I recently needed to make a quick stop at a “super-sized” department store to buy a simple, single object. But since nothing is ever simple – especially for me – this turned into an adventure. Big stores, especially when crowded, are a sensory overload for me; so it is very difficult to keep calm.
Shopping in mega-stores can be a battle of wits between the sly marketing professionals who work to entice you, confuse you, and grab all your money, and me, who just wants to get in and out as fast as possible. And, as the old joke goes, “in a battle of wits, I am unarmed.”
The Battle Begins
As I innocently enter the store, I am immediately met by my competitor’s first volley: the entrance is cluttered with large tables of items labeled: “bargain of the day,” “for immediate sale,” and “shopper’s special.” I react to this, wondering why these items are special, and if I should buy any – simply because the prices are so low. Luckily, a wave of panic rushes over me, and I remember why I came to the store in the first place. I move ahead to phase 2: finding my item.
Finding my item is not as easy as it sounds. And this is because the marketing specialists are now manipulating my actions. There is no straight aisle in which I can walk down. I am met by obstacles along the way: bright signs that blare the news “BUY THIS NOW!” I am caught in their maze, shifting and turning and struggling to break free of the net that has now fallen down upon me.
I Am Lost
And then I suffer a defeat. I keep my head down in the attempt to avoid flooding due to reading every sign along the way; but I bump into a display that is blocking my way. It is large and obtrusive. I look up and see that it is for some kind of men’s underwear. Up to this point, I am okay. But when I read the sign, I am a done for. The sign says “trial pack.” And that did it. Something so simple sent me spiraling off into another world, the world of thought, analysis, confusion and curiosity.
Journey to the Center of the Mind
I immediately ask myself, “how can there be such a thing as a ‘trial pack’ of underwear?” I am hung up on this concept. What do people do, take them home and test them out? Then what? What if they don’t like them? Do they return them; and they are re-sold to others. (At this point, I am starting to feel ill, and the notion of making my own underwear has entered my head.)
It would seem to me that more explanation is needed. They should have an additional sign that spells out the entire process in fine detail. Something like “returned undergarments will be shredded and disposed of safely. Something to offer me a little peace of mind. Then, I continue to spiral deeper, wondering what factors go into the process of underwear evaluation. Fifteen minutes later, I am still stuck by the display, no doubt with a foggy and perplexed look upon my face; because a sales clerk walks up to me and asks, “are you okay?”
I assure her that I am fine, though by now I am quite sure that the hot feeling my face is experiencing is an intense blush from being discovered staring at underwear. I immediately bolt, darting around equally-obtrusive displays like an NFL running back. I race to a far corner of the store to continue shopping, but by now I have forgotten why I came into the store in the first place.
I reach into my pocket to find my list: there is ALWAYS a list there. That is the one saving factor of being OCD. You never go anyplace without a list. I read the list and remember why I came into the store. I race to find it, pay for it, and to get back home to the safety of the place where all my underwear is hermetically protected in my dresser. Of course, I had to take all of them out and wash them five times just to be sure.
I may not be certain about this, but I have a sneaking suspicion that: I THINK TOO MUCH. What do you think?