Lately, my doorbell seems to chime like the church bells which go off without fail every hour. It's a succession of deliveries, a nod to the overzealous online shopping mode that I'm in right now. In fact, I know most of the courier drivers from various companies by sight. Even the grumpiest fella has gotten to know me well enough to crack a few jokes. Ahh....success, at last. We've finally settled into a comfortable relationship where he wouldn't chew my head off for not being at home to sign for the package.
Despite its imbecilic bureaucratic bullshit that most of us have to endure, the U.K is an online shopping haven. I don't have to reiterate how much I hate malls, ESPECIALLY outlet malls. It's like being imprisoned in a building without a stitch of natural sunlight, three counties away so you can't escape easily (ingenious marketing ploy).
Working from home has its pros and cons. Let's start with the negative. My butt has taken root (literally) after being perched on the same chair for hours on end. The pros? I can wear anything I fancy and I don't have to leave my home when I need to get some shopping done. Two weeks ago, I went into the newly opened and lavishly furnished J.Crew on Sloane Street. A chirpy sales assistant greeted me at the door and asked if I needed help.
Me: "Sure. I'm looking for a particular sweatshirt."
Her: "Which one?"
A spiel about its likeness ensued.
Her: "No idea....." Looking perplexed. "We've got sooooo many sweatshirts!"
Me: "In that case, point me in the right direction"
Her: "They're everywhere......!! You just have to find them"
So off I went.....on a treasure hunt. All the customers were left to our own devices while the sales staff gossiped. Cost of this exercise? 30 minutes that I'll never get back. I went home and logged onto to their website. I went through the entire new autumn/winter collection, picked out what I wanted, checked out and paid in under 10 minutes. No smirking, sneering, chirpy and useless sales staff to deal with.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not a 100% advocate for online shopping. I still like to touch the fabric, try on the clothes, explore the merchandise, chat with competent sales staff.......when I have the time to do so. When online shopping has been set up to run like clockwork - let's take Zara and Uniqlo (they're both ridiculously efficient) as great examples, spending an hour trying to locate a specific garment and queueing up to get into the fitting room or pay seems like a waste of time. Not to mention having to catch public transportation just to get there and back. Since I have such a low pain threshold for shopping, I often ended up shelling out more money "resting" at cafés in between spurts of activity.
I don't always get it right. This time around, I've had to return nearly 80% of my purchases. Thankfully, I've got the post office literally in my backyard so dropping the packages off isn't a problem. I've calculated I've spent far less time clicking on websites than trudging from one store to the next and all that jazz associated with buying clothes.
Despite being a self proclaimed foodie, let me tell you.....online grocery shopping is THE best invention EVER. I remember the days of wasting an entire Saturday just flitting from store to store when I was living in Auckland (New Zealand). Now? My fingers do a 10 minute exercise on the keyboard and I'm done for the week. No more heavy lifting (other than the occasional top ups) or buying tons of unnecessary (but very tasty) junk food on "special".
Sure, I've experienced a few duds but the pros outweigh the cons for now. What about you?