Shopping in the shark’s den
Every issue, The Reflector will publish a personal essay written by a Mount Royal University student.All topics are welcome.We reserve the right to not publish subject matter that is hateful or a personal attack.You may be edited. Entries may be no more than 500 words. Email your submission to email@example.com.
Submitted by Jason Berry
It’s a well-known stereotype that women enjoy shopping while men would rather eat dirt than spend a day at the mall. I am one of those men. I hate having to go to the mall, weave my way through the infinite number of stores and belligerent mobs to purchase something that I will most likely wear twice before the seams fall apart.
I do whatever I can to avoid shopping. I’d rather wear my five-year-old pair of jeans with a paint stain down the side of one leg and a gaping hole in the crotch than go to the mall and buy a new pair. But I can only delay the inevitable. Eventually I knew I would be heading back to the abyss.
That day came much sooner than I had anticipated. It was only September when the first snowfall hit. The temperature dived below zero and I was caught without a jacket. My previous one lost its zipper in ‘06, and was beginning to smell like cottage cheese. Regretfully, I had to let it go. There was no choice but to brave the storm ill-prepared.
One day was enough. That following night I decided to get it over with. I would not let myself contract hypothermia due to my childish revulsion of the mall. I figured it would be easy. Go in, grab a jacket, and get out. Estimated time inside the mall: 10 minutes. A solid game plan. I walk through the entrance, forcing back a chill that ran down my spine and I head to the first store in sight. Cautiously, I approach. In the window was an awkwardly attractive mannequin wearing a short skirt and some variation of a T-shirt. Apparently this store was not aware of the blizzard happening outside.
Time since arriving: two minutes. The store was pretty empty save for the few employees scoping me out. It didn’t take long before I was being stalked. The staff are as efficient as a group of sharks, slowly circling their prey, waiting for the right time to strike. I knew what would come next and I was prepared.
My weapon of choice was two simple words: “Just browsing.” The closest employee started to make her move. “Crazy weather out there, are you looking for a jacket?” “Yes,” I say. Damn, she is good. Surprisingly the experience was not as bad as I feared. Her rehearsed compliments were a welcome boost to my ego. I almost felt bad when I told her that I wasn’t interested in any of their products. I left feeling a little more confident, but still without a jacket.
The next few stores went almost the same way, but to my dismay, I could not find anything that would suit me. It became increasingly difficult to stay in the mall. A nervous twitch was starting to form around the contours of my left eye. Time since arriving: 37 minutes. Crap. My patience was faltering. I was about to wave the white flag when I saw it, a rather plain black jacket. This is my last chance. I skeptically walk in, avoiding the sharks. I slip it on; it’s warm enough. I go over to the mirror; looks good enough. I check the price tag; it’s cheap enough.Sold!
I walk to the cashier and slip her my card. Mission accomplished. Final time: 53 minutes. OK, so the experience wasn’t that bad. Even though I was in there 5.3 times longer than I had anticipated, for once I can say that I got what I was looking for. Has this experience changed the way I feel about shopping? Not really, I don’t mind the taste of dirt.