I made a trip into town this morning. And by town, I mean Columbus. I do as much shopping in Pine Mountain as a I can, but sometimes a bigger town is necessary.
I took Max with me to keep me company. He’s a good back seat rider. He doesn’t bark out the window at strangers. He doesn’t pace all over the place. He just sits by the window and takes in the sights.
His job is pretty simple. Keeping me company includes sticking his head up between the front seats from time to time so I can scratch his ears. Laying down during the longer boring sections of the trip. And setting off nuclear gas bombs noxious enough to peal paint. I ride with the window down as much as possible, but today it was raining. I’m thinking of investing in a gas mask.
We’ve all recognized for years the difference between the way men and women shop. I have to be careful here not to meddle in the male/female thing. But, let’s be honest, we are not wired the same.
I left the house around 9:45 and was back at the house by 11:45, and it’s an easy 30 minute drive both ways. That leaves about 1 hour for shopping, including the hike from the parking lot into the store. Plus, on this trip there were two stops. Lowes and Walmart.
“How do you do it?” my wife might ask. Which is actually not true, because she doesn’t care about how I shop and seems to have no interest in comparing notes.
But, since maybe you ask . . .
First of all, I have in mind exactly what I’m going into town for in the first place. I know my destination. No man goes shopping just to be shopping. Two stores. Five things to pick up. I have no interest in going to some store just to see what might be there. Shopping is a necessary function of life, not an experience to be played out in some leisurely fashion.
Second. I don’t care where I park. Now, this often means that I end up parked a football field’s length from the front door. But I don’t spend time driving up and down the lanes looking for something closer. I park and I walk.
Third. I’m focused on what I’m after. The automotive section is in the back corner of the store, and I head straight there. I don’t even see the clearance items on the pallet parked in the middle of the aisle. Home décor does not distract me. Straight to the floor mats and off to the Men’s clothes to buy a shirt. Two items down and straight to checkout.
The checkout line is the bane of my shopping excursion. 35 available lines at Walmart and only three are open. The young lady in front of me has a trash can and a stuffed pink Octopus, but the impulse stuff on either side of the line gets to her. By the time she makes it to the cashier, she now has two bags of chips, two drinks, four boxes of Animal Crackers, and a pack of Sour Blasters.
My cashier is Wanda. She is particularly chatty today. She’s been working for Walmart for over 20 years and seems to be happy on this morning. The floor manager comes by and shouts that register 16 is now open. I hear a buggy race behind me for #16. Wanda and I exchange pleasantries. She asks me to take time to fill out the survey about her service, and I tell her it was excellent.
Lowes wasn’t quite that quick. I had one item to exchange. I drop it off at the return counter and head off to pick up one replacement for the return and a few other items. I know this store well and often don’t ask for help, which is a whole other adventure. But I’m having trouble finding a particular small tool. I ask the lady in the tool section and she looks at me like I’ve just asked her for something from another galaxy. She’s very nice and wants to be helpful, but she is clueless. I wander off in search and finally find it. A drywall circle cutter. I go back through tools and show the nice lady.
“Thought you might want to know that you do have this.”
“Oh, wow. I’ve never seen one of those”, she says. “Thanks for letting me know. Where’d you find it?”
“On a display next to the sheet rock.” I should have thought of that myself.
Max was waiting patiently when I got back to the truck. He pants heavily. The truck smells like he had refried beans for breakfast. I let it air out a bit before getting in. Then it was straight to the interstate and home.
Here me on this. I’m not saying that men are better shoppers than women. I’m not that reckless. I’m just saying that shopping doesn’t have to be an all-day commitment. My wife has learned not to ask me to go shopping with her unless it’s Christmas. She knows that her idea of shopping and my idea of shopping are miles apart.
If she goes with me, she gets all stressed out. I want to get in and get out. She wants to look some more, or try another store. If I go with her, I’m miserable because it involves a lot of standing around while she looks and debates the pros and cons of the purchase. She looks at things she has no intention of buying. She hates looking at tools. I feel self-conscientious standing among the ladies lingerie. By the time we’re done, my back is give out and I’m starving.
“You’re ready to go, aren’t’ you?” She knows.
We’ve tried the technique of splitting up. But that doesn’t work well either. If we split up in the same store, I’m done way before she is. If she drops me off so she can go across to the other store, I’m finished in 20 minutes and when she comes back to get me an hour and a half later, she’s been to three stores, not one; and will probably not have found what she was looking for.
I know this sounds like we are at war over shopping. We’re not. We get along very well. It’s just that we are at peace with our understanding of each other. You learn a lot about what does and doesn’t work the more years you spend together. You learn about what’s important and what’s marginal. You learn how to navigate the differences in the way you go about life. Even the mundane things like shopping.
I’ll just put it out there. Married couples turn into old married couples, partly because they have learned not to shop together.
So, Max was my shopping buddy today. He smells awful at times, but he is a dog. He’s ready to go when I’m ready. And I think he really likes my new drywall circle cutter.