Now it’s time to take any gift cards you got for Christmas and redeem them. Do you hate when you walk into a retail store and the salesperson is high pressure, or do you like them trying to “help” you buy stuff? After the normal initial welcome to the store and spiel about what the current sales are, they still won’t leave your side and let you shop in peace. As you parous through the racks, BAM! Their face is right next to yours asking if you like that style and telling you where you can find more. When I was at Dick’s in Vestal, I said hi to my friend Gretchen and we started to catch up on things, but the next thing I know the sales lady grabbed a coat off of the rack I was looking at and totally put it on me while Gretchen and I were facing each other talking! The sales ninja tugged on the coat’s arms once they were on, zipped it up and everything! Gretchen looked at me like, “Are you ok? Blink if you need help!” I gave her a look back like, “I have no idea what’s going on right now.” The sales lady was super nice and she was right, the coat was stunning, but still! But then when you pick out some clothes to try on, you turn around to ask your shadow to open a fitting room and she’s vanished into thin air! You look around the store and tumble weeds blow past. There’s not another soul in sight. Maybe you are in a horror movie? Did everyone go on break at the same time? Do you have to lock up now because something horrible has happened to the staff? Are they hiding somewhere on their cell phones? After searching all of the aisles for 10 minutes, you finally flag someone down…only to be told you have way too many items. Why can I only try on 3 at a time? Is the general population less likely to steal if they have fewer things to try on? Do they say, “Oh, I was going to risk jail time and take this shirt if I was allowed 6 items, but not with only 3 being allowed at a time.” So after trying on 15 things with only 3 at a time in the dressing room, you decide only 1 thing actually looks good on you in that horrible full length fun mirror with unflattering lighting in the dressing room. Now that you’re fully depressed, it’s time to check out. Again, nobody in sight is working there. You walk up to other customers to try and decide if they are employees or not, and now they think you’re the creepy one because they’re just regular shoppers also trying to shop in peace. Once you finally find someone and nothing rings up right and you have to fight for the sale price, you walk out the door in victory…only to have the metal detector go off because they forgot to take the explosive ink device off of your new shirt. Everyone in the store whips around and looks at you like you’re a hardened criminal and they want to call 911 on you. So you try to assure everyone this is all just one big misunderstanding, as you lift your bag and say, “They must’ve forgotten to take the security tag off! Everything is going to be alright!” Why am I suddenly explaining my life to these complete strangers anyways? You can hear them whisper, “That’s the weird lady who walked up to us and stared to see if we worked here or not!” So now you have to go back to the register and interrupt the huge line of annoyed people trying to check out because you didn’t notice that they left the ink pod on your shirt. As you head to the door AGAIN to leave you say a quick prayer that no alarm bells go off this time so you can finally go! Here’s to hoping your shopping experience goes smoothly this gift card season!