|Pictured: All the happy people at Walmart.|
|Pictured: All the happy Christmas shoppers at Walmart.|
Now, this is not going to be one of those blog entries about all the wacky people who shop at Walmart ("haha lookit the fat turd in teh tinee shorts at walmart big stuopit fart"). Most of the folks I've seen there are pretty average, no different from everyone else. Maybe if I were there at weird hours I'd see more of the "People of Walmart" type folks. (Click link at your own risk.)
That's always a danger in a 24-hour operation.
But the fact is that, as I think about it, I never see happy shoppers, period, except under two conditions:
1) They're in a group and they're messing about, maybe planning to shoplift;
2) They're in a TV commercial for the store.
No, people in retail establishments tend to either be peering intently at objects or prices, or blandly considering them while the wheels are turning inside, or zipping their eyes to and fro to find the thing they need. Or they may be yelling at the kids, but that's a reaction to the kids, not the shopping.
They are not joyous. It doesn't matter if it's the box store, the supermarket, the little boutique. Even if they enjoy shopping, or are doing it with friends, when it comes to checking out the merchandise the gaze is stern. Similarly, people enjoy poker and chess but they don't look like they're having fun when they play.
Shopping is serious business. And it should be. Responsible people work on staying within a budget, but everyone watches prices. Even rich people. Unless they're showing off. If you're shopping for others, like figuring out what to feed the family, you may be thinking about who likes this and who hates that and who ought to eat the other thing, who is allergic to pine nuts and who is vegan this week and who needs to lay off the Fritos, and all manner of considerations. You may be kicking yourself for leaving the list on the fridge. You may be watching the clock because you have to pick up Zeke from school at three and Granny from the home at four. Those are the faces I see on other shoppers. Never, "Oh, my GOSH, can you believe they have all these awesome THINGS?"
The other reason for a blah or dour expression is that you never want to be a sucker, even during a largely faceless experience like shopping in a warehouse store. People may smile at the lady giving out samples, but they're guarded. I'm not going to be talked into buying anything even though this cookie dough pretzel is AWESOME no no no, fattening and not in the budget and maybe I can swipe one more. That's for a four-dollar box of snacks.
If you're shopping to drop five grand on a diamond ring, you're going to be even more guarded, although you may be more phony. "Yes, it's a pleasure to meet you, and I could use some help picking out a ring" and she'd better not say it sucks or I'll come back and strangle you. Unless you're rich and showing off. "I'll take five gold rings, just in time for Christmas." Even then, you're serious about showing off, despite the devil-may-care attitude, and you're careful to buy expensive rings.
Of course the people who work in the stores are told they must be cheerful, but we usually don't get mad if they aren't, unless they're actually vicious.
I was thinking that perhaps, with Black Friday looming ahead, that I will make a determined effort to be more cheerful when shopping during the Christmas season. Of course, that will probably alert the security team that I'm a shoplifter, but as long as they're cheerful when they tackle me to the ground it will be okay.