My husband is not a frequent shopper. He avoids the hobby. Abhor is a strong word, but I think it's pretty close to how my husband regards the in-store experience.
You can imagine my surprise when he initiated the task last Saturday. We were out of town, at a weekend sports tournament with one of our kids, hanging out in the hotel between games, when he stood up from his chair and uttered the five words I've never heard him say: "I'm going to the mall."
I would have accompanied him, but someone had to supervise our kid. So I sent him - alone. Innocent and inexperienced. To the mall. Like a lamb to the slaughter.
I knew there was a reason for his trip. He needed leather gloves and we hadn't been able to find a suitable pair thus far this year. I also knew when he returned there'd be a story. He didn't disappoint.
The good news: he found his leather gloves. The bad news: in order to purchase them, he needed to complete the checkout process. According to him, it went something like this:
He found the gloves and went to the nearest checkout counter. There was only one elderly couple in front of him. Things looked pretty good, until the sales clerk asked them if they'd like to save 10 percent by opening a charge card. The couple jumped at the bait and the clerk began asking a series of questions required to complete the credit application.
A little aside about my dear and wonderful husband. He is kind. He is considerate. He is generous. He has a great sense of humor. He has many more positive attributes too numerous to mention here. Patience, however, is not his strong suit. So as the couple in front of him was giving their address, phone number and name of first-born child, my husband lost the one thin thread of patience he possesses and stormed (his description) over to another nearby cash register.
Trouble is, there were three customers in front of him and they were also being enticed to open store credit accounts. Most people would cut their losses at this point and stand quietly (albeit impatiently) in the second line. Not my husband.
He stormed (again, his word choice) back to the first line, where the married couple was reciting their social security numbers. I can only imagine my husband's posture and demeanor at this point. Makes me smile out loud.
Finally, the couple finished their transaction and my husband was up to bat. He placed the gloves on the counter and reached for his wallet. Unfortunately things weren't going to be that simple.
Clerk (perky voice): "Would you like to save 10 percent today by opening an in-store credit account?"
Husband: "No thank you."
"Are you enrolled in our super shopper bonus points program?
"I don't think so."
"I can enroll you today if you'd like."
"No thank you."
"People in the super shoppers club get valuable coupons and special in-store savings."
(Through clenched jaw) "No. Thank. You."
"Would you like make a tax-deductible donation to charity?"
"I'd just like to buy these gloves."
"All right. What is your zip code?"
"My zip code?" I'm sure my husband was exerting extreme energy to maintain a semblance of calm at this point (and probably not succeeding).
"We use zip codes to track customers. It helps us serve you better."
"I'm not from around here. You don't need my zip code."
"Okay Can I get your email?"
"We use your email to send you valuable coupons and offers."
"I'm not interested."
"Do you want to give a friend's email? We could send the offers to them."
I imagine a deep sigh here. Blood pressure was off the charts. Cheeks a deep shade of crimson. I give my husband credit for not walking out gloveless.
"I just want to buy these gloves. Can I do that?"
"Of course. Credit or debit?"
"Neither. I'm paying in cash."
At this point the clerk paused. "Cash?" she said, looking a bit befuddled. "Hang on just a minute. I'll have to call my manager."
There is more, but for me the story ends here. By this point, I was laughing too hard to hear the rest of what my husband had to say. If he ever decides to go to the mall again, I think I'll go with him. I figure the show will probably be better in person.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" You can read more and follow her column on the Slices of Life page on Facebook.