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Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “shopping”

A shop of memories

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©Marie Gail Stratford

It’s strange how certain places, songs, things, are associated with specific people. Maira had that. Every time she visited the city, she would always drop by her favourite department store.

And every time it would bring back memories.

She had visited that store so many times with different people. All with whom she shared a special bond.

That bond was rejuvenated whenever she stepped through the big glass door.

Even if she was alone, she always felt that sweet melancholy of beautiful times passed.

And so, each time, she always bought something from there. As a reminder of the visit.

 

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

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Helping the economy

http://oncondado.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/SHOPPING-BAGS.jpgThere is a saying that “men go shopping to get want they want; women go shopping to find out what they want”. In fact, females don’t have a very favourable reputation when it comes to shopping. Because put plainly, women can shop all the time, regardless of how much money they (don’t have) and they can never have enough of anything, especially shoes and clothes.

Men supposedly also have a special characteristic – that of being able to constrain themselves. But women…well, when they go shopping, it is very very easy to get carried away. And they more often than not do.

With the advent of online shopping, moreover, it has become all the more easier to get overexcited and buy more things that you need or sometimes can even afford.

Shopping for women has become a form of therapy; something men cannot understand. And this is where the gender differences become more apparent. Because it all comes down to the fact that women are excited to receive something new, even if they spend half their paycheck to get it. And despite visiting numerous stores in search of that perfect – affordable, if possible – item, they will always return to the one they saw first that may have a three-digit price tag, simply because it is a well-known fact that it is the first-view-first-click that will please you the most.

Yes, women are weird. Maybe a bit high-maintenance at times. And very often insane. But they are the ones that fill this world with sunshine. Because no man ever complained when the woman standing next to him looks glamorous wearing all the things she just spent her (or his) wage on

An act outside the circus

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/images/attachement/jpg/site1/20090120/00221917dec40adf8adc01.jpgYou could feel the tension with every tic of the second hand on the clock. It was almost seven in the morning and the sun was already up for almost an hour now. So were a few hundred customers ready to leap like hungry jaguars into the store.

It was the annual big clearance sale. One like no other. Because prices were literally slashed to half-price or even less. Everything was a bargain. As long as you were lucky enough to find anything before anyone else snatched it.

Almost everyone was prepared. They had done their research well in advance, noting down what they were after and on what aisle or corner the desired products were located. This was no time to stroll, see and decide. You either knew and decisively went for it, or you got trampled over. Sometimes – well, most times – you got trampled over either way.

As soon as the clock struck seven, it sounded as if church bells were singing hallelujah. The store employees neared the locked doors, and you could almost see the fear reflected in their eyes. It was not an easy job having to open gates to an ecstatic mob that was determined to not let anyone or anything stand in their way. It was certain that they had no way of escaping the crowd once the doors were opened. The only thing they could do was stand petrified right there on the spot, hoping that as few injuries as possible would be incurred upon them.

It was like a stampede.

And soon, all the orderly placed items had been flung around, displaced, ravaged out of their packaging, some even damaged already, now laying ripped or broken on the floor. Labels and tags were torn from their original products and if you didn’t know exactly what you were looking for, there was no way you would find it.

Security guards marched like wardens up and down the aisles, trying in vain to restore order in what had clearly become a jungle. “Lady, please don’t take the products out of their packaging or try them on”. The phrase was repeated like a pre-recorded message. But just like such ads, it was completely ignored. “Lady, what did I just say? Who am I saying these things too anyway?” The security guards felt like teachers in a kindergarten of rowdy children, their despair echoed in the sound of their exasperated sighs. “I’m almost done,” the lady in question barked back. Done with what exactly, no one knew. But she continued to do precisely that which the security guard had grown tired of voicing.

The store employees who had gone to open the doors, were now finally freed, and most were still standing. They turned around and saw a circus. The store had in the blink of an eye transformed into a huge ring, where in the absence of a ringmaster, all animals had broken loose and were frantically trying to defuse the tension that had accumulated for hours inside of them. Items were being thrown around, with some shoppers acrobatically leaping and sliding across other persons to grab hold of them. People were pushing, shoving, pinching, beating, hair-pulling, even bruising each other, simply to get closer to their listed items. Insanity had taken over and blinded these buyers, who like in a trance could see nothing beyond their golden target. The frenzy was intensified by shrieks, cries and insults being tossed around just as easily and loudly as the items that accompanied them.

It took five hours for the performance to wear out. Some shoppers remained there for the entire time. Others had retrieved their treasure and left. But those few who had persisted right until closing time guarded their loot and searched for more, like lions wanting to relieve an insatiable hunger.

The employee who went to lock the door after the final customer left had a ripped sleeve dangling on his left side. His shirt was torn under his right pocket and he had lost two buttons.

“We’re not paid enough for this,” he sighed as he turned the key, glad that this circus act was over.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Circus

…And some pasta

shopping basketThere was a supermarket rush this week. Everyone for some reason or the other was hastily grabbing a shopping basket (or cart), stacking it up and then waiting endless minutes in line at the cashier to pack it all away and leave.

But that wasn’t the interesting part.

The most remarkable trait of this whole incident was what everyone was shopping.

And this largely also depended on the age group they were in.

For example, the two twenty somethings who had come in as if they had just emerged from a hippy concert at the beach somewhere, had filled their basket with snacks, beer, chips, biscuits, sausages, and some pasta.

Yet, the elegantly dressed woman in her forties in the next queue preferred to load up on fruit, frozen vegetables, meat, bread and crackers, olive oil, milk, and some pasta.

The much older 97-year old man who grabbed the opportunity offered by the long wait to start a conversation, had instead selected lentils and beans, some fruit, some canned foodstuff, and some pasta.

So what can be deduced by all this? It is all a matter of perspective – and age. It is also interesting to note how you tend to change nutritional values as you grow older. But maybe one thing is for sure: pasta is ever-lasting…

Decisions, decisions…

DecisionsThe problem with being indecisive is that you don’t know what to do. It’s normal when you are faced with a tough decision that will affect your life. But when it concerns a seemingly easy decision, like for example what ice cream flavours to choose, then it becomes a problem, particularly because by the time you finally make up your mind, the ice cream parlour has closed and you are left with no ice cream.

Or for example when you go out to shop one thing and see a million others that you would like to purchase. Not being able to decide instantly means you end up with a large shopping spree and an often (over)charged credit card. Sometimes even without that one thing you had gone to buy in the first place.

However, things change when there are important decisions to make, such as where you want to live, for example, or what you want to do with your life. Lack of determination means you are forced to cohabitate with a confusion constantly stirring inside of you; one day it will erupt and it won’t be pretty.

Indecision is a torment. They say it is preferable to make a decision, no matter how wrong it may turn out to be, rather than not take any action at all. When you lurch from indecision to doubt of whether you’ve taken the right decision, to changing your mind, and eventually never deciding, you are in essence living in a nightmare, where in the end you end up exhausted by the internal struggle that is wearing out your psyche.

It is actually harder than it seems to make decisions, maybe that is why policy-makers are so highly paid – they have to decide for the fate of so many people. It takes strength, courage and a bit of audacity to state a choice and stand by it. It takes even more boldness to decide on something and then make it the right decision.

Find your melons here

Farmers-Markets-1-640x425On a sunny Saturday morning, most people would like to sleep in – well a little later than usual that is – and maybe pass the rest of the day calmly, relax and have fun. I would know. I like to sleep in on weekends. But recently I have discovered something different for a Saturday morning. A place where you get fun, excitement, humor, puns, fresh food, smells of all sorts, and a lot of pushing and shoving. Something like a merry-go round only cheaper. And you get food out of it.

Farmers’ markets have been around for centuries. Producers get up even before the break of dawn to set up stalls with their fresh produce, ready to advertise that “they have the best [enter product here], yes it is true!”. They are markets that exist worldwide and reflect their local culture and economy. And (I never thought I would say this) but you can actually learn and observe a lot by visiting one.

For starters, even if you made an effort to get out of bed at 10am on a Saturday in order to go and purchase (cheap) fresh fruit at the market, the farmer who encourages you to taste before you buy, has been there since at least 5am and for him 10am is as good as noon.

You have so many stalls and products to choose from. The prices are evidently much much lower than at a commercial market, and the products are markedly better. Producers even cut open fruit and vegetables to demonstrate their freshness and ripeness. And you can actually smell that natural scent that unprocessed food is supposed to have.

Then if you visit such a market a couple of times, you realize that each producer has their own post. And they remember you. They might (eventually) even give you lower prices, since you’ve become a “frequent flyer”.

But the best part of the market, is observing the people there. The originality in the yelling that goes on to advertise the produce – “I’ve got the best melons, yes I do. Good for me!”; “You won’t believe the cherries I’m selling today”; “I’m practically giving my pears away”; “Hey lady, where are you going? You won’t see oranges like these elsewhere!”; “Sir, how about these fresh from the ground potatoes?”.

Then you see all these (mostly older) people pulling their market cart along and selecting the best produce with which to fill it up with. And they stop in the middle of the really narrow makeshift corridors, forcing the one behind who was abstractly glancing at the prices of the stall on the left to bump into them, and causing a pile-up of shoppers and trolleys, stepping on a few feet in the meantime. And the pushing and shoving is not something fun either.

But at the end of the day, you get fresh produce that ensure a healthy lifestyle plus you’ve had your dose of human socialization and reactions for the week!

It also shatters the delusions that farmers are folk of the lesser kind who simply grow crop and then try to sell them. From what it seems, they are the ones closer to nature, who still have a job, and who know how to appreciate the goods of life. So next time you see a farmers’ market, take a stroll over, you might even learn something while getting a taste of real food.

Shopping for a different mood

It’s not just Upper East Side ‘Cosmo’ girls that go shopping.  Nor is it simply shopaholics. It is a known fact that when a woman is upset she goes shopping. Even if you don’t really need anything, you will always find something to buy. Strolling in and out of all those shops, there will always be something that will catch your eye; that will strike you as new and extraordinary and will pull you towards it, calling you to make it yours. It is also a fact that people don’t want others to tell them how to spend their money, but everyone loves buying stuff. That is why shopping is often perceived as a form of therapy. It is a mood-lifter after all, even if it is only short-term. But if you keep your spending in reasonable measure, retail therapy can have a longer-lasting effect.

Studies on this interesting issue have in fact found that shopping can actually make you happy. Shopping is deemed as treating yourself to something nice and this has a lasting positive impact on your mood, shoving aside any negative emotional side-effects. Of course it doesn’t really erase the reason you were in a bad mood but at least it helps you overcome it. Purchases from retail therapy are considered overwhelmingly beneficial, leading to mood boosts and no regrets or guilt. And there always seem to be positive consequences to buying yourself a small treat, for in the end you do feel better. Perhaps it is also the prospect that these “comfort purchases” will improve your image to the outside world; the allure that you will look better, even if you’re feeling blue inside.

However, the reason that a therapeutic shopping spree boosts our mood can be traced back to the brain releasing the chemical dopamine which is essential for our mental and physical health. Dopamine is associated with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, and it is released when we experience something new, exciting or challenging. And for many people, shopping is all those things. Walking in to a store and seeing all those things you haven’t seen before, trying on clothes and shoes you haven’t tried on before, is an instant pick-me-up.

Shopping therefore can be enormously rewarding to us. And like the author of the “Shopaholic” series, Sophie Kinsella, said “Honestly, shopping beats therapy, anytime. It costs the same and you get a dress out of it”.

P.S. Yes, I did recently go on a shopping therapy spree! But no, I am not trying to justify it. It does work!

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