20 Dec


Our gift shopping took a turn for the better tonight; we made several successful purchases from places that weren”t Target, Toys R Us, or Wal Mart. Last night’s shopping was quite the opposite. After determining that we would buy my nephew one of the three lego sets on his list (TIE fighter and Y Wing, Hailfire Droid, and Wookie Attack), we let our fingers do the walking and called 16 different stores.

I was playing a muted video game as I waited on hold, and invariably, some clerk would pick up right as I crashed my video car and whispered “shoot.” That was the first problem. The second was that about 60% of the people I spoke to had trouble understanding me when I said, “I’m looking for some lego sets.” I had to repeat myself a few times, varying the syntax of my request and dumbing it down: “I’m looking for some lego sets” became “some sets of legos” became “legos” became “toys! Do you sell those?” Unfortunately, once I made myself understood, I would usually get passed on to some other clerk, most often the one in the “toy” department. A couple times I would get transferred to the wrong place and the new clerk I was talking to would say, “oh, you want legos,” or, worse, “oh, you want toys,” and then he’d transfer me again. In any case, I’d eventually end up with somebody who had the power to find out.

After explaining that I was looking for some lego sets, I’d be asked which ones. “The TIE Fighter and Y-Wing,” I’d begin. The poor store employee was no doubt dealing with all varieties of hell, and so he or she was understandably in a hurry. “Okay, let me look for you,” the clerk would exclaim. And he was off, wandering the picked-over shelves of Shopko or Toys R Us or Wal-Mart. (I was in a Toys R Us once, five days before Christmas. It’s ugly.) When the poor fool got back on the line, I’d have to explain that there were two more I was looking for.

With the first few stores I called, I accidentally asked for the Hellfire Droid, not realizing just how inappropriate that name might be for a set of legos (ages 8-12). And I got laughed at twice for asking for the Wookie Attack — understandably so.

I must say, though, the clerks were surprisingly nice to me, especially considering I was sitting on my couch playing a video game while they were working “holiday hours” til 10, 11, or 12. Unfortunately, all three lego sets were sold out at every place I called. Hell, on the lego website, they’re even sold out. The Wookie Attack is “not available in this country.” I kid you not.

Tonight, Eileen and I went out to a couple of small shops and basically bought things we’d want. It’s much easier that way.

Don’t worry, though. We’re going to give them away.