Sunday, February 25, 2007

Don't Make It Seem Like You Are TRYING to Get Off the Phone With Lori

At the end of a two hour phone conversation with my sister:

Lori: “Well, okay, I guess I’ll let you go.”

Me: “Alright.”

Lori: “Why did you agree so quickly?”

Me: “Huh?”

Lori: “I don’t like how you were so willing to go.”

Me: “Um…I meant, ‘that’s a shame that you have to go, Lori’.”

Lori: “That’s better. Love you mean it.”

Me: “Love you, bye.”

Sunday, February 11, 2007

With Me, Even Buying T-Shirts Can Be an Adventure

I hate shopping at discount clothing stores. I do it because I am, more than anything else, a cheap-ass, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it. I went into Ross Dress for Less today with only two things to buy: V-neck undershirts and black dress socks. I knew where the socks were, so I decided to hunt down the undershirts first.

Pop Quiz Question #1: Can anyone tell me exactly which five minutes of the entire year Ross’s undershirt shelves aren’t a disorganized disaster?

There was absolutely no rhyme or reason to the way the undershirts were arranged. I’m pretty sure the display was put together by vandals. V-necks were mixed with crew-necks and tank tops. Medium size was mixed with XXL. Calvin Klein was mixed with Polo. Some of the packages were upside down, some were backwards, some were open or torn, and nearly all of them were presented in a way where you couldn’t see the size. You had to dig through and look at every single package to see if it was exactly what you wanted.

This can’t be an accident. I’m fairly certain that Ross has a Customer Impediment Program to make sure you never get what you want without a lot of work and frustration. If Ross employees see you heading towards a display that some bonehead rookie employee accidentally actually organized, they’ll distract you momentarily while another employee runs ahead of you and firebombs it. “Death before Customer Satisfaction” is their motto. There could be stern warnings from management:

Manager: “Suzie, I heard a rumor that about twenty minutes ago a customer in Men’s Undergarments almost found what he was looking for.”

Employee: “I’m sorry! I swear it will never happen again!”

Manager: “If it does, you'll be updating your resume.”

So, after digging for what seemed like two college semesters and inspecting every darn package, I found exactly zero V-necks in my size. It’s just as well, because I’m fairly certain if I would have found one, an employee would have leapt from behind the Ties and Belts display and squirted mustard on it, then dematerialized into thin air before I could complain. Since I was not going to wait in a long checkout line just for the socks (Ross apparently has about three cashiers in the entire state of Florida at any one time, and two of them are on break), I left without making a purchase.

Pop Quiz Question #2: What store do you think I, utilizing the common sense of spackle, chose next? (Hint: It’s a place you can buy a plasma TV, eggs, new tires, a haircut, Pop Tarts, and a family portrait, all after being greeted by a genuine dead person.)

That’s right: I went to Super Wal*Mart. Surely a store so big that it probably has its own military force would have V-necks in size XL. Thankfully, it did, along with everything else on my list of crap to buy. What a relief! I got all I needed in one place and all I had left to do was wait…in…line. HOLY COW. Where in the heck did all those people come from? Every register had a hellacious line in front of it. I needed binoculars to see the actual cashiers. I tried to pick a fast line, and ended up settling on a spot behind a man and his seven-year-old son.

Pop Quiz Question #3: With all the lines at a bustling Wal*Mart, how adept do you think I am at picking the fastest one?

If you answered anything like “pretty good”, you are, no offense, even stupider than I am. I picked the slowest line in Wal*Mart history. I think, at one point, we were moving backward. As I looked out the glass doors, I saw the sun go down and then come up again. I saw seasons change. I noticed the seven-year-old in front of me now had a full beard and was calling his wife. Tumbleweeds were blowing by. I turned around to see shoppers steering their carts around the decaying corpses of the people in line who just couldn’t make it.

But I did make it. And by golly, I may be receiving Social Security checks now, but I am going to wear these damn undershirts and socks while doing it.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

My Price Would Never Be Right

I found out recently that Bob Barker will finally retire from hosting “The Price is Right” game show, effective early this year. This is sad to me for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that watching the show always seemed to bring me back to my childhood. And why wouldn’t it? In the thirty plus years I’ve been watching it, nothing has ever changed. Same charming host, same gorgeous models, same idiot games, same ghastly stuck-in-the-sixties set, same moron contestants. Tuning in to The Price is Right is like going through a time warp. You could flip it on tomorrow and not be surprised if there were a news break announcing President Nixon was resigning from office, or that Challenger just exploded.

That said, I have always wanted to compete on the show, but only with Bob Barker as the host, which means I’ll probably never get the chance. This is just as well, because there is one part of the show I absolutely detest. During the opening segment, where contestants bid on one item to see who gets to play an idiot game, I hate, and I mean really loathe, when a contestant bids exactly one dollar more than the previous contestant. I root for the latter contestant to lose. I don’t know what I would do if I were the victim of that strategy. I’d probably kick the guy under the podiums:

Bob Barker: "The first item up for bid is a beautiful pool table by Snotwick Industries. Joe, what's your bid?"

Me: "One thousand, Bob."

Bob Barker: "And Fred, what is your bid?"

Fred: "One thousand and one, Bob."

Bob Barker: "And Martha, what--"

Fred: "OWWW!"

Bob Barker: "Um…uh, Martha, what is--"

Fred: "BOB! This jackass next to me is kicking me!!"

Me: "I don't know what he's talking about, Bob."

And I just know it wouldn’t end there. "One-Dollar-More" bidders always keep up their strategy, and I, being the stubborn mule I can be, would continue to give retribution. The second round:

Me (whispering to Fred): “If you outbid me by one dollar again, You’re going to find that microphone jammed right up your—"

Bob Barker: “The next item up for bid is a gorgeous set of American Terrorist luggage. Joe, what is your bid?”

Me: (Giving Fred a dirty sideways look) “Um, eight hundred, Bob.”

Bob Barker: "And Fred, what is your bid?"

Fred: (smugly) “eight hundred AND ONE, Bob.”

(The camera starts jerking wildly as you briefly see a fist connect with Fred’s jaw before complete pandemonium ensues. Podiums are knocked over. Martha gets clocked by a wild punch. After a commercial break order is restored.)

Bob Barker: “I apologize for the interruption. Martha, what is your bid on the luggage?”

Martha: (bleeding above her right eye) “Can I just go back to my seat?”

Martha may want to give up, but not me and Fred. The hate between us would make Osama bin Laden and George W Bush look like a happy gay couple. You would be able to cut the tension with a hacksaw. By the third round we’d both be ready to kill the other:

Bob Barker: "The next item up for bid is—"

Me (seething): “A BILLION DOLLARS, BOB!”

Bob Barker: "Wait, you don’t even know what—"

Fred (snarling): “A BILLION AND ONE, BOB!”

Bob Barker: "But that's way too mu—"


(screen goes black)

So I guess I would never be a winning bidder. In fact, I would be lucky to avoid a felony charge. It’s just as well, because I’d probably also be a bitter winner. When I’m watching, it always cracks me up when the winner comes on stage and Bob Barker announces "you'll be playing for THIS!" Then the big door opens and the prize is something truly lame. You can always tell that the contestant was coached to act excited, no matter what it is. I don’t think I could do that. I’d have to be honest about the prize:

Me: “Bob, what the hell am I going to do with a Real Mahogany Sewing Table?”

Bob Barker: “Um, like the announcer said, you’ll surely get years of enjoyment—"

Me: “Bob, I’m a thirty-six year old bachelor! Why did the last contestant get a ‘New Car’ and I get stuck with this crap? I bet it isn’t even worth a hundred bucks!”

Fred, yelling from off camera: “I bid a hundred and ONE, Bob.”