I'm not good at shopping. Like, really not good at it. It involves a whole host of things that I'd rather avoid: going out in public, talking to strangers and more recently, finding parking. None of these are my forte, which is why I try to shop online as much as possible. Nevertheless, I found myself out shopping yesterday, being that it's Fishy's birthday tomorrow and I was pressed for time.
I did start out online, though. I started out online some time ago when I was reading Dear Abby and she mentioned this cat book, about the history of cats. Fish loves cats, and also Mary loves cats, the bartender loves cats, Kelly and Simone both love cats, and so on. So being the quick thinker I am, I carefully write down the title and author of said book, figuring that I'd hit up a book store and buy half a dozen or so of them and hand them out to the cat people as opportunities arose (also one for me!). I wrote it on a post-it, stuck the post it to a receipt and stuck the receipt back in my purse. And went about my life.
So now weeks have gone by, it's too late to get the damn thing from Amazon and I need to find a bookstore. My awesome brother, practically a north side native now, informs me that I can find a great big Borders at Clark and Diversey and not only that, the mall across the street has a garage I can park in. Which of course, since I'm not paying attention I pass the first time and have to go around the block and start over. But hey, at least I found the place. So I hide my backpack under the seat, grab my purse and head for Borders.
I find the animals section and reach into my purse to get the receipt with the sticky note on it. Surprise! It's not in there. And since I wrote it down, I didn't bother to memorize the title, let alone the author. As I'm making a mental note to flog my smug self, I hear a voice behind me say "Can I help you?"
OK, let me just say something right here. I do not like talking to people who are strangers. Most especially I don't like talking to people who I perceive as having greater knowledge about the subject at hand than I do. For example, I am terrified of asking for drinks in a bar, because the bartender knows more about making drinks than I do. Even with my bartender friend I am afraid (blessedly he pretty much knows what I like and rarely asks me anymore). The most feared groups for me are bartenders, librarians, and the pizza guy. But just about anyone who is working somewhere when I need something will turn me into a quivering pile of jelly. So whereas a normal person hears "Can I help you?" and is grateful, when I hear it I turn into a stammering nut. The fact that I have no idea what my book is called or who wrote it is not particularly helpful. Not surprisingly, the guy can't find my book based on my half-assed description. I try to explain about the note, that it must have fallen out of my purse, but the guy obviously didn't care and scuttled off to go make fun of me behind the counter with the other people who are smart at finding books and remembering what they're called.
I continued to shop, making it a point to avoid the area where the guy tried to "help" me and eventually find a few things I think Fish would like and buy them. And go back to my car. The parking garage I'm parked at is an unattended lot. To get out you have to go to the little kiosk, put your ticket in and some money, and it will validate your ticket so that the gate will let you out. I put my ticket in the kiosk. $9. I have $5 in my purse. Fuck. I hit cancel and start thinking about where I can find an ATM. But then I see the sign that says I can pay with a credit card. So I put my ticket back in. And now I can't find a slot for my credit card. I tried one slot and realized it was for bills. I hit cancel again. Maybe it's broken? It doesn't look broken. I put my ticket back in. I look around me. No credit card slot that I can see. Hit cancel. Debate whether I want to walk up to the one on the 4th floor and try it there. Decide there has to be something I'm missing. Put my ticket back in. Nothing. Hit cancel.
Finally it dawns on me, what the little pictures are trying to say. That the credit card goes in the same slot as the ticket! Who knew? I smack myself on the forehead. Problem solved, I put my ticket back in the slot. And the machine spits it right back out at me. "Invalid ticket" the machine tells me. What? I try again. Same thing. Apparently, you can only put your ticket in the thing so many times before they decide you are so stupid you should have to pay full price for a lost ticket. Swell.
When I finally got out of the garage I went over to Target because I needed some wrapping paper for Fish's gifts. In the aisle labeled "wrapping paper" I find all kinds of great paper...for weddings, baby showers and graduations. For your average birthday boy there is nothing. NOTHING. The aisle on one side has greeting cards, on the other side candles. This is the only paper they have? I think. What the hell kind of Target is this? I start thinking maybe I can get one of the plain white bags for weddings and color it or something. Which seems ridiculous for anyone over 12, but I am desperate here. I decide to think on it a while I wander over to the toy section to find some goofy Star Wars thing I can give to Fish (which I found: a Darth Vader bobble head pen). Heading back over to the wrapping paper, something brightly colored caught my eye. It was more wrapping paper! Four aisles away from the other wrapping paper aisle. Seriously, whose idea was that to put wrapping paper in two totally different places in the same store? I find some paper appropriate for a mid-20's male and make for the registers.
Walking across the parking lot, I pass a guy who is sitting in his running car with gansta rap blaring loud enough you can hear it 6 blocks away. As I walk by he turns the music off, leans halfway out the window and SCREAMS at me, "Woo! That is a fine ass! I mean, that is a FINE ass! Can I PLEASE get your number?" The entire city of Chicago turned around to look at me. People, I know I am an attention whore, but there are limits. For instance, calling everyone within a 10 mile radius to examine my ass.
I get in Alistair and curse myself for losing my sticky note, being unable to figure out a garage pay booth by myself and not having a stash of wrapping paper already in my house.
From now on I am only shopping on the internet.
Post script: Today on the train to work, I pull the book I am reading out of my backpack, to discover my receipt/post-it combo marking the place where I left off. Fucking A.