From The Archives: Shopping Gladiators


November 22, 2013 by T. Gregory Argall

(Here’s a tactical review from a few years ago. This year’s targeted gift will be different, of course, but just as obscure and pointless.)

It is time, once again, to arm yourself and review battle strategies.

That’s right; it’s time for Christmas shopping. Or Hanukkah shopping. Or Kwanzaa shopping. Or whatever. Regardless of your chosen faith, there are no doubt people who are depending on you to fulfill their unwarranted demands for undeserved gifts this holiday season.

And that means you have to go to… The Mall, just when the rest of humanity is also going to the mall. People who, for the rest of the year, don’t even know what a mall is, let alone have the knowledge to tell you where it is, are suddenly attending the mall in droves, apparently with the sole purpose of obstructing you from achieving your goal, which, if you’re smart, is simply to get in, purchase a pre-targeted gift and then get the hell out of that madhouse as quickly as you can. If blood must be shed and puppies must be orphaned in order for this to happen, so be it. It is the price we must pay in order to celebrate this joyous season of love and understanding.

But first, you need a plan…


Step 1 – Pre-Target Your Gifts – The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. Before you even leave your home to go to the mall, know exactly what you are going in for and avoid all distractions. Any minor misstep could drag you unwillingly into the violent mosh-pit of bargain-frenzied mall-zombies, never to be seen again.

My pre-target strategy is a deviously multi-facetted process that has never failed me. I chose some random bit of useless kitch that serves no purpose and I get one for everyone on my gift-giving list. I find these items just as they start to make their inevitable slump from the sale shelf to the bargain bin and I buy them in such unnecessary quantities that market analysts sit up and take notice. Suddenly, it seems, sales trends are indicating that this item will be the must-have gift of the year. By the time I actually present the gifts to my loved ones, as well as my tolerated ones, the gifts have become as coveted as gold and stem-cells, despite their lack of any actual worth or value.

This year, my targeted gift item is “Osama bin Groovin’” a CD collection of the al Qaeda leader singing some of the greatest hits of the ‘70s. Sure, you scoff now, but I’m already stocked up and two weeks from now old ladies will be having knife fights in the parking over the last few available copies of this soon-to-be inexplicably desired musical compilation and you’ll be bartering the sale of your wife’s kidney in order to get the CD on the black market.
Osama bin Groovin' copy


Step 2 – Vehicle Preparation – The holiday shopping season sometime requires us to do things that we wouldn’t normally do, so it’s best to take steps to make identifying you afterwards somewhat difficult. A key part of that is choosing the right vehicle. Select a common vehicle in a non-descript colour for your trip to the mall. (My friend Tracy has a beige Toyota Corolla and she didn’t even notice it was missing when I did my shopping.) Once you’ve acquired your vehicle, smear some mud on the license plates, just in case.

When you arrive at the mall parking lot, park your car as far as possible from the mall doors. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it will actually save you several minutes, possibly hours. The parking areas closest to the mall will be filled with wandering vehicular nomads spending hours driving aimlessly looking for a convenient parking spot. There is no such thing. It’s a myth, the convenient parking spot. It doesn’t exist in December. Also, when you are executing your exit strategy from the mall, you can travel farther and faster on foot that you can by car in the dimly lit fustercluck that is a holiday season mall parking lot.


Step 3 – Take No Prisoners – As you enter the mall, moving directly towards your target gift, make no deviations and keep one thought in mind, make it your mantra… Head down, elbows up. Stop for nothing and for no one. Don’t even slow down and never look back. If someone gets in your way, well, they should have known better and having them writhing on the floor, clutching some dislocated body part while screaming in agony will serve to distract others from buying what may, in fact, be the last available whatever-the-hell-you’re-getting.

Besides yourself, there are only two types of people in the mall during the holiday season: Bystanders and Barricades. You’ve got to be able to spot the difference and use one against the other. A Bystander can easily be converted into a weapon in order to shift a Barricade. However, a Barricade cannot be so easily turned to your advantage.

This is the most dangerous and crucial stage of your mission and feelings of compassion or remorse will only spell disaster. Do you really want to have to explain to your children that you simply didn’t have the courage, guts and killer instinct needed to show them how much you love them with a stupid, meaningless gift?


Step 4 – Get Out – Once you made your purchase it is time to battle your way back to the exit doors. I find that the well-timed collapse of a toy- or candy-filled display rack makes a convenient distraction, channeling the rubes out of my way and clearing a path to freedom. However, be sure you don’t get trapped in a mob of your own making. The display rack should tip away from you, not towards you.

Outside the mall, as you make your was across the parking lot, pay no attention to the vehicles circling in a fruitless quest for a place to park. They are moving slower than glaciers and are of no importance to you. As you reach your car, check to be sure that the license plates are still obscured. Driving out of the parking lot, you have two options. You can join the slow parade into oblivion that has trapped every other vehicle, or you can blaze a new trail, make a path by force. Use any available semi-flat surface and narrow space; a gap between two parked cars, the sidewalk, whatever it takes to get you and your purchases back to the comfort of your home as quickly as possible. Stop signs and driver courtesy are for lesser mortals. You’ve finished your holiday shopping and by right of conquest that makes you far superior to those around you.

Smiling the contented smile of the good and just, you can make your way home, there to await the Christmas morning thrill of listening to Osama bin Laden’s moving rendition of Piano Man, along with the infectiously hip-swaggering rhythm of Play That Funky Music, Infidel.


Happy Holidays and keep your head down!




One thought on “From The Archives: Shopping Gladiators

  1. […] meaningless gift. This was his interpretation of Step One of my own Christmas shopping plan (as outlined a couple of weeks ago). If that’s the case, then he’s probably a regular reader of this blog and I […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: