Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Why men hate department stores

Like every red-blooded American male who, as the shopping days until Christmas dwindle down to single digits, steels himself for the inevitable solo trip to the department stores to find that ALL IMPORTANT gift for the wife/girlfriend, I made my foray today at lunch.

You would think that department store managers would say to their staffs: "the shopping days until Christmas are dwindling down to the single digits and lunch time is a prime time for totally clueless men to shop. I want to see every department covered by totally helpful sales associates ready to take these poor fools by the hand and sell them everything in sight." You would think that is what they would say but unfortunately they must not because you could perform the third act from "Twelfth Night" in the middle of the sales floor and not attract the attention of a single sales associate. Why? BECAUSE THEY'RE ALL AT LUNCH.

Jewelry stores know that men fear department stores almost as much as prostate exams and thus bombard us with endless commercials during football games; extolling the ease and simplicity of buying jewelry for our wives/girlfriends (pssst, one size fits all, diamonds go with everything, she'll truly love it, easy financing, take 60% off all prices). Guys are simple creatures. We trust because trusting is way easier than having to decide on our own.

This is a simple lesson that department stores could learn. One department store does know this and if you've ever shopped in a Nordstrom you know what I mean. Sure their prices will leave you gasping for air but the experience will make it all seem worthwhile. Unfortunately, the nearest Nordstrom is in Durham. (I love ya honey but if I have to drive more than 5 miles, you're out of luck.) But wouldn't it be nice to be able to call your personal sales associate and say: "Estelle, I'll be in around noon, get together a couple tasteful selections - you have all her sizes and color preferences right? Great!" Or even better: "Hello? Oh hi Estelle, sure, whatever you think. You still have my American Express Card on file don't you? No, don't bother, I'll pick it up myself at gift wrap."


Don't worry guys, we'll get through this holiday like we have so many others. Cheers!


Monday, December 11, 2006

Low Means Go

I find it odd that in a town with "Green" in its name so few of the city's inhabitant recognize the color when they see it. Frequently while waiting at one of the many stoplights in our fair city the light will turn green and yet nobody moves. I imagine a conversation in the lead car going something like this:

"...so I said, 'you can't talk like that to me' and she says something like 'well, I am your supervisor' and then - hold on the traffic light just turned a different color. What color? I'm not exactly sure. It's kind of like that color I wore to Mary's wedding. No, the other Mary. Oh, that's right you didn't get invited. Sorry for bringing it up. I remember how irritated you were. (What is wrong with all those people behind me?) Oops, the light is turning colors again. I guess I'd better go. No, I meant drive, I can still talk. Oh, look, that idiot behind just got hit. Serves him right."

I have a theory (yet unproven) that the driver in the lead car in any line of traffic will always be the one with the slowest reflexes. Why? Because people with faster reflexes will always calculate to the nearest hundredth of a second, the interval between the time their light turns red and the time the opposing traffic's light turns green. On occasion, people with slower reflexes will not be being paying attention and will follow those cars through the intersection and get nailed.

Another theory someone else proposed is fear of people who learned to drive in any of the states we in NC refer to as "Yankeeland." Yankees assume that traffic signals are hung there for decoration only and not to impede their God-given right to go whenever they please - pedestrians and small animals be damned. It is for this reason that most cars in Yankeeland have license plates in the front as well as the back to alert out-of-state drivers in the opposing lane that, no matter what the light says, the guy speeding toward them is not going to stop. Of course, when these folks move to NC and get NC plates it is nearly impossible to distinguish former Yankees from anyone else - unless you're sharp-eyed enough to notice the Virgin Mary statuette on the dash.

The green lights that confuse most slow-witted people are the ones at Protected Turns where the green light is an arrow pointing left (and sometimes right). Not willing to take chances (or not able to distinguish the peculiar arrow shape) these people will wait until the light turns full green allowing them to turn in front of opposing traffic - and get nailed. For an example of this phenomenon, hang around the intersection where people from westbound Market St. try to turn left on westbound Wendover Ave. What fun!

Some of the problem with green lights can be traced back to our school system where, if you happened to be sick the day they were teaching the color "green" you might not recognize the color at all and assume that it was just an odd shade of "blue" - assuming you weren't sick the day they covered that color. In order to rectify this educational shortcoming I've been working on a new mnemonic that we can teach our youngsters and eliminate the need for teaching them colors at all. Here it is:

TOP means STOP
LOW means GO

And remember, let's be careful out there.