Common Courtesy, the Holidays, and the Search for a Light Bulb

Every two weeks when I get the email reminder when I need to have my blog post in, I start wondering what I’ll write about this time. Well, that’s easy. All I have to do is leave the house and my blogs are dumped in my lap.

Let me start off by saying I am not a “Christmas” person. My mother has called me Grinch on many an occasion, and I struggle every year to make sure I don’t rub my attitude toward the whole Christmas/Holiday season off on my daughter. I take her out to do a donation to the Angel Tree, and I always give a little extra to the food bank. To me, this is what Christmas should be.

It’s not that I dislike Christmas. I grew up in a poor Catholic family, so Christmas was about the religious aspects, not the gift buying. Not a typo there, I said gift buying. I feel like the true meaning of Christmas (not just the religious part because I’m not preacher) is lost on a majority of the population who are out in the stores right now. Why do you put yourself through the entire gift buying process when it’s stressful and you hate it? I hear my friends grumbling about “I still have gifts to buy for so and so and so.” Why? What will happen if you don’t buy them a gift?

I only buy gifts for the people in my household and my mother, and my gift buying is usually finished by Halloween. Everyone else in my life gets baked goods because I like baking, and grocery stores are safer than department stores, and frankly, cookies and fudge are from my heart; a sweater is not! For almost everything else, I shop online from the comfort of my desk, where I spend most of my time anyway. is very much my friend!

I do not like shopping in stores in December. If I’m in a store in December, I have a reason for being there, like buying groceries, or in today’s case, looking for a – insert expletive here – little 12 volt, 10 watt light bulb for my daughter’s fiber optic Christmas tree.

I figured out today why I hate stores in December. People are so – insert another expletive – rude!

I did not particularly want to go in search of this little light bulb, which, if I remember correctly, burned out before the end of last year’s holiday season and I promised to replace. My daughter tried putting up the tree this weekend, and it didn’t work. *sigh* So, I head out. I was in a really good mood before I left the house, too.

First stop, the hardware store. Not sure what the attitudes were there. I doubt the men were Christmas shopping, and I thought guys liked hardware stores, so they should be in a good mood, right? But after the first one nearly runs me down in the parking lot with his monster F-250, another one who is just steps in front of me, opens the door, looks right at me, walks through, and lets the door swing shut behind him. Okay, whoa. Are you kidding me? He was definitely old enough to know better than to let the door swing shut on a woman. I gave him a good glare while I waited to speak to someone in customer service, but chances are he was clueless. Luckily, the guy behind the counter was very helpful (even though they didn’t have the light bulb).

Okay, shake it off. No problem. One bad, stinking apple, that’s all. I head on over to the dollar store. We buy our halogen light bulbs for the lamp in the living room there. Again, the cashier was in a good mood, but the customers were just… They did not look happy, they all glared, and a woman cuts in front of me in line (only one line open) and the guy behind me bumped into me three times and didn’t bother to say he was sorry even once. Seriously? Are you that dense? I didn’t even bother to glare that time, sure the guy didn’t have enough brain cells to figure out I don’t appreciate an elbow in my back. And jeez! Ever heard of personal space? Why do people in lines stand so close together. I do not wish to feel your breath anywhere on my body.

Still no light bulb, but I got a couple other items I needed for home. Now, horrors of horrors – at least in my mind – Walmart in December. 10am, and the parking lot is full. Ugh. Well, need my exercise today. Park at far end of parking lot and hike in, head first to the Holiday Decoration section. The stupid bulb is from a stupid Christmas tree I bought at Walmart two years ago, right?

Okay, we got to the rude worker here. Figured it was coming sometime after what I’d already been through. Still trying to refuse to let all these people get me pissy. I’d really been in a good mood when I left home just an hour before!

Find woman in blue vest talking on cell phone in the Christmas Decoration area. She puts the phone away when I stand there and stare at her, but she was definitely frowning at me. I asked if she knew this section – I shop at Walmart often enough to know if they don’t work in a particular section, they probably don’t have a clue what’s in it. She said yes, and I ask about the light bulbs. Swear to God, she sneered at me. “We don’t have those.”

Needless to say, I didn’t really believe her, and wandered around the area just to make sure she was lying because I interrupted her phone call. She happened to have been right. They sold the same tree I bought 2 years ago, but no spare, stupid – another expletive – light bulb.

I found an empty hook with the right specs on it in the hardware section of Walmart. Apparently everyone else who owns the damn trees have blown light bulbs this year, too.
Again, everyone, women mostly, shopping in Walmart look ticked off and haggared. I had to walk past the toy section and the sporting goods to get to the hardware. Everyone looks like they’d rather be anywhere but where they were, and most have baskets heaping with boxes I can only assume are gifts. If gift shopping wears you out and makes you such a grouch, why are you doing this to yourself?

I run into McDonalds inside Walmart for coffee and a muffin, because I need fortification if I’m going to attempt Costco to pick up some photos, my final stop of the morning. The cashier didn’t want to put enough milk in my coffee – I really don’t like McDonalds coffee, but it was that or make yet an extra stop, which I seriously didn’t want to do – and I only like one kind of their muffins, and she was very put out that she had to go back into the kitchen to see if they had any more because I wasn’t buying anything if they didn’t have the kind I like. Why do you work customer service is you don’t want to serve (and possibly make happy) the customer???

Got my coffee, after needing more milk – twice – and muffin, and head to Costco.

Ohhhh boyyy. First, there’s the parking lot. I usually go park at the end of the lot so I don’t have to deal with it. But I’ve been moving furniture for three days, and I ache all over, and I got my daily hike at the Walmart lot. I drive up near the front of the building and actually found an empty spot. Not sure how it happened, but I was very happy!

I park, get out, and get the finger from a woman who looked the age of my mother. I don’t know why! There was no one waiting for that spot when I pulled in. Should I get in my car and move it for her? Hell no, she just flipped me off. I seriously can’t picture my mom ever doing that.

I don’t go to Costco often, so I decide to just do a quick walkthrough, see what’s there. The clothing section was filled with women, most scowling. The Christmas goody section, same thing. Lots of people on cell phones, sounding pissed off, yelling at small children. I get through, only buying a giant pack of AA batteries for very cheap (can never have enough of those in the house) and then get my pictures and get the heck out of there. I nearly get run down in the parking lot again, and then, when I pull out of my prime parking spot, I’m not even completely out of the spot before someone’s pulling in, glaring at me as if I’m a horrible person.


I’m done. I go home, get on, order the – bad bad word – light bulb (plus two extras) which I really should have done to start with, and now, I have to write my annual Christmas letter for our family and friends.

Now that my rant is done, I feel a little better.

Remember what this season is about…giving, caring, sharing, not being a total ass because you have five stores to hit today and thirty gifts to buy, and don’t forget Uncle Bob. Don’t speed through parking lots, don’t scowl all of the time, and jeez, Christmas is supposed to be fun. Only thing I’m worried about?

Wondering if I have enough cranberries for the turkey.

*grin* Try to have a happy and safe holiday season. Watch out for the parking lot speeders!

Anna Leigh


6 responses to “Common Courtesy, the Holidays, and the Search for a Light Bulb

  1. Tiz the Season! I agree. Way to much emphasis on gifts not enough on the true meaning of Christmas. Santas great for the kids but face it, Christmas is now an industry that hires many thousands of people each year. So, I guess we need to buck up and do our part. 🙂

    But I hear you and your not alone.


  2. It’s such an emotionally charged/financially challenging time of year and that’s been exacerbated by the current economic state. I’ve noticed people being a lot more grouchy/rude/stressed than ever before, and it bums me out, especially when they’re dragging unhappy children through the muck with them. (ALA the overtired mother hauling her 3 under sixes through the grocery store at 5 p.m. yesterday snapping “Walk faster, I have thirty things to do tonight.”) Honestly, I wanted to stop and give all four of them a hug. But I didn’t think that would go over too well. 🙂

    Yes, holiday jobs are good. But that aside, I think the gross commercial push is exactly that. Gross.

  3. Great article, Anna, and I have one of those lightbulbs, I can send it to you!
    I do love the season, and it’s only because I choose not to go insane over it. I love it for being with family, the lights, the goodwill (except in shopping malls), and overall, I’m not opposed to giving gifts so long as they mean something, and it’s not just a rote gesture. Gifts can be simple and inexpensive.

    It really should be a happy time – one for reflection and looking forward to being with those we love. Shutting out the external ‘noise’ of stores, stressed shoppers, and the hype of gift-giving will go a long way to making it more enjoyable.


  4. I don’t understand people at this time of year. (Ok, that’s not true, I don’t understand people. Period.) I hate shopping, I have social anxiety, and stupid people make me bonkers, yet I do my very best to smile and be polite and upbeat whenever I’m out and about. Why is that such a difficult thing for so many people?

  5. I’m sure most of you have heard the story of the WalMart shopper who brought a can of pepper spray with her and dosed everyone in her way. If you haven’t, that was right after Thanksgiving this year. Thanksgiving, Christmas, pepper spray. The three don’t go together,

    Unfortunately, behavior like this has become typical—a sign of our times. We are less kind, less caring, a ruder, harsher people over all and our behavior symptomatic of these difficult times and the confrontational politics governing our lands. For some odd reason, the holidays which are supposed to foster love, thanks and giving bring out the worst in us. I hope things improve, but sad to say, I see no prospect. * sigh *

  6. Just ran to the mall to pick my daughter up. She happens to love mall shopping (I do not). It was definitely even worse today than mid week when I was looking for the light bulb. I am officially announcing I will not enter another store except the grocery store (and probably either early morning or right before they close) until Christmas. *grin* THAT makes me happy.

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