Updated: Oct 19, 2021
If you live in a relatively posh neighborhood like I do, there is a certain level of shame at being caught shopping at your local dollar or big box store (and no this is not a fancy term I am using to describe the Salvation Army thrift store- not that there's anything wrong with shopping there).
Granted, it makes no sense to feel embarrassed. I mean why would I pay a couple of dollars extra to buy my toothpaste, energy drinks, or toilet paper at a more expensive retail store or pharmacy. Heck, even the quality of items like groceries or furniture at these big box stores has improved dramatically over the past few years.
But still, I constantly I hear those voices in my head. I worry I will run into someone I know and, well, get that dreaded look like "oh...you shop here?". And so, there's been only one solution I could come up with.
I've resorted to becoming a modern-day Mr Dressup.
Yes, that means putting on a disguise right before heading out to the neighborhood big box store. Hoodie, sunglasses, heck even a top hat and a trench coat. Whatever it takes to be incognito.
And the moment I step into the store, everything is well planned out. I am prepared like a true professional: looking down to avoid eye contact, tiptoeing across the isles, being aware of my surroundings at all times in case a familiar face should suddenly appear (and eventually rat me out). I've even stooped as low as to picking up a stick from a nearby shelf and acting like I'm blind.
Fortunately, thus far, my spider senses have rarely let me down, and the moment I should feel a tingle or hear a nearby voice I recognize, I've also got my plan B. Yep, you guessed it, using nearby items as cover ups.
I will immediately grab any big item within reach, and put it right across my face. If its the cereal box alley, well then, I usually go for the Vector (it's a bigger box), the Fruit Loops or Cocoa Puffs if all else fails. I'll then pretend to be reading the ingredients meticulously till the enemy has walked on by (hey I could have forgotten my glasses no?) .
If its that time of the year, and I happen to be perusing the Halloween aisle, again, many options are now on the table. Picking up a princess Elsa costume and lifting it in front of me? Been there. Done that.
At times, I've even hidden behind large objects like lawn mowers, sofas, heck even a couple of store attendants. I'm willing to put out all the stops in order to avoid getting caught "with my pants down" (ok weird analogy, and I have yet to take my pants down in a store).
And, should I have absolutely no other alternative, well, I can always stick my head under my shirt just like a human ostrich.
But again, getting back to my earlier point, why do some of us feel such shame? I mean, like I said earlier, what better place to shop for bargains than these big discount stores? If I can get a board game, a puzzle or toy for someone's birthday at a more reasonable price, why should this be considered less valuable? (praying of course that they will never ask me for the receipt).
Soap is also soap last I checked right? It's not like you wouldn't find your favorite soap in these places (they have all the varieties). Say it's Irish Spring you normally buy, do you think you will have to settle for a lesser option like say the Irish Sewer brand or Third-World Spring, perhaps some soap made with a lesser animal fat?
Does it really matter if you get your pool chlorine at Walmart do you really have to go to an overpriced pool store for the same darn item? Or is it just so that you can feel like an obnoxious bourgeois as you stroll by those 15 k Jacuzzis and 10 k patio dining sets. To see and be seen (or in my case, to never be seen).
Is the fertilizer at big box store X better quality than at a more expensive specialized store? Perhaps. I don't know, maybe a little? But it's not like the latter will turn your plant into Jack's giant Beanstalk. Or that your white socks purchased at the local superstore make you look less distinguished.
Ok, so I guess I've made my point (or perhaps just embarrassed myself) that there is absolutely NO rational reason why I or anyone for that matter should be feeling uncomfortable buying goods at the local superstore. It makes sense on several levels as I've so (poorly) stated, and they have most of what one generally needs.
I think I've finally convinced myself to forego the Halloween masks and oversized dark sunglasses. And from now on, the next time I plan on going to a big box store, I have resolved to simply heading out really, really early in the morning... you know during the extended elderly shopping hours when the place is virtually empty (heck I have greying hair so I think I should qualify).