When the gentle snow begins to fall outside my icy window, dear reader, my thoughts turn to a snifter of some fine, aromatic liqueur, and to your delightful company by the side of a crackling fire. I do so love this season. :)
The urban sphere is no less magical at this time of year; festively festooned store windows hold visions of the wonders to come, with children looking on clinging to their mothers, promising all manner of rehabilitated behaviour if only they could get exactly that. And luckily, toys are a relatively inexpensive way to motivate them toward adopting good manners. It’s a terrible shame that the same can’t be said of the adult populace at large. It would certainly make shopping for gifts much more enjoyable, don’t you think?
Insolence at this time of year is most un-Christmas-like, yet during any average shopping expedition one may expect to encounter it at regular intervals. While previous installments of The Guide have dealt with successfully navigating crowds or dealing with queue jumpers, we have thus far not discussed the techniques for ensuring that the last item on the shelf ends up in your possession instead of the aggressive gentleman’s who just pushed you aside for it. The natural inclination may be to bare one’s knuckles and prepare for fisticuffs, but there are many variables to this approach that simply cannot be accounted for. Besides this, it is ungentlemanly. The timeless question must once again be raised; what’s the practical gentleman to do?
Luckily, dear reader, we have a few avenues open to us that ensure that we escape both unscathed, and with the gift we had wanted under our arm. And as my special gift to you, I have taken great pains to research two excellent approaches that are both entirely preemptive and self-maintaining. The gifts that you select will be ready for you when you’re ready to make your purchase; you won’t need to fend anyone off, thus entirely preventing insolence, as it were.
A great deal of wisdom has been scribbled hastily within convenience store greeting cards on the way to the relatives’ as regards these matters, but please allow me to at least get the ball rolling.
Chocolate, who doesn’t love it? The insolent, that’s who. But not me, dear reader, and I believe you will love it too once this scenario unfolds in its entirety.
Clearly, for this technique we will be needing chocolate. I prefer dark, but melted milk chocolate also has a certain appeal. The idea is to use something that approaches the colour and consistency of feces, and cocoa is a wonderful medium to work in anyway.
Enjoy a corner of your favourite chocolate treat, allowing it to melt in your mouth until soft. Then, simply rub it onto a visibly obvious section of the gift you have selected, replacing it on the shelf from whence it came. Anyone who encounters it will see the “fecal” smear and will steer well clear. You hear? :)
The nice aspect of this strategy is that it allows you to shop with hands free while marking, and reserving, potential gifts you may want to return to later. Clearly there wouldn’t be much advantage to marking gifts weeks in advance, unless you’re short of cash at that time, so the approach is a day-of sort of thing.
It would be remiss not to complete the thought and ask what happens when the besmeared gift is unwrapped. “I was eating chocolate, as I am wont to do when wrapping gifts, and some of it dripped there. I had the receipt but they wouldn’t let me return it and mall security chased me out. I have no idea why. But it’s what’s on the inside of the box that counts anyway, right?”
Bingo bango, you’re done.
When something absolutely must be reserved, the idea here is to make the object simply unattainable … except for yourself ;) As with the previous option, this may also be a day-of sort of thing or an advanced-planning sort of thing. But you must prepare.
The essence of the thing is to create our own price tags, of varying degrees of outrageousness, that we will apply to reserved items. Access to a printer is great, but if you write carefully (paying attention to size and spacing), you can produce credible tags by hand. A fine felt tip marker and some self-adhesive envelope labels – the kind that come on sheets – should serve you well. We’ll be cutting these into price-tag-sized pieces, so we really don’t need many.
It’s a good idea to produce them in incremental values of ten dollars. And ninety-nine cents, of course (that adds to the authenticity). Start at $10.99, then $20.99, $30.99, and so on. These are good psychological thresholds, hurdles for their penny-pinching minds. How high are they willing to jump?
Of course, you’ll know something they don’t; that the real price is just beneath the reserved tag.
To absolutely ensure that a certain item is held until your return, consider marking up a number of the same items in increasing sums. This adds to the confusion should someone decide to double-check the price. As the items leave the shelf, the price will most certainly climb – that $150.99 (what?!) Transformer is sure to be yours. Teehee … can you hear their outraged outbursts at the toy store’s audacity? Maybe if they weren’t so rude.
During the holidays it’s nice to clean up a bit. Get that haircut, brush those teeth, put on the top hat, pop on the monocle, strike the cane and get out there! As the Marquis, or Duke, or V.I.P.of one sort or another, you are to be afforded various privileges, and if your wealthy industrialist father taught you anything it was that any problem can be bought.
“Sir? Sir? I wonder if you’d be willing to part with that game for a profit. Name your price. Well, now, that’s quite a tidy sum. Luckily for you, I made that while standing here. Hang on, I’ll write you a cheque; I don’t carry that much cash on me.”
Fancy duds, presumptuous, quick to pay you off – yeah, thanks for the money, Mister Sucker. Yoink! Didn’t really want the game anyway.
A well-dressed lady interacting with members of the opposite sex is more likely to accomplish this without any complications. Ladies will have an advantage over the gentlemen here, I’m afraid. Sorry fellas, we can’t win ‘em all.
At this point, you contact your bank to put a block on the cheque. You can also use expired cheques such as result from switching accounts to avoid possible fraud — “Oh no! My bank card is missing!” (But not really :) )
We must absolutely not reward insolent behaviour, and moochiness is no exception. By using this method, the gift is given by someone truly deserving, and contrary to ending in raised fists, the situation results in a handshake. Is that not in the spirit of Christmas? I happen to think so.
Well, dear reader, this is the final edition of 2009. It’s been a tumultuous year, to be sure, but it is my most sincere wish that The Guide has thus far provided a modicum of guidance through it. I will continue to work hard to bring you real, practical solutions to modern urban insolence.
Wishing you and your loved ones the ho-ho-ho-iest Christmas and Auld-Lang-Syne-iest new year. Until next time!