Last Minute Shopping

That was lovely.

Posted by Patty at December 23, 2009 8:14 PM

God bless you Gerard, and Merry Christmas.

Posted by teresa at December 23, 2009 8:28 PM

Thanks, I needed that too! May God bless you and your family and have a Merry Christmas.

Posted by retriever at December 24, 2009 3:48 AM

There's an analogy for this which I learned when I was in Russian language classes.

It's called the "Russian soup line".

You get in line and wait.

You pay for your soup.

The cashier hands you a ticket.

You get in another line, and wait.

You hand your ticket to another worker.

You get a bowl from that worker.

You get in another line.

You hand your bowl to yet another worker.

He has to go from your end of the serving line all the way to the other end of the line to ladle out your bowl of soup.

He then has to go back down the serving line to where your are to hand you your bowl of, by this time, cooler soup.

The problem of a spoon is still at this point, unresolved.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,


Posted by WWWebb at December 24, 2009 7:28 AM

Exactly. This year we are, whether by economic necessity or spiritual progress, committing our Christmas season to family, friends, and food, with minimal gift exchange, as we all realize the gifts we have and how we can better share with those in need.

And Barnes and Noble are evil, a place to be avoided at all costs. They combine the crassest commercialism with staffs who seem to think they work in the local, multicultural postmodernist vegan progressive disdainful university faculty hangout bookstore.

Posted by Dan D at December 24, 2009 8:23 AM

As a current Barnes and Noble employee (who leaves for work in a little under two hours, dreading what shall await me at my "Information" desk today) I appreciate your attitude regarding the nature of this season.

I would like to point out, however, that on the rare occasion we break with "code" and say, "Oh, yes, Aristotle... he's over in the first Philosophy bay, under 'A'..." and give the customer the freedom to find said Aristotle on their own, inevitably, two minutes later that same customer is back at my Info desk. "I can't find it" they lament. "It must not be there. You really have nothing, nothing by Aristotle?"

At this point they have waited in line to ask me the same question not once, but twice. I then go through the proper hand holding requirements and take them over to said Philosophy section where, inevitably, said Aristotle is there, in abundance, slightly above or below one's line of sight, or the needed title shoved behind another book. Once in a while it works, the pointing and the hoping that it's where it's supposed to be. I know customers mind the hand holding and the walking, but really, we Info clerks don't mind. We like helping you find what you need and we try, we really do, to make it as painless as possible.

Especially around Christmas, because trust me... we want to get out of there as badly as you do.

Posted by Lauren the Info Desk Lady at December 24, 2009 8:35 AM

Merry Christmas Vanderleun San.

Posted by monkeyfan at December 24, 2009 8:38 AM

And lest anybody get the wrong impression regarding my "Russian soup line" post, for the record:

I *LIKE* Barnes and Noble.

I even let 'em send me email.


Posted by WWWebb at December 24, 2009 8:42 AM

Well done, Mr. Vanderleun. May your blessing multiply this year.

Posted by Homer at December 24, 2009 9:11 AM

Not to miss your point, but one observation I'd make is that at Borders, but NOT Barnes & Noble, the computer kiosks are accessible by the customers, so they can look up and find their own damn books (assuming they're shelved correctly, and recognizing that many will be indicated by the dread words "Likely in store"). Proving that one book chain at least has some idea of the value of democratizing access to information in the internet age, and one is stuck in 1992, with predictable results on December 23.

Posted by Mike G at December 24, 2009 9:11 AM

Re: Waiting in line at Barnes and Noble. As one famous person said, "I feel your pain."

May Christ's blessing be yours this Christmas and all the year through.

Posted by Sara (Pal2Pal) at December 24, 2009 11:46 AM

Merry Christmas, G. Tiny Tim had it going on; "God Bless US, Every One"

Posted by Carl H at December 24, 2009 11:49 AM

I understand that I'm being overly concrete, but there's actually a pretty famous org behavior article about this.

Two authors studied the relationship between cashier friendliness and sales at a chain of convenience stores, confident that it would be positive. In fact, it was negative. When they went and looked, the discovered that they were making the wrong implicit assumption about causation. At the stores with relatively low sales, customers and staff had time to talk. At the busiest stores, neither wanted to talk: customers and staff both wanted each transaction to be efficient and businesslike.

Posted by David Cohen at December 24, 2009 1:08 PM

Oh, that was perfect! I confess that I'm a little bummed on the timing, or I would have put it in this year's Carnival of Christmas... I'll have to bookmark you and ask you to send something in next year!

Thank you!

-- Kat

Posted by Kat at December 24, 2009 5:16 PM

Ahhhh, Gerard-san. You have received what Joshu Sasaki Roshi once told me during sanzen is "special keisaku."

Posted by GPE at December 24, 2009 5:33 PM

Wonderful post. Thank you.

Posted by Cowboy is a compliment at December 24, 2009 7:39 PM

"We want to get out of there as badly as you do."
--Lauren the Info Desk Lady

Your time seems to be coming. Walden Books just
announced that they too are going out of business.

The 'brick & mortor" trend continues.

Posted by Robert at December 27, 2009 1:35 PM

Brilliant. May we all receive the whacks we need this Christmas.

May yours be the best Christmas ever.

Posted by Julie at December 23, 2011 7:37 AM

Thanks Gerard I too needed that.

Posted by derekalexander at December 25, 2012 7:00 AM

This dood needs, NEEDS, to write a whole book full of short stories.

Not long stories because his vision is too intense and nobody could endure them.

They must be short, and they must be soon, very soon. srsly

Posted by ghostsniper at December 23, 2013 4:00 PM

You have it all wrong. Males prefer not to shop at all and certainly not just before Christmas. I do shop a little in the weeks after Christmas for some items.

Posted by GoneWithTheWind at December 23, 2013 4:06 PM

One: I must agree with ghostsniper.
Two: I read this aloud to my family, who loved it. I had trouble getting their attention, and told them the source was the same as the holy cookie story and they settled right down. You have a gift, thanks for sharing it.

Posted by Katherine at December 24, 2013 2:09 PM

Merry Christmas, and glad you're still here. :-)

I actually did do all my Christmas shopping last night in a half-hour period, covering a total of 37 people (kids, spouses/partners, grandkids, and a few others). Amazon email gift cards are my salvation.

Posted by Bfwebster at December 24, 2015 8:30 AM

Yep, it's just what I needed. The reason for the season.

Posted by Jimmy J. at December 24, 2015 11:08 AM

This has always been one of my favorite GVDL pieces -- thanks for posting it!

Posted by Dex Quire at December 24, 2015 12:59 PM

I always like this one, it sort of drags me along with it.

Starts smooth, familiar, and slowly builds, subtly, and then on line 42 it SNAPS, and quickly depressurizes and deflates like a balloon losing it's air and by the end you're back to normal again, but a little bit wiser, for now.

That's not a story, it's a ride.

Posted by ghostsniper at December 23, 2016 7:34 AM