We are lucky enough to live in a democratic society. If you live in the Western Hemisphere then chances are the society is based on capitalism, consumerism that is. To put it simply, the world gets around by people selling things and of course, by people (us) buying things. So you would think that as the sellers want to part you from your hard-earned cash, buying would be a pleasurable and easy experience. If only.
The Romans had a phrase ‘caveat emptor’ – let the buyer beware. Now I’m not saying that when you shop you are risking your money to some dodgy dealer, there are laws and codes of practice that protect us customers. Rather you would think that the stores would make shopping an easier experience.
Let’s take clothes sizes. Unlike buying other items, clothes sizes have a logic all of their own. If I want to buy a pint of milk and get short measured the shop is in trouble. But if a lady wishes to buy a dress it can be a size 12 in one shop, a size 14 in another. And what happened to the odd numbered sizes?
This also happens in coffee shops. Small, medium and large are considered too unsophisticated for the discerning user so the shop slips into bad Italian. Starbucks use ‘tall’ for the small, grande, the Italian for large for the medium, and venti, the Italian for 20 for the large. As the venti cup contains 20oz of coffee (24 if iced) you would have thought some logic has prevailed. But I must point out that venti is a trademark of Starbucks, so it could mean anything!
Supermarkets do give you advice on the cost per item. This can inform or confuse. I did once see loose tomatoes priced £ per oz and packed tomatoes priced £ per gram. The same confusion with beer. Whilst there are many offers on beer; single bottles, 4 packs and 6 packs, working out value for money can be confusing. All the ales have small print to help you, stating £ per litre. This small print can be an eye opener, as I discovered looking for toilet rolls and found the small print saying 37p per 100 sheets!
Paying can be a pain too. Automated self-service tills are to be avoided. Aside from my amazing ability to break anything electronic they are no help. One such machine refused to sell me 3 lemons; 2 were OK, 234 were OK, but a software glitch meant that buying 3 was a no-no. Plus the warning “unexpected item in bagging area!” What is so unexpected about shopping? A live mongoose would be unexpected but butter?
I prefer live cashiers. At least you get a smile most of the time, and I forgive them if they do not. It is a hard life dealing with the public. Now they have been told to give such platitudes as “Thank you for waiting.” Did I have a choice? I always reply,
“Thank you for allowing me to wait.”
Leaving the store and getting your shopping home does not finish the agony. Earlier in the year I stocked up on some items for the house. I bought a pair of scissors securely wrapped in heavy duty plastic. To help with the opening the packaging had a dotted line with a scissors logo on it. Alas, I had no scissors! I also bought a sharp kitchen knife. This was secured in tough nylon sheath, too strong for my scissors. What I needed was a sharp kitchen knife.
Looking back on the stress of shopping as I write this article, I have decided that perhaps I should avoid shopping altogether. Combined with my other stress management strategies, this will surely help! Or maybe I should try Online shopping?