part I: Best Buy.
Being under no pressing time constraints, I figured I'd spend a few minutes leisurely wandering through the CD aisles and also check out their headphone options. Immediately upon my entry to the store, I was accosted by a friendly employee with the offer of help. Now, anyone who has ever been shopping with me or known me longer than five minutes probably knows that I despise offers of employee assistance. I want to shop by myself, and I don't want someone following me around. I cheerfully told him "No, thank you," and walked toward the headphone area. On the way, I got distracted by a large display of cell phone screen protectors. I spent five minutes scanning the shelf to see if they had one for my phone (they didn't). Before I even made it to the headphones, someone else asked if they could help me find anything. "No thanks, I'm just looking," I told him, a little more forcefully this time. I could drag this story out, but I am just going to say that I spent probably 20 minutes in the store, and during that time was approached by FIVE DIFFERENT EMPLOYEES begging to help me find something. One guy told me I should buy a new cell phone. (I was looking at iPod earphones. What?) The last guy even said, "You've been looking a long time! What can I help you find?" Now, if I had been glued to one spot for fifteen minutes, this remark may have been warranted. But I had not. I'd been wandering through various aisles for several minutes, stopping at no particular place for any significant length of time. Needless to say, after approach #5, I got out of that store as quickly as possible. For future reference, though, in case anyone reading this works in retail, I would like to provide you with a helpful reference guide.
FIVE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD LEAVE ME ALONE:
1. I am not blind. I would estimate that 96% of shoppers at Best Buy, and really at any store, have the goal of buying something that they have either bought before (CDs, movies, books, batteries, etc.) and know exactly where it is located, or they are buying something that is extremely easy to locate (TVs, laptops) and housed in an area of the store labeled by large signs.
2. I am not buying something that requires multiple opinions. I'm sorry, blue-polo-shirt Geek Squad guy, but I do not know you and therefore I do not trust your musical taste to help me select which CD I would like to listen to while I clean my kitchen tonight. No offense intended, but this is a highly personal decision. As are the earphones I choose to wear. Sure, I could entertain you with the saga of how it's really hard for me to find ear buds that fit in my ears because they are really small, and how Apple's are really the only ones that stay in, and those clip-around-the-outside ones always just fall off because they're like three times the size of my ear, but I honestly don't think you care, or know anything about the difference between the $30 and the $10 models, or would let me take them out of the package and try them on because that would be some kind of health risk. So it's nothing personal, but I'd like to make my own decisions about these things. If I were buying a computer or a TV it might be different, but if you noticed (which you probably did -- I felt like you were all stalking me) I steered very clear of those departments. Also, if I were buying something that I felt needed a second opinion, I would have brought someone else with me and you would have heard me discussing it with them. I'm already deducing that next time I come CD shopping I need to bring someone along -- preferably a linebacker who is at least six feet, four inches tall and who looks like he could take out the Geek Squad in one fell swoop. We will both be wearing dark sunglasses and I will have on six-inch spike heels. You will know not to mess with us.
3. If you leave me alone, I will be far less aggravated and far more likely to spend more time in your store -- therefore making more purchases. If you follow me around like a pack of lonely puppy dogs, I will want to get out of there as soon as possible, and I will buy my CDs from more evil places like Wal-Mart or iTunes.
4. Have you really ever accosted someone who was rummaging through the $5 DVD bin and convinced them to buy a new cell phone from you, right now? Hmm. Right. I didn't think so.
5. It makes you seem desperate. Haven't you ever heard that girls only want guys that are unavailable? The same principle applies to store employees. 99% of the time I want to be left alone, but on that rare 1% of times that I do need assistance with something, it is always in a situation where there is not an employee to be found for miles around. (Luckily this will not be a problem in the future -- with my six-inch heels and my linebacker companion, top shelves and heavy boxes will no longer pose a threat.) Save your energy for the TV shoppers and the laptops that need fixing, Geek Squad. I don't need you. I'm geek enough to buy my own earphones.
part II: LifeWay Christian Store.
My goal upon entering LifeWay was solitary: to find a small, thin Bible that I can carry with me when I go to church or Bible study and not have to lug my huge Life Application Study Bible that I love dearly but weighs like, 10 pounds and does not fit in my purse. I wish I had read this before I went, but I was able to find one pretty quickly regardless. It went much more smoothly than the Best Buy experience, but I still managed to get list material out of it. No offense to any Baptists or any devoted shoppers who frequent this store once a week, but it's really weird.
FOUR WAYS IN WHICH LIFEWAY CREEPS ME OUT:
1. Strange music.
I like hymns as much as the next person, but what's with all the flutes? At the register, a large sign proudly proclaimed, "Like the music you're listening to in the store?" and had an arrow pointing to a stack of CDs entitled something like "Top 20 Hymns: Celtic Music."
2. Strange candy.
Right, so I must have missed the verse where Jesus tells us not to eat the chocolate of the world. Because the only types of candy and gum they sell at LifeWay are called things like "Scripture Mints" or "Bible Chocolates." I certainly have no problem with incorporating faith into all aspects of life, but I am also a little wary of what kind of candy is hiding underneath all that Scripture. Is there something wrong with a Snickers bar? Right now, I'm about to eat a Dove chocolate. Tastes delicious, and there are lots of doves in the Bible. I think I made the right choice. (It's kind of like cheering for the Saints in the Super Bowl, right -- can't go wrong if God is on your side. That was a joke, in case you couldn't tell.)
3. Holiday themes.
Valentine's Day is in the air. You'd think a Christian bookstore would be immune to it, but that is not the case. Pink heart decorations abounded, and every display in the front of the store was filled with couples' devotional Bibles and the movie Fireproof and books based on the movie Fireproof and pink tablecloths. Towards the back of the store, there was an end-aisle display for single people. I picked up one of the books and looked at the table of contents. It was some type of Christian girl's guide to being single. Each chapter was themed after a different fairytale. One of them was something like, "Rapunzel: Avoiding Loneliness." Another one was about Tinkerbell and was entitled something about fairies getting squashed. No, thank you.
4. Clearance Bibles. Sounds great in theory, right? After I had selected the Bible I wanted, I noticed there was a different shelf of 50% off clearance items, and there seemed to be quite a few Bibles on it. I flipped through them, wondering if there were any good ones on sale. There were, actually. They had several that were almost identical to the one I had picked out -- for half off! Exciting, right? Until I removed the box lid on the first one and discovered that it was monogrammed with someone's name. No. I am not joking. Apparently if you get your Bible monogrammed and they misspell your name, or you decide you don't want it, or you never pick it up or something, it goes on the 50% off rack. I'm not sure what the goal is. I mean, sure, I could pay twelve bucks for a bible with "Jasmine Elizabeth Williamson" or whatever monogrammed across the cover, but people would think I stole it. And what kind of person steals a Bible? If it was 90% off I might consider it, but half off? Maybe they're counting on someone with the same name coming in, but I don't know that the odds of that are favorable. I wanted to ask the cashier if anyone ever bought those, but I didn't want to offend her -- she was at least 60 and looked like she probably didn't have much of a sense of humor about these things. In fact, I'm pretty sure she was thinking, "that girl is wearing skinny jeans and looks like she may have dyed her hair recently... she does NOT look Baptist, has probably not seen Fireproof, and is going home right now to blog about this." (She was right... I am guilty to all of the above.)