My Christmas was a most enjoyable one, as it involved hanging with my family on the coast, watching a shitty Steven Seagal movie, getting a remote controlled helicopter and Neil Young tickets, and then eating so much food I could barely breathe (I'm not even exaggerating). It was a lovely, wholesome, fun-filled and flavorsome way to spend a few days. That being said though, I'd be lying if I said I didn't breathe a sigh of relief when I finally returned to a quiet Castle Mega, made myself a cup of tea, and watched a movie. By myself. Quietly. Silently. By myself. Perhaps observing this enjoyment of one's own company sheds an in-hindsight sort of light on how I handled the True Carnage that occurred the next day. Maybe that's why I was launched into rage and frustration and puzzlement so quickly upon arriving at Chadstone.
|The correct reaction upon hearing someone|
is going to Chadstone on Boxing Day.
Of course, I was completely aware of what I was getting myself into, so I probably completely deserved all of the pain inflicted on me. In fact, this wasn't the first time I'd braved Chadstone on Boxing Day. You read that correctly. Chadstone on Boxing Day. Last year I braved the carnage clusterfuck, and had a time that was equal parts confounding and rage-inducing. This year my attendance was due to two things:
First of all, my parents gave me a hefty Chadstone voucher along with my Neil Young tickets, claiming that I'm "too damn hard to buy for". Well shit, I wanted to get something good. Having gone to the sales last year, I was very aware of the rubbish-y stock that's left over after the screeching flailing of the first feeding frenzy. I suppose with that I can identify a hefty dose of FEAR OF MISSING OUT having bored its talons into my brain and while that's kind of disappointing, fuck it. I need new shoes.
SECONDLY, and far more stupidly, a morbid curiosity was growing inside me. I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew how angry I'd gotten last year, how I'd stumbled out of the shopping centre with a hatred for my fellow man at an all-time high. I'd seen the snatching and the crowds and the madness and the crazed MUST GET BARGAINS ON SHIT I DON'T NEED, and all I could think of was will it be as bad this year? I wanted to know. I needed to know. And I knew at the very least, I'd get some sort of blog post out of it.
So here you are. Boxing Day 2012. Again, I found a very kind family member to give me a lift to the carnage. And again, I think their generosity was motivated by morbid curiosity than actual goodwill towards their ill-fated daughter but you know, I'll take any free lift that I can get.
Even at 9am, it was packed. Packed. Knowing we'd never get to an actual entrance, I barrel-rolled out of the car and walked the rest of the way. I heard a "GOOD LUCK!" fade into the distance as my ride sped away. I took a deep breath, girded my loins, walked inside, and burst into laughter.
At the "intersection" of Tiffany, Burberry, Gucci and bunch of similarly shiny stores full of reflective surfaces, security guards and confounding prices, the lines snaked around and around and around. People were lining up around corners, past escalators, to go inside. Why? WHY? WHY?
Of course, this was first thing in the morning. As the day wore on, the crowds grew and became more and more obnoxious, until it was necessary to do the "Music Festival Shuffle" through the crowd to get from SUPER BARGAIN point A to B. But of course, as the day wore on my sense of humour deteriorated and thus, so too did any thought to take photos. See all the space in the photos? The space for walking? GONE.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I stood around and chuckled to myself for a while, and played "SPOT WHITEY" in the Gucci line (there were four), before heading towards Myer. I'm not entirely sure what came over me, considering the true bloodshed and brutality that I faced there me last year, but that's where I went. Maybe it was momentary bravery brought on by having a laugh, maybe it was because I was listening to The Four Tops, or maybe it's because I was super curious. Or maybe I was just overcome by momentary insanity, because I made a bee-line for the "INTIMATE APPAREL" section, a place akin to Mount Doom to me, in that it's fraught with peril and is fucking terrifying.
Yes, the time had come to brave the battlefield of bra-shopping, an activity that I find to be equal parts intimidating, confusing and demoralising. As a result, I always put it off. I sure as shit wasn't going to go to Bras n Things, because I find that to be a Truly Terrifying Place. The sales assistants swoop down upon you, it looks like a Barbie exploded everywhere, and in between all of the confusion and terror I can barely even remember what damn size I am. So I guess that left Myer. Already, there were bras all over the floor, hangars were strewn everywhere, and the line for the fitting room was something awful. It was obnoxiously crowded. Every few seconds I found myself saying "Excuuuuuuuuse me", as I literally squeezed myself between women and racks (HEH HEH) of bras. People were plonking themselves in the most inconvenient possible places, not bothering to get out of the way, shoving past each other. It's kind of as if with the dawn of Boxing Day so to comes an unspoken rule that "YOU CAN BE A DICK TODAY, BECAUSE IT'S BOXING DAY. IT'S A FREE-FOR-ALL, MOTHERFUCKERS".
I'll say this much: the next person who sees me sans shirt had better know the Saving Private Ryan-esque scene that was endured to purchase those boob-holders. I don't mean to say that there was blood and guts and khaki green everywhere, I just mean to say that it was AWFUL and it was KIND OF TRAUMATISING, and certainly after putting my headphones back on and attempting to navigate my way out of Myer (PRO-TIP: Don't go via the Cosmetics Department), I stood outside with a fair dosage of the ol' Thousand Mile Stare. Add the madness of Boxing Day to the already confusing experience that it is, and you've got yourself cause for some shopping PTSD, yo.
Returning to the massacre of Chaddy's "streets" was like attempting to get from one point to another at a music festival. I take that back. I don't get angry at music festivals. It was like walking down Swanston Street, but about ten times worse. I find that walking from one end of Swanston Street to the other is about 90% likely to make my blood boil. Too many people, not enough space, not enough people with destinations in mind. The people that walk way too slow, the groups that walk way too slow while also walking four abreast, the small children shrieking and getting in the way, the people that stop mid-walk in the middle of the path to confer about something, or take a photo, or just generally be in the way. Call me an impatient asshole, but this is what riles me up. And this time, there were trolleys involved.
I went to look at the foodcourt. It was awful. I walked down to JB Hi-Fi. The line snaked around past the bowling alley. I went down to the other foodcourt, and a disbelieving, "Oh, SHIT!" escaped my lips. I shoved my way through the crowd and into a shoe store. It was so crowded, one literally could not move without actually shoving past people. Shoes were strewn everywhere. Boyfriends stood in the corner, looking vaguely scared and clutching an array of brightly coloured bags. I left almost immediately, for fear that I'd launch into a flying rage at any moment. .
My next location was Fat, which mercifully wasn't full of yelling ladies snatching and shoving. I asked a guy working there how his day had been, and his hand immediately went to his face. "Oh god ... it's been insane. Insane. I cannot wait. Until. This is over."
|I am so glad I don't work in retail anymore.|
It took my ride 45 minutes to get from a carpark entrance to a centre entrance. I jumped into the car and we drove home and watched in disbelief as we whizzed past car after car after car after car banked up along Dandenong Road.
"What the actual fuck?"
The entire time I was shoving and shuffling and stumbling may way around Chadstone (I did a few laps, just to compare crowds and become ever more bemused/angry), I found myself wondering: WHY? For the love of all that is holy, why the hell BOTHER? I know that's hypocritical for me to say, because obviously I went, and obviously I used my voucher to pick up some actual savings on things I needed/wanted, but STILL. I went in the knowledge that it'd be awful, knowing it was a stupid thing to do, knowing I'd hate it, and knowing that a great deal of things wouldn't actually be on sale. I deserved all the internal pain and the barely contained rage that I had to deal with. The truly unpleasant specimens, the obnoxious children, the bitchy women, the sheer volume of duddery and jackassery and assholery.
I went in knowing that, and then spent the entire time being with one thought overwhelming all others: that this Boxing Day shopping frenzy is one of the most stupid, pointless exercises I could possibly imagine. The haggard looking shop girls, the overflowing food courts, the ruthless snatching of stock and the at times mediocre savings and the clothes strewn all over the floor. Everything I saw could only be described as a waste of time and money and effort of the highest degree of unpleasantness.
But you know, I did buy new shoes. So it can't have been all bad.