Chuck and I ventured out into the retail world the other night. Eight days before Christmas is no time to be in and out of local shops, big box retailers and most certainly not a mall. But we needed a quick chat with a Genius at the Apple store, so we headed out to the Pioneer Valley. Which, if you’re going to do something as silly as shopping a week and a day before Christmas, isn’t a bad place to be so silly. I must say it all went rather smoothly. The individual stores in Hadley weren’t too crowded. We crossed a lot of little errands off our list. Feeling giddy with success we headed down to the Ingleside Mall in Holyoke.
First off, we actually found a parking space in sight of an entrance. Chuck slung the laptop over his shoulder and off we went through the slush and into the strangely electric, oddly artificial and perfectly normal world that is “The Mall”. The Apple Genius was accurately named and our minor confusion quickly resolved. Then we decided to venture out again into the main mall. It was crowded, but not bump-into-people-every-two-steps kind of crowded. We traveled from one end to the other (maybe 50 or 60 miles?) and found most folks very easy to deal with - even the guys manning the little kiosks who jump out in front of you to pitch their products. They’re good, but they were also tired and anxious as they watched the holiday profit making clock winding down. But our slightly exaggerated response, begging off because of exhaustion and hunger as we wished them better luck with their next customer, left most of them smiling.
I’m not a curmudgeonly person to begin with, but during the holiday season I am determinedly cheerful. I find that if you’re standing in a long line at a register and folks are sighing, moaning and muttering, that can really permeate the space. So I slap a smile on my face and start looking other people in the eye at the same time (I do avoid tipping over into a crazed appearance!). It’s very disarming. I also try for a polite and upbeat social exchange with the clerk. It is both heartening and sad to see their surprise and watch them visibly brighten when you ask after them.
If you still have shopping to do before Christmas, bring your best smile and be prepared to trot it out at the oddest moments. If nothing else, it will be an interesting social experiment and should help you pass the time in line!
“One kind word can warm three winter months.”
- Japanese Proverb