Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Shopping Styles: Predatory, Social or Desperation?

As AdventureMan once said, I am not entirely sure I agree with what I am about to say. Feel free to jump in.

Today I was mopping the floors, washing the floors and vacuuming the carpets. This is not – way not – something I like to do, but something I do because long ago somewhere in my tiny little brain, a seed was planted that a dirty floor was a shameful thing. I remember once thinking “people could eat off my floor; there must be a whole meal here!” when I left it unwashed for a few days. In my last three incarnations, in Kuwait and in Qatar, I was blessed with wonderful women who came in and took care of my floors for me, also the dusting, and the laundry, and the windows, and all the things I now do. It takes a surprising chunk of time out of my day. 😦

Oh! Yes. The shopping.

I just wanted you to know that I am not cleaning my house willingly or joyfully, but dutifully. I have discovered, however, that mindless physical activity frees the mind, and you never know where a free mind will go.

I have a friend coming to visit, and this friend and I have had so much fun together, through the years, exchanging books, going out on double dates with our husbands to wonderful places in France and Germany, and . . . shopping.

Finding a person who shops the way you do is a real blessing. I say I am not much of a shopper, but we all have to shop sometimes. Mostly, I shop alone, I am a predator. I am looking for specific game, and I want the juiciest prey at the best price. Most of my friends are like me – we don’t hunt in packs, because when you shop in packs a group mentality surfaces, and you get home with things you never would have bought.

I do shop with other solitary predators from time to time; this is how you know them. You don’t shop together. You shop the same stores, sometimes just the same mall, meeting up to compare items and to go on to the next stop. Most of my predatory shoppers friends know their own style, know their own preferences, and few ask me what I think, nor do I ask them. We do exclaim gleefully over our purchases.

In the military, in Germay, there would be shopping tours to take you to places. Sometimes I took them, most times I didn’t. It depended on whether or not you had to stay together. I saw people buy some truly appalling things because it had a particular name or a particularly low price. The fact that it was obviously inferior did not even seem to strike their consciousness, once the herd shopping mentality kicked in. If the tour were going to a village, and people were on their own and then met up, I would do that. I went to Paris on such a trip; leaving
Germany at midnight, leaving the tour at six in the morning for croissants and coffee at La Duree at its original location on Rue Royale arranging to meet up with them later.

The Musee D’Orsay had just opened, and I was dying to see the exhibit. I spent the morning there, leaving as the hoardes started arriving, had a little lunch of Vietnamese salad rolls on the Left Bank, and strolled over the bridge to the shopping areas around Rue Royale. I found three great outfits at Galleries Lafayette, grabbed a salad from their gorgeous food court, and met up with my group at six to depart. I was home by midnight. 🙂 I would have liked a friend, but I didn’t know anyone, once again I was new, and Paris is so easy that just 12 hours there was a piece of cake.

Social shoppers find us solitary predators very strange. They live in a different world than we do. They consult. Their shopping goals are not so much the goods as the experience. They enjoy the company, and they like having someone to help them make their purchasing decisions. They often meet up for shopping and lunch, and some even shop to kill time. (What luxury! In my whole life, I have never had time to kill; I always have projects, and lists of things that need doing!)

I have been one other kind of shopper, though, and that is a desperation shopper. It was when I was a young mother. Shopping was for survival. I never knew when the baby would start to cry, need to be nursed, or need a change. When I had a babysitter, I was always aware of how little time I had and how much I had to get done. Once a month, I would go to the commissary, about twenty miles away, to buy a month’s worth of diapers, meat (we ate more meat then), canned goods and paper goods.

I see the same desperation in the elderly here in Florida; shopping takes energy and you never know when your energy will desert you. As you can see, I am still thinking about my experience at the Navy Commissary, and I now I can empathize. I might be grumpy and aggressive, too, when I reach a stage where I remember having energy, and now I don’t know where it has gone. I may even scowl at cheerful, energetic people because I wish I still were . . .

We’re all wired so differently. There may be some shopping styles to which I am oblivious. Can you think of any?

January 8, 2011 Posted by | Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, France, Friends & Friendship, Germany, Living Conditions, Relationships, Shopping, Social Issues, Values | Leave a comment