Online shopping just doesn’t give you that adrenaline surge

October 27, 2019

I’ve noticed that people find a lot of interpretations of their life built into this upcoming holiday season. I don’t know whether it is a time of reflection or just pausing to look around and see what might be on sale. 

I do know that deep down, for some folks, one of the true meanings of the holidays is combat-ready shopping. Not only does this entail shopping early, but also online. For a lot of us, online shopping involves uncharted waters. You will have to learn to fill up that shopping cart icon without deleting the computer screen, let alone knocking out the power grid for the entire ZIP code. It sounds simple, but just try to translate to the computer that you want to check out without the 3,000 scarves that appeared at the bottom of your inventory list by mistake.

You see, normally I’m not a person who shops online, but occasionally there is a bargain that I can only get through an online purchase. Now, the computer is like a salesclerk, which means about as reasonable as those people who spray you with perfume when you walk into a large department store. Yes, you are allergic to that fragrance, and yes, you try to duck away, only to knock over an entire display of rare silver jewelry, but the clerk will not take no for an answer. It’s not their fault. Their brain has gone soft from listening to “Jingle Bell Rock” the entire workday, starting in November.

After doing extensive research, here’s how it works. You find the item you want to purchase and click on it. Then it goes into your icon shopping cart. Simple and easy so far. And then you click on checkout. Here is the problem. Either the cart turns over or a wheel breaks on it, sending it careening into another computer screen, or it disappears entirely. And now you have to start all over again.

Little men behind the screen are so busy laughing at your gullibility that you will have to reboot your computer. Of course, you will never find that item again, and your credit card has slipped behind the computer into a crevice that will take a set of tongs to extract it, and your fingertips are so numb they will not work on the keyboard anymore.

If the screen does not disappear, the inventory will show that you have purchased 150 Serta mattresses plus a two-week stay at an exclusive resort in Bora Bora instead of the $30 reversible scarf you saw in the advertisement. In about three days, you will have delivered to your home enough mattresses to have a tent sale.

Now I am a traditionalist. I like the other real old-fashioned meaning of the holidays – finding a parking space. This is something we know about around here. We are adept from the summer gridlock of knowing the back roads and searching out parking spaces in what looks like a ballpark lot. 

In fact, some year-round residents are so well versed in this, their car has taken on the look of a shark, with a grey fin sticking out of the top and the music from the movie “Jaws” playing through attached loudspeakers. 

I have a friend who can spot someone leaving a store and heading for their car within seconds of them pulling their keys out of their purse. This person can follow within a tenth of a millimeter behind the shopper’s kidneys without ever touching their body. With just the right timing, my friend can pull into the vacant parking space before the EMTs arrive to cart away the other 46 car occupants who have been circling for that space since yesterday.

I tell you, it’s a beautiful sight and one you will never experience while shopping online. The cart icon has its place, but give me the old-fashioned asphalt anytime.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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