Part One: Women
There's a rule. Don't go to Yarn Expressions on one of their variable-percentage sale days. (Draw a ticket to determine your discount. Most people get 20% off, a few people get more, one person gets 75% off.) Sure, the flyers are lovely, and the possibility of drawing one of the lucky tickets is enticing, but the actual experience of trying to make a purchase at the store on sale day can only be described as craptastic.
Think you're the only knitter in northeast Alabama? Think again, bucko, because every grandmother with a knitting fetish gets the little announcement postcards and they all show up, garbage bags in hand, ready to loot and kill at the slightest provocation.
Think marauding herds of knitting grandmothers, all with the scent of Sale Yarn in their nostrils, stalking the perfect skein. God help you if you get in their way.
Did I mention the checkout line?
One person. One keyboard. One skein of yarn, laboriously keyed in at a time. One machine to process credit card orders. Large numbers of women standing around with garbage bags full of purchases, many of them filled with multiple hundreds of dollars worth of yarn.
You don't want to know how long the wait was in the checkout line.
During the last sale day, I was out of town. I asked Jeff to pick up one skein of yarn for me. The women in the store took pity on him, because he was out shopping for his wife, and was therefore a good husband, and he only needed to buy one skein so why didn't they just let him through to the front of the line?
Must be nice. Me, I had three skeins of sock yarn and I stood there for an hour before I looked at my purchases and had a sudden bout of sanity.
I was standing in line for an hour to save maybe four bucks. Judging from my place in line, I would be in line for at least another forty-five minutes before I'd get a chance to have my purchases rung up. I really didn't need any more yarn, and I really wasn't sure this yarn was worth the wait.
I put the yarn back up on the shelf, crumpled up the 20%-off ticket I'd gotten, and went home, hoping that when it came time for my next yarn purchase, I wouldn't hate myself for not having used the sale.
When I left, women were clutching garbage bags full of yarn and waiting patiently. Me, I'm not exactly the patient type. I went home, had a sandwich, and got in my gym time. I figured it was a better usage of my afternoon.
* * * * *
Part Two: Men
We sneaked off for our usual Sunday lunch together, Jeff and I, ending up at Firehouse Subs. He had his sub with a side of fully-leaded caffeinated beverage; I had mine with a healthy topping of habanero-pepper sauce.
Across the parking lot I could see the sign for Dick's Sporting Goods, my usual resource for sports-ish stuff. I'm still tossing around the idea of picking up a pair of hikingish shoes for the time I spend in Colorado and Utah, and I wanted to see what they had. Can't hurt to look, right?
I wheedled Jeff into making a quick stop over there, so we drove the short distance and I wandered into the back of the store.
I stared for a moment to make sense of the shoe section's layout. Men's on the left, women's on the right. Ok, there's the men's hiking-shoe section … where are the women's shoes? I scanned section by section: walking, cross-training, running, basketball, but no hiking shoes.
I walked around for a minute or two before being flagged down by an employee.
"Can I help you?"
"Yeah. I'm looking for women's hiking shoes."
He began to walk toward one of the low shelves, and picked up a shoe. "This," he said, "is all we have."
"Do you people think that women just don't hike?"
"This is all we have."
A wall of men's hiking boots, and two pair for women. I think I was supposed to be consoled by the number of women's swimsuits they had for sale, though. If that store's to be believed, that's what women are supposed to do.
Jeff, on the way out: "Well, what did you expect from a store named Dick's?"
I'm not certain I'm consoled.