Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Comfortable shoes

March 29, 2010

I am no fashion guru (that was just a general comment, not a polling question so just leave it alone) but lately I’ve been seeing a lot of people (mostly women) with shoes that are way too big for them. Like this young woman I saw recently, she was dressed up in all black, looking very nice in her tailored outfit, and bright green shoes. She looked nice, made me take a second look………at her shoes.

I couldn’t figure out, for the life of me, why if you wore bright green shoes in a manner that drew attention to your bright green shoes, you would wear bright green shoes that were obviously TOO BIG. I figured it was an anomaly…….until I started seeing people with oversized shoes on a daily basis. I started to feel like the kid in The Sixth Sense…….I see big shoes.

So I’m really interested in this apparent new fashion statement. I know that buying big shoes is the norm for kids, because they’re growing. If you’re lucky, they’ll grow into them before they’re completely destroyed. But I’m talking about adults here, if your foot grows anymore,you may need to see someone about that.

Being fashionable can be expensive so maybe they’re just buying cheap shoes. Many of us remember (at least I do) going into the store to get that first pair of “dress shoes”. Your mother picks out what she thinks is a nice pair or leather shoes, and asks the salesman for your size. The salesman comes back with the shoe…….and a shoe horn. For the next several minutes you struggle to get the thing on. It’s kinda “snug”, but they (your mother and the salesman) both agree……”that is good leather, it will stretch”. Well maybe they don’t have green shoes in “good leather”.

Now this is not a woman’s issue, (lest I be labelled a sexist). I’m pretty sure we’ve all at some point or other seen the guys with the court jester shoes…..you know the ones that curl up at the front? Well if they went shopping with my wife, there is no way they’d leave the store with a shoebox the size of a briefcase.

Reminds me of the time my wife and I did go shoe shopping. I had these sandals I really loved and one of the buckles broke, so I went to get a new one (I’m easy that way, no need to fuss, if I like it ,I buy another one just like it). We walk into the store, I see my sandals, I ask for my size, then the salesman starts to get all scientific on me. He pulls out his foot measuring thingy, measures my foot then literally adds a size to it. Dude is standing there trying to convince me that this was my ideal shoe size, scientifically proven and all that. In the meantime, my wife is standing behind me “quietly” grumbling, and saying things like “crap” and asking questions like “who he feel we look like?” Needless to say,I left the store with sandals in a “less than ideal” size.

Hmmmm…….maybe that salesman became so incensed, he went off and started a revolution in shoes or something, and he was somehow able to convince people that these shoes really were the “ideal size”. Or maybe, he’s not really a shoe salesman but he manufactures slings and casts, and figured out the ideal way to drum up business.

Whatever the reason for the big shoes, I’m not jumping on that bandwagon. Those sandals I bought………they stretched.

Here’s a tip……

March 20, 2010

I need some help with this one. Let me preface this though, by saying that I do leave tips when I eat out. Sometimes I even leave tips when I feel like I shouldn’t.Pretty much all of us dine out from time to time. Some. more often than others, so I was just wondering if there were others out there who feel a little put upon sometimes when it comes to the whole tipping thing?

Come on, you have to admit, though that there is something a little bit confusing about just giving away extra money for no apparent reason. Have you ever gone into a store, to buy, let’s see……a watch;

“How much is that watch?” says you.
“$50” says the salesman.
“Hmmm………..how about I pay you $60 and you don’t even need to wrap it?” says you.
“In that case I also have several other items over here that you might be interested in ….” says the salesman as he calls his wife to tell her “Honey, maybe we can take that vacation after all”.

Doesn’t seem to make a whole bunch of sense now does it?

Still, lets look at some of the reasons people offer as to why we should give money away. By far the strongest argument is, “well you know they only make $2.13 an hour?”. Now that’s not even an argument. That is one of those between a rock and a hard place kinda things, the proverbial low blow, below the belt, no fair and all that. I mean what exactly are you supposed to say in response to that? There is no easy way to respond without looking lower than the lowest form of life known to man (some people I know would say, that you’re so low, you need to stand on tip-toe to reach the white line in the middle of the road)so typically you leave it alone, pull out your wallet,leave a nice tip and be done with the whole thing. There are some people who try the old, “so what” argument, but these people generally end up living sad lonely lives,dying alone in “faciilties” with names like Shady Pines, while muttering to themselves, “I shoulda tipped”. So if you want to go down that road, its fine by me…..I just want to make sure that you have a clear sense of the risks involved.

Before we go on though, I just wanted to say, for the record, that I always leave a tip. I’m not suggesting that there could be repercussions or anything if you don’t (why does my steak look….uuumm….wiped?), I just always tip.

Then we have the ever so popular, “well you’re supposed to tip to show your appreciation for the service you received”. AHA!!!!!! For those among you who don’t tip, you pounce on this one, its what some people call “a gimme”, and you quickly respond,”well I didn’t appreciate the service. We made reservations, came here 15 minutes beforehand, told them we were here and STILL had to wait an hour before we were seated. Your hot date then says, “but…”at which point you interject with “but nothing!!!!!, they mixed up our orders, served us cold food, and never even apologized”. Unfortunately for many people when they are in this “zone of righteous indignation”, they are not able to accurately detect subtle hints, like when the aformentioned hot date suddenly gets up and says (in an extreeeeemely even tone), “I’ll meet you in the car”. (I think they have karaoke nights at Shady Pines if you’re into that kinda thing)

We also have the fancy schmancy Wall Street type explanation, Ahem, “we need to be able incentivize (is that even a word?) our entry level employees so that we could attain efficiencies on a global scale which would allow us to provide a product to our customers that is second to none. The people in these positions are the face of the organizatiion and it is a strategic imperative that these individuals feel motivated to give 150% (not possible) each and every time a customer walks through our doors. Ummmmm….riight! Hey!! I have an idea…how about you pay them more, that should incentivize the living daylights out of them.

So as you can see, we still haven’t gotten very far along. We still have to clue as to the why of the thing. I do think though that this is a good time to note that I always leave a tip, just in case (a new kind of sauce you say?).

How about the “how much”? Personally I’m a flat amount kinda guy. I tip in whole dollars, “as the spirit moves me” as they say. I’m not interested in percentages. You do a good job, you get a nice tip. You do a not so good job, you get a not so nice tip (okay, I admit it, I’m an enabler, but as the song says, you do you and I’ll do me). So the problem with my system is that you get a tip either way, which blows up the whole “incentivizing” argument…since most people will settle for something without having to expend too much effort.

Of course oftentimes, both the if and the how much are taken out of your hands with many places adding an automatic gratuity depending on the size of your party….can someone say variable tax?. Could you believe it? They tax you because too many people are eating at their restaurants at one time.

The whole tipping thing has become such a lucrative activity (I read somewhere it was about $14B annually) that almost everybody is getting in on the game. Apart from the traditional, waiters,barbers, etc., its gotten so people are just arbitrarily putting out tip jars and expect you to fill them up (panhandling is illegal in some states but obviously there are ways around everything). I fully expect one day to see someone open a new business establishment for the sole purpose of accepting tips. They won’t even go through the trouble of pretending to provide a service. They’ll even have drive through windows.

The point is, I have no real issue with tipping. I think however, we should be taking a more common sense approach to the thing. Enough with all the tipping etiquette (who came up with all these percentages anyway), if someone does a good job and you feel inclined to show your appreciation, then by all means do so, if you’re not so inclined (or maybe you can’t afford it)then you should be able to walk away without the stigma of “cheapskate” attached you. And if they do a poor job, you should be able to leave with a clear conscience. After all, you did pay for your meal.

Anyway, that’s just my take on the whole thing. I think that if we are allowed to be guided by our own sense of appreciation and the people we tip by a sense of service, then the whole relationship becomes a more fulfilling one all around. As it stands the whole thing seems like a game of “one upmanship” with big tippers trying to outdo each other and servers etc. practising “financial profiling” on the other end.

What did you say this was floating in my drink….

Clean up on aisle 5!!!!!!

March 6, 2010

So my wife sends me to the supermarket the other day (one of the things wives do very well by the way). I don’t usually mind though because then I get to use that great timesaver, the epitome of efficiency….. self checkout. Now who could find anything bad to say about a system whose sole purpose is to get you out of a busy supermarket as quickly as possible (ok, so maybe that’s not the sole purpose….you do have the whole if we can get shoppers to pack their own stuff, while ringing up their own purchases, then maybe we could save some money by hiring less cashiers thing). Basically self checkout is the supermarket’s way of hiring literally thousands of employees without having to pay a red cent, no insurance no nothing, but that’s another story.

I will confess that I am a self checkout junkie. As long as there is self checkout, I will use it. Not for me the talkative cashier behind the counter, or even worse the not so talkative one who hates her job. I am drawn to the sense of power you feel from scanning your own tomatoes. (Sure, go ahead and snicker, you know you like hearing that beep that lets you know your item has been properly scanned.)

But I digress, what I really want to talk about, is not the self checkout counter itself, but rather the people who decide to avail themselves of the benefits of that facility. Now I am one of those people who starts planning their exit the moment they set foot inside the door of the supermarket. It’s not because I’m super smart, or that I have the legendary Type A personality. Nothing so exciting. I just hate hanging around in grocery lines, which is why I head for self checkout, credit card and supermarket club card in hand, looking to make a quick exit. Thing is though, hanging around in grocery lines isn’t very popular so a lot more people decide to take control rather than subject themselves to the mood swings of one of the cashiers mentioned above. Which is where the problem lies.

While patiently standing in line, waiting my turn, I begin to notice some of the people in line with me and I come to a sudden, stark realization……. SELF CHECKOUT IS NOT FOR EVERYONE!!!!!

Dude, if it takes you 3 minutes to find the barcode on a bottle of ketchup, then maybe you should leave the scanning up to the experts. GO join a line with a cashier. Oh and while you’re heading over there,take your buddy with you who insists on paying cash (credit cards are the devil), which is not in itself a problem, but do you really need to have your bills crumpled up to such a state that they cannot fit into the slot? Aaahhh, there he goes, wiping the bills on his shirt trying to flatten them out. That will certainly work.

Then there’s Ms. Assembly Line. This is the lady who scans her items at this end, then after each item, she walks (note I said walks)to the other end to immediately pack the item she just scanned. Seriously, this somehow makes sense to her.

Ms. Assembly Line is followed by the social butterfly of the group (I swear,there’s one in every crowd). She is the one who feels moved to talk to anyone who would listen. Not a big deal really,it helps pass the time,but my thing is, is it only me or does it seem like there is some requirement that for you to be a sucessful social butterfly, you must meet two criteria; 1)have a medical condition that requires multiple invasive surgeries, 2) have a willingness, no a burning desire to share the intimate details of those surgeries, along with your recuperation with any unsuspecting soul who happens to make eye contact (for those who don’t make eye contact, you just speak very loudly to make sure they don’t feel left out. You know all those people you see who keep looking down, and we hear all the psycho babble about self esteem issues and what not, uh uh….they made eye contact.)

The social butterfly more often than not usually makes room for Mr. I’m Feeling Lucky. This is the guy, who eases into the space left by the social butterfly because she’s not minding her business, while pretending he did not see everyone else in line. Come on dude, all the other lines are stretching all the way to the back of the store. Why would you think this line only has three people? He, of course, is not peculiar to self checkout, he typically tries this stunt anywhere. It’s a pretty dangerous maneuver though since, depending on certain variables, crowd reaction could range from the polite; “Excuse me sir, but the line is back here”, to the downright nasty which could end in violence.

Then of course we have the techie,or rather the guy who claims to know a guy who’s a techie. This is the one who, when he gets to the console, pulls out a card,which does not belong to the supermarket he’s currently standing in, proceeds to scan this card, and is absolutely incredulous because it doesn’t work. After he tries a few more times, with the same result, he tries to explain to the others in line….”buddy o’mine…really good with computers…he says ya don’t really need a different card for e’rry grocery store….says it’s all about the money, so he fixed mine, so I only need the one card. Dunno why it ain’t workin though….sum’n must be wrong with the store’s computer system. Y’all see any managers around?”

And of course, no event is complete if iPhone guy isn’t there. Naturally, he downloaded an app that tells you the prices of stuff at OTHER supermarkets, which are signifcantly cheaper. iPhone guy, however, does not go to those other places (that would be way too easy, and he likes a challenge), so he comes here. Of course in addition to apps that tell him the weather in the Congo (you need to know this because?), he has this little gem that allows him to “store” all his cards in his phone. I’m sure you see where this is going.

Well I finally made it through self checkout. I was tempted to hang around though because as I walked through the door Ms. Count the Number of Items in Everyone Else’s cart was about to raise a stink over in express checkout……..10 items or less. Oh well there’s always tomorrow……..


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