Saturday, December 20, 2008
With only four days until Christmas, I ventured out to pick up some last minute gifts. We have had some bad weather the past few days and the roads are slick, so I assumed that most Seattlites would stay home for fear of the drive! WRONG! It seemed as the entire population thought the same as I and converged onto every two lane road leading to the mall ( there are only two lane roads in Seattle, nothing wider, I will comment on that another time!). With a little maneuvering and back alley driving I arrived to begin phase two of my journey, the parking.
As I pulled into the garage amid a sea of cars, preparing to circle endlessly in search of that elusive parking stall, I was greeted with a tap on my window as two excited teens were preparing to leave and offered me their spot! My journey just got a little brighter, but to those in front of me I could only smile as their fiery eyes pierced me through the rear view mirror!
I entered the mall to a cornucopia of holiday sensory overload and immediately was sucked into the flow of human traffic. You cannot escape it, it takes you until the tide abates, spitting you out into a store you have no desire to be at, in my case a plus size women's clothing outlet offering sixty percent off!
Quickly diving back into the fray I can see that I am now going to be bombarded by the infamous kiosk assassins targeting anyone who will make the slightest eye contact. I put my head down and blended the best I could but inevitably I lifted mine eyes and beheld a stall full of the most gaudy wind chime/wind spinning contraptions I have ever seen. The assassin was surprisingly busy and no sooner could I get my head back down when the next stall approached and I was greeted by a young assassin trying desperately to wrap some sort of warm rice bag around my neck. "Sir this will make a great gift for your spouse"! As I spun out of the web of warm rice I politely said "no thanks" and quickly tried to move to the outside of the walkway and out of the line of fire. The ebb and flow of the masses only let me to the outside for a few seconds being forced back to the inside lane almost immediately by a twin stroller loaded with shopping bags and four kids. I avoided the tears and drool on my shirt from the child standing up and reaching for somebody who would change his diaper and buy him a cookie, sorry kid not today! As I was on the inside track again I was met directly by a hunk of some sort of meat product on a tray. Yes, the familiar holiday staple Hickory Farms! The thought of all those people coughing, sneezing, and breathing around that tray made my stomach turn. I was almost glad to see the next kiosk killer!
As I passed the final kiosk ( a wire head massager?) I made it to my destination. It was just as busy inside and I had to find a respite. I made my way to a bench and sat down. I started to watch people and wondered if they were enjoying themselves. Some yes, and most no. I asked myself the same thing and found that I was, but there were many other factors that spoiled some of that joy, most of them out of my control. In light of these observations I have gained a new outlook on the holiday rush. Amidst all the hustle and bustle you need to ask yourself, am I doing this out of obligation or out of the pure joy in giving to make someone else happy? As far as the spoiling factors go, my recommendation is to start shopping early and not wait until four days left!