high-minded drivel

high-minded (adjective) - refined; cultured; particularly civilized. drivel (noun) - senseless talk; nonsense.

Friday, December 9, 2011

If you shop til you drop you have planned poorly

A hamlet such as this would be ideal,
because you could start by going uphill
and then take advantage of the downhill
later on in your shopping outing.
This evening's post comes to you from the Grandview Avenue Caribou Coffee in the lovely hamlet of Grandview, just northwest of downtown Columbus.  I am in Grandview this evening because it is one of several Columbus hamlets with a Main Street of sorts (or a main street, I suppose) with shops and restaurants all within easy walking distance of each other.  Hamlets like this are quite excellent in my view because they promote community, exercise (in the form of walking), commerce, creativity, and a host of other benefits.  I'm sure you can think of some for yourself.  Hamlets are a place where you feel good about yourself, where you feel like you're part of something special, where you want to spend time and not rush it.  This is in contrast to the world of big box, parking lot, frenzied pace, get-out-while-you-can suburbs and strip malls.  In other words, a hamlet is ideal for a little holiday shopping.

Mmmmm....Christmas hamlet.  So savory.

While I contrast shopping in the context of a hamlet with shopping in the context of suburban malls, I must say that my shopping approach in a hamlet is still "mission-style" shopping.  You could say that I take a very thorough approach to shopping.  This means checking every store, looking at every item, making a calculated decision, and then EXECUTE! EXECUTE! EXECUTE!.  Leave no stone unturned, because the stone you don't turn over may have the ideal gift underneath it, covered in moss and earthworms.  This isn't to say that if I do come across the ideal gift early on while shopping that I'll keep going.  I don't love shopping that much, and I'm no fool.  But I don't just pick and choose a few stores and then settle for what I can find in them.  Any store may surprise you with something you never thought you'd find, so every store deserves a look.  As you might expect, power-walking is not out of the question when mission-shopping, and it might even be essential.  I'm not an aggressive shopper, but you've got to move quickly and be efficient to get all the stores in.

Remember that all this is in the context of shops along just one to three streets in a hamlet, not striding through the vast wasteland of a mall.

Christmas hamlet.......mmmmm.......with potatoooooooes......

To use wrapping paper, or a gift bag?  I must needs consult
with strumpet Fortune.
Ideally when I go Christmas shopping I already have some ideas in mind, because then the mission is more well defined.  It's not just looking for a gift, it's looking for a particular gift.  Stores can be covered in a matter of minutes, or even seconds, and the striding intensifies with a clear goal in mind.  Moseying from store to store in hopes of finding something is the opposite of my ideal shopping experience.  That approach is much too open-ended.  The line between success and failure is much too blurred.  Shopping can be fun, sure, but what's more fun than the sense of grim satisfaction that comes from completing a set objective?

If you're finding as you read this that you want to try out the mission-style of shopping for yourself, let me share a few pointers with you so that you're not going in blind.

First, take a pen and small notepad.  You'll want to take a pen and notepad because you may have some ideas starting out, in which case you'll want to write them down and check them off one by one.  This helps keep you on task.  Or alternatively, you'll want to take a pen and notepad because you don't have any ideas starting out, and it will be important to jot down ideas as you go along.  The last thing you want is to make the circuit of shops and then find yourself at the end thinking "What was that idea I had back at XYZ shop?  It seemed like a good idea to pursue, but now I just can't remember it...."  Actually, carrying a pen and notepad is a good idea at all times in life, not just when gift shopping.  In fact, if you're lacking ideas for a relative this year, you can't go wrong with getting them a nice pen and notepad.

Second, wear lightweight moisture-wicking clothes.  Shops, especially in hamlets, can be a bit "close," so you don't want to be shuffling and sweating your way through them bundled up in three sweaters, an overcoat, and a scarf.  You're going to be power-walking - repeat, POWER-WALKING - not moseying around out there.  If you're a bit chilly starting out or whenever you transition between shops, no matter.  The chill will just encourage you to move faster.

Try to focus on getting through the stores as your first
priority.  There will be plenty of time later for hamlet.
Third, eat a hearty breakfast.  Shopping on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster, because you'll get cranky and your brain won't function, so it won't be enjoyable and you won't be able to generate good ideas.  This is not to say that you can't stop in at one of the fine little restaurants or cafes in the hamlet, because it would be good to give them your business too.  But it's probably a better choice to be focused 100% on the mission until it is accomplished.  If you think you'll be out for awhile and will need a pick-me-up, rather than stopping for a leisurely coffee and croissant I suggest carrying a small plastic bag of high-protein deer jerky with you.

Fourth, don't go for quantity over quality.  It's important to remember that when mission shopping, the mission is not to spend lots of money and get a bunch of stuff.  Don't think that success means coming out at the end of the day with a bunch of bags in hand, or that you've "done well" because you're going to be able to give each person on your list multiple gifts.  The more you get for a person, the less special each individual item becomes.  Receiving one item rather than a bunch of items causes the person to appreciate the one item more.  Spending lots of money does not indicate significance.  Thought indicates significance.  When your relative is thanking you for the gift, they should also be acknowledging your cunning and resourcefulness.

In the end, don't be afraid to walk away.  To use an analogy, if the shot isn't there, don't take it.  Perhaps the mission won't be described as "successful" necessarily, but still, walking away seems preferable to a halfway result.  Think of it this way:

You: "Hey cap'n, we got one of the hostages!"
Cap'n: "Where are the five other hostages?"
You: "Probably being knocked off one by one now that the enemy is aware of our presence.  But at least we got this guy!"
Cap'n: "Fools!"

Okay, now equate that to gift shopping.

My dear, I write to you once again this year, hoping to
employ all my powers of cunning to tell you...
The point is, just as it would be better to leave all the hostages if you can come back another day for the big score, don't go for the halfway result by getting something that is really an unsatisfactory gift just for the sake of getting something.  Rather than spending money, make something for the person using your own creativity.  Don't underestimate the power of writing something personal to the individual in question.  Unless the person is a real shithead, they will value it, especially since it is coming as something different than the usual gift they get from you, no matter how great those gifts might be.

It is important to note that if you do find yourself resorting to the personalized letter option, you have reached the point where it is appropriate to get out of the mission mindset.  Because although the person will certainly value your note, they may be a bit confused if you start out with "In my attempts to execute my mission...."  You know, settle down a get into the right frame of mind for this.  Go ahead and stop in at that coffee shop for a croissant now.  If you've done things properly, you'll even be prepared already with a pen and paper to write your note.

No comments:

Post a Comment