Tidings of commercialism and joy

The pre-festive rush is in full swing, dammit. If I used to be jaundiced before about the whole "Spirit of Christmas" thing before I leapt over the counter, as it were, I'm much worse now. Among our customers, the score is roughly ten to one in favour of "Can you ship this yesterday?" over "Merry Christmas!" or any other expression involving peace on earth, goodwill to men, and other topics unconnected to express delivery.

There is also supposed to be a recession on, but I can't say that Chris and I have noticed. In three days after Thanksgiving, we did more business than in the whole month of March, which is gratifying, but leads to much collapsing into bed at 11pm, groaning slightly at the prospect of the same again tomorrow. It's probably safe to say that our level of customer service has suffered a little; we now insist that people use the online site to order, except in special circumstances ("I don't have a computer" is no longer deemed special enough), and briefly toyed with the idea of replacing our voice mail message with 30 seconds of Chris laughing hysterically.

While on the subject of online shopping, I've been avoiding the hassles of stores and malls this year. Or at least, exchanging those hassles for the different ones provided by the Internet. Rather too many companies have realised that while a million monkeys banging away at typewriters may take some millenia to produce Shakespeare, they'll create an online shopping experience in no time at all. Certain large, three-letter acronymed companies (names kept secret until December 25th, for obvious reasons) prompt for input of data, then three screens later, gleefully inform you that you missed a field out. It's less shopping, than an online game of Snakes and Ladders.

Back at Trash City, we finally abandoned the late afternoon rush to the Post Office, in favour of an early-morning one. There are several benefits to this: not only is it quieter, you also get the advantage of Post Office employees who may occasionally smile, since they have not had their heads bitten off for eight hours straight. It always struck me as odd that those who "went postal" tended to shoot other employees rather than customers... [This week's useless fact: the term "going postal" originated after Patrick Sherrill, a part-time postman in Oklahoma, killed 14 people in the post office before taking his own life.]

On the other hand, you miss the 5pm lock-in; it was always amusing to be there when they lock the doors, and watch the 5:01 pm customers bouncing off like frustrated lemmings. They'd plead with the guardian to let them in, but he was relentless - awesome to watch, he could have become a bouncer at any swanky nightclub. "Sorry, mate, you're not coming in." Those of us inside chortle merrily away to ourselves, even though it is surely only a matter of time before a bad set of traffic lights condemns us to the same fate. Another reason to go early, perhaps.

But we cope, and meanwhile continue in the ceaseless battle to stop our icicle lights from falling off the roof, sending our offspring up there to apply ever more adhesive tape. For, after all, isn't that what Christmas is all about?


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