Retail Therapy

This morning, I woke up feeling an extra pound of exhaustion on me for no particular reason, unless that particular reason is life. I laid around, catching up on telly, before finally deciding to get up and get to work on the house. The problem was, I needed more caffeine.

I ran out to the store up the street, ready to start my productive Saturday, only to nearly curb my car because a woman in a tiny Ford somehow took up ALL THE SPACE! I knew everything would be fine with a sugar splurge and a mega dose of the c-stuff, but of course, when I walked up to the door, there was the world’s most infuriating sign. “CASH ONLY. Sorry for the inconvenience!” I made an audible harrumph that was supposed to somehow express how much I didn’t believe their apology and swung back into my car with probably an inappropriate level of anger.

As I had errands to run, I figured I’d just stay out and head to Target to pick up what I needed, treating myself with one or two items with that 5% RED CARD DISCOUNT, WHUDDUP!??!

I started by being “smart,” looking for winter-based work items I needed before I found a section of Marvel shirts and threw almost all of them in my cart. I slowly built a pyramid of more items in my cart, because more and more people started jumping in front of me, acting like massive suckages of human space. The longer I shopped, the more reasons the people around me (and their slow movements or rude cart placement or their screaming children or their bad manners or…) gave me to add another clearance item to my pile.

I started to feel guilty. I needed a pair of winter flats and hadn’t even made it to the shoes yet. I thought “Retail therapy isn’t even real! Stop what you’re doing and put all of this shit back. YOU WILL REGRET THIS DAY FOR ALL ETERNITY!!!!!” P.S. This only prompted me to put one item back.

I finally wound my way to the shoe aisle(s) and instantly found, like, three pairs of loafers I needed wanted. As I was walking further into the shoe tunnel and shopping guilt, a cute, old associate stopped me and asked me if I wanted to buy the pair of boots in his hand.

“They’re only $10,” he said.

“Ah, I’m here for flats. I already have enough boots. TOO many probably!”

“No such thing. You can never have too many shoes!” he said before wandering away to put them elsewhere.

I smiled to myself and kept looking at warm options for my toesies. I was thinking about how much he’d relieved the stress I’d had when he popped around the corner of the new aisle I was in.

“Good thing you didn’t want those boots. We don’t even sell them in our store! Some teenager brought them back to the wrong place!”

I made some poor retort–I was still feeling sorry for myself–as he walked up and inspected my cart.

“Oh, are you getting these? I saw someone just try them on. They’re nice.”

“Thank you!”

“I’m tellin’ you, I could just shop forever. My wife and I went to the Mall of America, you know, in Minnesota, and WOO BOY!”

I asked him how long he stayed.

“A WEEK!” He laughed. “Well, at least it felt like one. It was like a vacation! I’m tellin’ you, I could outshop any woman. I love picking out women’s clothes, even china. My wife told me she’d never met a man that had gone shopping for china.”


He laughed, and it felt good. I was finally starting to feel genuinely enriched by our conversation.

“I truly believe you can never do too much shopping,” he added.

“I’m right there with you! Maybe to a detriment.”

“Well, it can really be therapeutic, too,” he said as he smiled knowingly and walked off.

This jolly customer service man had somehow known what I needed to hear. For a second, I wanted to chase him down and ask him the winning lotto numbers for this week. Instead, though, I let him disappear to hopefully help another customer with his comforting word.

I had felt so angry, not only due to the events of the day, but mounting frustration from months of tiny things snowballing. He reminded me that retail therapy really can be just that sometimes: therapy. While there’s a (very) thin border between shopaholism and the former, it’s okay to just spend on yourself sometimes.

So I stopped feeling guilty and added everything I wanted to my cart. And you know what? I left feeling so much lighter and perhaps a bit rejuvenated. To boot, I actually came home with more than a few functional items. I even cleaned the house like I’d intended.

What’s your go-to therapy on a bad day?



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