there could mean one less mother of four shopping for her entire family that I get stuck behind.

My effort is valiant, but proven futile. About two dozen people are trying to pay for their items and only two registers are open. I don’t get upset, because years of experience have taught me to expect this to happen. There’s nothing else to do but wait it out and daydream in order to tune out all the inane chatter and high-pitched children’s voices.

Twenty minutes later, I’m next in line, but then I get hit with one of the worst nightmares in the history of consumerism. The lady in front of me is paying for her items with a check. As in personal check. As in dig around in my purse for my checkbook and a pen, slowly fill it out, and watch it take forever for the cashier to process it, because despite working there for three years, this is the first time she ever had to do this because you’re one of like 200 people left in the whole world that still pay for things this way.

I really thought people like this were extinct by now. The idea of having a checking account but not a check card well into the 21st century boggles my mind.

Finally, it is my turn.

“Three DVDs, that comes to $46.28.” the cashier says.”

“Here you go,” I say as I hand her 50 dollars in cash.

“All right, here’s your change, thank you and have a nice day.”

“Thank you.”

Time of transaction: 37 seconds. Now was that so hard? And also, "you’re welcome" to the people behind me in line.

I breathe a sigh of relief, at last I can leave, or can I?


I set the god damn sensors off at the door. The alarm brings out the newsbag in us all as everyone around me is now wondering if I’m a thief, because like all thieves, I’m standing there patiently waiting for the security guard to gradually make his way over.

The guard checks my bag and receipt.

“Sorry about that, sir. Have a nice day.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, fuck this place. I wish I had stolen something.


Yes, folks, 1-Click ordering is a beautiful thing.

Despite all the hassle, I can at least hold my head high knowing that I managed once again to prove my love to my father through the obtainment of material goods. It always feels good to successfully fulfill one's minimum obligation to a commercialized holiay.

But seriously, that is saying something. Mainly because I totally wouldn’t have done this for my mother.

Had this been the day before Mother’s Day, I would have been all like, “Gee, I ordered your gift online weeks ago, but due to a shipping error, it won’t get here until three to five business days from now. Sorry, but those are the breaks.”

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