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Surviving the Holidays

Hello loyal (and even not-so-loyal) readers, "Great" Scott here.  This little piece is not wrestling related, but it is related to something I know a great deal about—surviving the holidays.  We're far past Labor Day, when stores are putting up Christmas decorations these days, so it's actually, sort of, the holiday season.  Because I'm a big fan of helping my fellow man (and woman), I'm going to provide you with some invaluable information that will make your [INSERT THE HOLIDAY YOU CELEBRATE HERE] more [INSERT A SYNONYM FOR HAPPY HERE].


Why Me?

Before I get started, let me tell you why I'm qualified to provide this information. To start, I worked in the customer service field for 14 years.  I worked in a store for the south's largest grocery chain for over six years as I worked my way through high school and college.  When I graduated from college with my English degree, I spent the next eight years designing training for the same grocery store chain.  Much of the training I designed revolved around customer service.  I did mounds and mounds of research about what makes customers tick and what makes customer service-based businesses successful.  While I no longer work for that company, I still view every trip to a store, restaurant, movie theater, or entertainment venue as a customer service opportunity.  It also helps that I live near Disney World, which, once upon a time, was the pinnacle of good customer service.  (The economy has taken a bit of a toll on WDW's customer service these days.)  If that doesn't qualify me in your eyes, that's tough crackers, because I'm going to continue typing away.  Just realize that I'm only trying to use my experience to help you out.  If you don't want my help, you can pop your cynical, distrustful ass over to YouTube and watch people getting trampled during Black Friday, right here.

If you're still around, sit yourself in a comfortable chair, grab yourself some delicious holiday cookies (or those delicious Little Debbie's Christmas tree snacks) and some milk, and prepare to be EDUCATED.


Here's What to Do

I was originally going to write this column as a guide, splitting it into sections that corresponded to each "part" of the holidays.  I decided that in today's ADD-addled society that a non-bulleted list approach probably wouldn't fly, so that's what I'm going to do.

         First, you need to understand the "Customer-Clerk Continuum."  This concept can be easily explained by the diagram on the right.  Simply put, you piss of the person serving you at a store or restaurant and they typically take it out on the next customer.  This becomes a never-ending cycle of people pissing people off during the holidays.  Just realize that no matter how pissed of you are, the pimply-faced teenager at the cash register most likely didn't have anything to do with it.

         Realize that the person you're bitching at most likely has nothing to do with the thing you're bitching them out about.  Staying with the theme of treating customer service folks properly, try to remember that the cashier or the bagger most likely had nothing to do with the price of milk or the lack of cranberry sauce on the store shelf.  If Wal-Mart doesn't have that "Vote for Pedro" shirt you're looking for, yelling at the woman stocking shoes probably won't do you any good.  Try to keep your calm and let the adversity roll off your back.

         Keep in mind that waiting until Christmas Eve to shop is a pretty stupid idea.  In my six years working in a grocery store, it would absolutely amaze me how angry people would get because they would stroll in at around an hour before closing time on Christmas Eve and there weren't any fresh green beans left.  Hmmmm….let me think about that, genius.  Seriously, procrastinating is bad enough without doing so during the holidays.  Try to get everything done early so you can actually enjoy the holidays.

         Remember, the crowds are bad, but YOU'RE PART OF THE CROWD!
It cracks me up when people complain about crowds at the mall.  Quick question: Where are you right now?  You need to realize that physical shopping places are going to be crowded when you visit them during the holidays.  Complaining about the situation won't do you any good…unless you're trying to look like a douche bag, in which case you'll succeed.

         Have a plan.  I admit; I enjoy Christmas shopping.  I follow my own rules and realize that it will be challenging.  However, I don't really enjoy shopping, in general.  I also don't enjoy wasting time.  It's bad enough to walk through a crowded mall once, much less two or three times.  I write down the stuff I need to buy and where I need to get it, and then I head immediately to a mall directory.  I make sure that I can streamline the process as much as possible.

         Have a plan, Part II.  Knowing where you're going and how you're going to get there is only half the battle.  Time management is also important.  Don't give yourself 30 minutes to get all of your shopping done if you're going to the local Super-Mega-Mall.  I like to get to the mall about 15 to 30 minutes after it opens and give myself three or four hours to shop.  I plan to do lunch in or around the mall (11:00 A.M. is usually a good time) and I don't plan anything afterwards.  Again, don't bitch if you're stuck in traffic and you only have 30 minutes to shop and you have 100 things more to do.  Hey, dumbass, IT'S YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT!  Sure, most drivers are still idiots, but you're right out there with them.

         Have a plan, Part III. (Last one, I promise.)   I'm married to a woman who isn't exactly super-easy to shop for.  So, to remedy the problem, I find a female co-worker or friend to help me shop.  This provides several benefits:  It's super-helpful when trying to find stupid femme music like Celine Dion or stupid femme movies like Steel Magnolias.  I could never find this crap on my own.  Another benefit is that you don't look like a super creep when you're by yourself in stores like Victoria Secret.  Third, you can run styles and scents by women.  I'm proud to say that I know nothing about women's shoes, jewelry, or purses…a second female opinion always helps.  I realize that some of you might think that a female clerk would be just as helpful and wouldn't threaten my marriage.  Well, first of all, female clerks have one goal: to sell stuff.  They're going to recommend what's expensive, not what's best for my wife.  Second, my wife realizes that I'm not going to run off with my shopping helper, and she's going to get better gifts out of the deal.  Lastly, shopping is always a little easier with someone with you...especially when it comes to tackling people to get the last Tickle Me Elmo doll.

         Don't be a dick when it comes to gifts.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves.  There are a few basic rules when it comes to buying gifts.

         It's not necessarily the price.  People think that when I complain about gifts that I'm complaining about the price of the gift.  No, stupid, I'm complaining about the quality and the thought put into the gift.  Don't buy me a coffee mug set if I don't drink coffee.  Never buy ANYONE the crap they sell in the "random crap" section at Sears or JC Penney's (travel flashlights, small umbrellas, calculators, or oversized remote controls).  I would rather receive a dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies that cost about $2.00 to make than receive a $30 bible that I'm probably never going to read. (Note to God: Sorry.)

         Don't be self-serving.  Seriously, if you're considering buying someone a road, star, whale, tree, or a child in Sri Lanka, DON'T!  Also, don't donate money to a charity in my name.  If I want to donate money to some charity, I'll do it myself.  Again, it's not a matter of cost…you know damn well you're doing this to make everyone think you're some world-saving crusader.

         Don't re-gift.  Seriously, is there anything more dick-ish than giving someone one of your old gifts?  My God, what a crappy practice.  I would never want someone else's unwanted crap; I would never even consider giving someone else my unwanted crap.

         In most cases, gift cards are a cop out.  Again, I would rather get a gift at half the price and not have to go back out to shop.  Giving a gift should not force the gift receiver to do any work.  Obviously, there are some people who just looooooove to shop, and are complete jackasses when it comes to giving any information about what they want.  Those people can receive gift cards.  My mind is pretty much an open book. 

         Creativity doesn't have to cost a lot.  I like to give gifts.  My wife gives me hell because I like to give gifts to people who don't always deserve them.  One solution to limiting the money you spend is to be creative.  One way is to create "night out" basket or bags for people.  Buy a good movie or two, some popcorn and candy, and a gift basket, and you have a pretty good gift.  You can also get someone a book they want and package it with a coffee mug and some of their favorite coffee.  These gifts aren't expensive, but show that at least you give a semi-crap about a person.

         For the love of God…DON'T DO A WHITE ELEPHANT GAME!!!  I swear; the idea of a white elephant game was an idea conceived by the KKK, Nazis, or Satan himself.  If you don't know what the white elephant game is, let me provide a brief explanation.  A bunch of people buy equally-priced presents (usually from $10-$20) and put them in a "pot."  Everyone draws a number and can either take a present from the pot or steal one of the previous picker's presents.  Essentially, it's an excuse to treat other people like crap during the holidays.  Why? Because there's always someone who goes over the spending limit and buys something good and there are always a few people who buy crap like Clay Aiken CDs or cheese logs.  The good presents get stolen a bunch (unless the person running the game puts a limit on stealing) and some people end up with horrible stuff…one year, I ended up with a woman's sweater…and I'm a fat, hairy guy.  I realize I'm not going to get a plasma TV out of this, but I can't think of one good thing about this stupid tradition.  White elephant games SUCK!

         Spread some joy…no matter how hard it is.  No matter what you're doing during the holidays, be it shopping, eating, parking, driving, or returning, try to be nice.  I know this seems like common sense, but just take a second before you think of unloading on someone who cuts you off in traffic or takes the last can of gravy on the shelf.  After a day of shopping, sit down with a Christmas movie (obviously, Christmas Story is a personal favorite) and relax.  Spend time with family and friends and realize that shopping is a necessary part of the holidays…unless you're a heartless bastard.

         Give when you can.  It's not a bad deal: be an a**hole 11 months of the year, but try to do some good the other 30 days.  Donate some food to a local charity; be nice to a clerk or waiter; give some money to those poor bedraggled bastards that have to ring the bells in the freezing cold; help someone put up some lights; bring cookies in to work.  Do something to make someone's day a little brighter. 



That's about it.  If I can save one of you a few minutes of frustration this holiday season, I'll have done my job.  Follow my rules and you'll find that your heart may just grow three sizes…and you may even get to carve the roast beast!


Happy holidays from "Great" Scott!


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November 2006


by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).