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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Retail Hell...

I hate shopping!

Ok, I'm a bloke so that revelation is probably not as exciting as, say the data coming back from Titan or the news that Kilroy is no longer part of UKIP (How many political parties is this man going to be kicked out of?). Nevertheless it needs stressing. I am not one of life's shoppers.

All I needed was a few odds and sods, so it was time for one of my brief forays into the town centre on a saturday. First to Jessops to buy a case for my new camera. Whilst there, I decided to kill 2 birds with one stone and also buy a cakebox of DVD-Rs to backup my laptop before I get mugged. I selected my discs (25 for a tenner - will I regret this?) and queued at one of the 3 different counters. After waiting for several long minutes for the clueless couple in front of me to choose a camera I finally got served.
"I'll have these discs, and do you have any cases suitable for a Nikon CoolPix?" I asked brightly.
At this point I would just like to emphasise that there was a large sign saying "Official Nikon accessories" - and there was a Nikon CoolPix displayed proudly in the glas case behind him.
"No we don't."
"We do have some generic camera cases that would be suitable though"
"Well that'll do"
I'm not a brand fiend, and I figure there is less chance of me being mugged if I don't display "Nikon Digital Camera" in large letters on my belt. This is the same reason why I didn't buy a laptop briefcase with "Tiny Computers" on it - why not just write "Mug Me!" in flashing Neon lights on my forehead?).
"They're over in the corner, you'll have to go to that till".
Great - more queuing.
I schlep off to the far corner and choose a nice imitation rucksack case. The padding is generous enough that I figure it will probably protect the camera against all but the most determined drunk.

I queue again. This time I am at the "Professional equipment" till. The younger man in front of me wants to buy a telescope. The older man in front of me already has a telescope and wants a tripod. The younger man is clueless and is asking questions about what he wants to buy. The older man is more knowleadgeable than the sales assistant and is conducting a masterclass on which laptop systems are best. I am losing the will to live.

Eventually another sales assistant appears and tells me that the till isn't working. I follow him back to the first till and get back in line. I am close to going all American on him and complaining about the crap service, fortunately he barges into the front of the queue and eventually they take my money and let me out blinking into the sunlight. Much to my surprise it is still January.

Next - a recycled black cartridge for my Inkjet printer.

As said before, I am not a regular shopper. Therefore it is my belief that all of the regular shoppers, who traipse around town each saturday and most lunchtimes, could at least do people like me a big favour and "get out of my goddamn way".

I go into WHSmith and am surprised to find that the own band cheaper alternative cartridges to HP "recommended" cartridges are actually more expensive. Chuckling at the illogicalities of our post-twentieth century existence I leave in search of Dixons. Fighting my way through the crowds of feral children that seem to inhabit most major shopping centres these days I enter the technological Mecca that is Dixons. I decide against taking the Mecca reference any further and throwing 7 stones at the widescreen TV in the window - besides which I'd never seen Kylie Minogue's bum quite so large before. Finally I locate the recycled print cartridges, tut a little bit at the price and go to choose the correct one.

Error! Brain Freeze!

I cannot for the life of me recall what my printer model is! I can list all 4 of the networked printers in work, plus the two old ones we keep in the cupboard and can't bring ourselves to chuck. I can remember my parents' printer. I can remember my first black and white printer and even the colour printer that I stopped using last year. But can I remember the Printer/Scanner/Copier that I bought last year to print my thesis on and which sits, in front of me every day as I surf the net? No chance. Dejected and feeling a slight wally I leave. Being dressed in a large woollen coat with a big bag I almost expect a suspicious security guard to ask me to accompany him back in the store and show me the contents of my bag. Fortunately I have an honest face.

Thoroughly pissed off now I decided upon one last stop- the cheap toiletries place. I'll admit to being as tight-fisted as anyone who has spent 8 years at university, so I tend to buy my toiletries every couple of months in bulk. Today, I have plenty of shower gel from christmas but I need Head and Shoulders. After 5 minutes searching in vain I give in and ask where it is.
"Bottom left aisle, sir"
Fair enough. After all, on the previous occassion it was on the top right aisle. Before then it was in the centre aisle, and before that I believe bottom right next to the deodorant. I suspect that next time I should start looking at the front left - or just perhaps ask as I walk in to save time. I buy some shampoo, marvel at how much they charge me for some razor blades and head for the bus stop.

As I sit there on the bus, breathing in the mingled odours of pig shit and stale beer, a random thought flits through my mind "Hewlett Packard PSC2100 series"... same time next week then?



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