The sport of shopping is something I never embraced, at least until now. Sure, when on vacation I enjoy perusing the little galleries and gift stores in whatever locale I am in and, yes, I always buy at least one thing. In the midst of my daily routines, however, I tend to shop only when I need something: blueberries, a new white blouse, or socks without holes. Shopping for essentials (even clothing) is a chore for me. I make a list and then play a game of Beat the Clock, whizzing down the aisles, throwing stuff into my cart lightening fast. Even when the parking lot is jammed, Tom is quite impressed with how fast I can get in and out of Costco.
This stems back to my childhood when my Grandma and Mom would team up on a Saturday afternoon and drag us all to the mall. These were not pleasure trips. No running, no touching, no spitting, no shoving, no screaming, no ice cream…how boring is that for a kid? Occasionally these expeditions would have a purpose, like new clothing for Easter, but that too, was horrible as I was always stuffed into some cupcake cute outfit that Gram and Mom liked, but I didn’t. If you want proof, check out those old Easter photos – I’m the one in the green dress, the frizzy Toni perm (but that’s another story), and the scowl on my face. Clothes shopping was the worst and this attitude continued all the way through high school when I was forced into a long, sleeveless Prom dress (green again) and a little rabbit stole that shed and left me spitting out tiny hairs all night.
The one good thing about brick and mortar shopping is that you only did it when YOU decided to do it. At some point, the stores figured out that they needed to cast a different line to reel us in and telemarketing was born. Sneaky bastards, they always waited until you were sitting down for dinner. They knew we’d answer for this was in the days before Caller ID and answering machines. Not answering could be life or death. You were in the dark and possibly missing out on a hot date, the latest gossip, or an invite to dinner at Gram’s on Sunday. Like a post-Civil War carpetbagger, the phone industry swooped in with machines that identified, answered and took messages. So in our wish to beat the telemarketers, we still spent money.
Needless to say, I was one of the first to embrace online shopping. Christmas gifts for twenty? No problem, snap! A wedding gift for a twice-removed cousin I only met once? Piece of cake! Shopping was now at my fingertips. I controlled when and what, or thought I did until this morning. Google decided a while back that I needed some organization to my incoming emails and began sorting them into Primary, Social, and Promotions. Today I pulled up my email: 5 messages in Primary; 3 in Social; and a whopping 23 in Promotions! That isn’t counting Spam! Later in the day I checked email again: 0 messages in Primary and Social and 4 in Promotions. If it weren’t for online shopping, I’d never get any email!
Now I have to admit, this is my fault. Anytime I buy something online, I usually ignore the little box next to the fine print. Check box if you do not wish to receive email promotions. At the time of purchase, I’m feeling pretty good. Most likely I got a bargain, crossed someone off my gift list, or unearthed a difficult-to-find item I wanted. Usually I think to myself, yeah, okay, I’d like to know when you’re having a sale. And, darn, if I don’t open up that latest email from Ann Taylor that shouts 40% off tops and tees! Not to mention all those recommendations from Amazon. The online marketers endeavored to turn me into a shopper that would make Grandma proud and they succeeded.
I spent a good bit of this morning unsubscribing although I hung on to a cherished few (I do love you Amazon). It might hurt a bit tomorrow when the Promotions tab is nearly empty…I’ll feel lonely and unloved…but in my heart I know this: they’ll figure out another way to get me.