So, here goes….Here’s the confession….I loathe shopping. Not “dislike.” Not “would rather not.” “Loathe.” With a capital "L." Your head is spinning now, right? This is quite a piece of information I just gave you, I know. I’ll give you a minute to process....
Okay. Was that long enough? For those of you who don’t know about my life, you’re wondering why this is a controversial announcement. It’s scandalous because I am a mystery shopper. I am also the mother of a teen and a tween, so the mall is supposed to be my second home. By confessing that I loathe shopping, I am speaking out against a good portion of my life.
I loathe shopping for many reasons. One reason is because I never have money. It’s no fun to shop when you don’t have money. I’ve been broke for so long that I don’t even have hope of getting money, so it’s not like I can look at things and say, “Someday I’ll get that.” This empty bank account thing has been going on long enough that I’m pretty sure “someday” isn’t coming. I don’t even dare to dream, so window shopping is futile.
The second and third reasons I loathe shopping are the Beetle and the Goose. Don’t get me wrong. My kids are good shoppers. They both are pretty patient and will even go in the dreaded Joann Fabrics with me. (Just the name, “Joann” was enough to reduce me to tears when I was a kid. Joann meant three to five hours of watching my mother compare fabrics. Normally, she would end up putting back 98% of what she had picked out, and we would leave with a yard and a half of fabric after investing half a day in looking.)
The Beetle is old enough that I can send him to shop on his own. Sometimes, that’s not such a good thing. Last time we were at the mall, he and his pseudo-cousin, Dillon (as always, names changed to protect the innocent), went off by themselves. They came and found me because the Beetle wanted to buy a video game. It was for mature audiences, so the clerk at GameStop (God bless him) would not let my 15 year old buy it for himself. Sometimes, I will allow the Beetle to have mature games, depending on what the game is and what Mr. Everything says. Mr. E knows about video games (of course he does), so I defer to him in that category. We walked back to the store, and I looked at the game. I called the Mr. and asked his opinion. He laughed and said, “You know he can score points for hurting women in that game, right?” Um, no. When I told the Beetle, “Absolutely not!” he did not even question it and put the game back on the shelf. Dillon said, “Dude! Why’d you even try it?” At that point, I knew they had tried to con me.
I don’t like shopping with the Goose for another reason. She’s great at shopping. She will try on anything, and I do mean anything. Our conversations usually go something like this:
Goose: “This is cute!”
Me: “Yes, it is, but it’s too small.”
Goose: “I think it might fit.”
Me: “You haven’t worn a child’s size 12 since you were in third grade.”
Goose: “I’m pretty sure it will fit.”
Me: “I’m telling you, it won’t.”
Goose: “I think it will.”
(Repeat the last two lines five more times.)
Me: “Well, then, by all means, try it on.”
Inevitably, that conversation ends with me saying, “I told you so.” Luckily, as she has gotten older, she has started to take my word for it a little more. We don’t have to repeat the conversation too often now. Now, she just likes everything she picks out in her own size and wants to try on all 48 items before we can leave the store.
The main thing that drives me crazy about shopping with either child is the begging. Remember, I have no money, so nine and a half times out of ten, the answer is no. It gets old saying no all the time. Today at the grocery store, I had said no so many times that I couldn’t stop. When I got to the register, the friendly clerk said, “Hi! Did you find everything you needed?” I abruptly blurted out, “No!” My kids thought that was funny. The cashier did not.
What kills me is how when I’m spending my money, the price is no object. Goose and Beetle ask for $60 jeans and $10 lunches. However, when they are spending their money, it’s a whole different ball game. They act like the prices are an outrage. When I’m buying McDonald’s, the Goose is convinced that nothing less than a double cheeseburger meal will fill her up. However, if she is paying, the $1.99 Happy Meal will do just fine, thank you. And if it’s not Tuesday or Thursday ($1.99 Happy Meal days), she’ll wait.
So, at this point, you are wondering how I have been a mystery shopper for 20 years, right? I knew you were. I’m psychic (or psychotic. Whatever works.) Well, that’s easy.
First, I get stuff for free. That does away with the whole “no money” issue. When I’m spending someone else’s money, I’m just like my kids. I have the prettiest Pandora bracelet that, so far, has cost about $210. I’m still adding beads, so it may be worth more than my car by the time I’m finished. I didn’t pay for it, so I have no problem spending that much on beads. This must be what it feels like to be one of my children.
The other thing that helps is the fact that many shops don’t allow kids along. Shucks. That means I have to go to the mall or the store all by myself. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it. If my kids do get to go, I tell them the requirements ahead of time. For instance, the Goose did a clothing store with me the other day. The spending limit was $40, but I was only allowed to buy one article of clothing. I clearly spelled that out for Goose ahead of time, and she was fine with it. There was no begging, because she knew Mama wasn’t paying full price at the mall for clothes out of her own pocket! It was a great shopping experience. Maybe I should just always tell them I am mystery shopping, even when I’m not. They know to be on their best behavior during assignments. Otherwise, they can kiss nice meals, nice clothes and nice vacations goodbye.
Mystery shopping gives me a mission when I’m shopping. I only like to shop when I have money and when I have a mission. I want to get in, get what I need and get out. I don’t want to try on 98 different items. I want to take one item off the shelf (preferably the clearance rack) and have it fit so I can buy it at 95% off. I do not shop in a leisurely fashion, ever. I don’t stroll, and I don’t window shop. If you want to shop with me, you better keep up, because I’m on the move. And by the way, don’t ask me to buy you anything. The answer is no. -Al