At some point in the next few weeks, you’ll probably head out in the masses of Christmas shoppers. You’ll brave the lines, battle the elements, and sit in the traffic—all to find that perfect gift.
While you’re out there in the crowd, you’ll encounter a wide variety of Christmas shoppers—some of them are normal, but most of them are, well, interesting. To help you identify your fellow shoppers, we’ve created this handy guide.
It’s like a safari guidebook to help you identify wild, carnivorous animals. Except Christmas shopping is only slightly less adventurous than a safari, and most of these shoppers probably will not eat you.
But, still, you need to be prepared. So watch out for these folks:
The “Oh, Crap!” Shopper: This is the guy that, on Christmas Eve, suddenly realizes he didn’t buy his wife a present and forgot to order the Barbie Ice Cream Shop Accessory Kit for his daughter. You’ll be able to spot the “Oh Crap!” Shopper by his confused expression and his frantic pace. Give him room. He’s desperate.
Miss November: This shopper is way ahead of the game. She’s finished shopping for and wrapping all her gifts before most people wake up on the morning of Black Friday. You probably won’t see Miss November unless you are also a November shopper. If you happen to spot her among the masses, don’t give her a disgusted look. Ask her for shopping advice.
The Repeat Offender: This is the guy who makes seven trips to the mall in two weeks because he keeps forgetting stuff. He gets mom and dad a gift, but forgets the siblings. Gets the siblings a gift, then forgets his girlfriend. Gets his girlfriend a gift, then forgets his grandmother. This continues until, finally, the Repeat Offender secures presents for everyone—without wrapping paper to put them in.
The Online Shopper: The Online Shopper is the Loch Ness monster of the Christmas shopping world. He’s a rarely seen, reclusive being who prefers the dim light of the computer screen to the shine and sparkle of the mall. Rumor has it that, when he lost internet service for two weeks in December 2009, the Online Shopper ventured out to a mall once. The smothering smell of department store perfume was just too much, and he never returned.
The Scattershot : Ah, the Scattershot. He’s like a puppy in a ball factory. He has no plan and is easily swayed by everything glittery and shiny. Can you relate to his thought process? Oh, nice ceramic Santa! Wife will love that. Wow, look at that flower vase! Wife will love that. Oh my! Beautiful watch there. Wife will love that. The kids! What about the kids? Oh dear, there’s Lightning McQueen and there’s Elmo and there’s Spiderman and there’s that annoying purple dinosaur. I’ll take ’em all!
Mr. Plastic: No, he’s not called Mr. Plastic because of his love of credit cards. Mr. Plastic got his well-earned nickname because of his love of the gift card. He hangs out at the front of stores next to the cash registers where all the colorful gift cards are located. He once single-handedly bought 27 $5 gift cards for all of his co-workers, family and friends … in five minutes.
The Deal Finder: Right now, at this very moment, the Deal Finder is hunched over a computer screen taking elaborate notes about the 10 best prices on a Spiderman windbreaker for his son. With a notebook (or smart phone) full of store addresses, product numbers and coupons, the Deal Finder goes from planning mode to buying mode in 3.7 seconds. If you blink, you’ll miss him briskly walking past you with purpose and laser-like focus. Follow him around, if you dare, and you might find a good deal yourself! Unless there’s only one of his sought-after items left on the shelf. Then, you best get out of his way.
The Mall Rat: Unlike actual rats, mall rats don’t hide in moist, dark areas. The Mall Rat’s natural habitat is the lighted open areas of the mall’s department store. You’ll see them there every weekend, and on many weeknights, pacing up and down each aisle, eyeing pairs of jeans, a blender and maybe a tie or two. The Mall Rat looks for any excuse to spend more time than reasonable at the mall. Every staff member in the candle store knows the Mall Rat by her first name, and she once spent four hours in one of those fancy massage chairs before an employee kicked her out of the store.
The Road Rager: With each breath he takes, the Road Rager sucks a little more joy out of the Christmas season. If the Grinch had driven a Toyota Corolla, he would’ve been the Road Rager. You might see him in the parking lot, trying to cut off every elderly driver he can find. Once he gets in the mall, he’s the guy who tries to cut in line at every opportunity and takes 10 chicken nuggets from the sample plate in the food court. If the Road Rager is with his family, he might be the one sitting on the bench like a protective Doberman, guarding the bags that his merry shopping companions left with him.
The Heroic Mom: This Christmas shopper can be found on weekdays, with anywhere from one to six small children in tow. She is the Michael Jordan of Christmas shoppers, the elite of the elite. She can answer a cell phone, talk to a store clerk, feed an 8-month-old, and discipline a 6-year-old without breaking a sweat. She has been known to purchase gifts, cards and wrapping paper for 16 family members in 45 minutes while reading the Christmas story to her six kids. If someone ever creates a Christmas shopper hall of fame, the Heroic Mom would be a charter member.
What type of shopper do you see most often? Or, dare we ask, are you one of these shoppers?