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Online shopping for holidays goes .500 for writer

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My Views

By Stephen Thomas

 Could there be anything worse for a cynical journalist than Christmas shopping?

There could be. This year I took my first dabble into the world of online Christmas shopping.

I’m sure some of you truly feel online shopping is the way to go, much more convenient than the alternative. Many others would rather have the hands-on gift-purchasing experience.

One would think that shopping in a store, with rude customers hoarding Christmas specials, customers sneezing without covering, kids playing with toys in the aisles and employees with no basic knowledge of the products, not to mention standing in a long checkout line because a cashier, despite a price being listed on the box, couldn’t add it to the total because the scanner wouldn’t beep it in, would make any cynical journalist lean toward the online approach.

But online shopping and cynicism also make strange bedfellows. There’s always the constant paranoid threat of a credit card number being stolen, not to mention entire identity theft.

There’s also making a purchase for something you can only see a photo of, not something you can check firsthand and then take home immediately if you decide to purchase it.

I went the online route for the first time this year, involving two Christmas gifts. 

One was a t-shirt for my nephew, one that I had to order online because I could not find one like it in local stores.

I found an online store, one I had never heard of, but cynical journalists wouldn’t pay just anybody (we don’t have the money for that). I checked enough to realize the company appeared credible. From there I prayed a lot.

After a confirmation email telling me the purchase went through, all I had to do was watch my mailbox.

A week from Christmas and no shirt. I was a bit antsy, but it’s Christmastime and people are busy. I remained mostly patient.

A few days away, and no shirt. Plus the credit card company called to confirm it was me that made the purchase.

Now nervous, I emailed the company, receiving a fairly quick reply telling me all was well.

Christmas Eve, no shirt. Sure, some people were lucky for any gifts on Christmas, I know this. The true spirit of the season greatly outweighed a simple shirt. And my nephew would receive other gifts. He would understand.

After attending church and visiting relatives, my miniscule Christmas miracle was waiting in my mailbox.

My nephew loved it. The purchase was worth it, even with the sweat of anticipation drenched all over it.

My other purchase was helping with a new television that was purchased on Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving.

The television was a prime Christmas gift for two kids. A few days before Christmas, the company informed us that the shipment was delayed until January.

Creativity saved the day, with a certificate including a picture of the television, letting the kids know what was coming. That appeased them for the moment.

After New Year’s, another message from the company informed that the television would not be shipped until March. When the company was contacted about the situation, they informed us that the television in question had actually been discontinued.

The cynical journalist doesn’t know if that information would’ve been shared in March or if a July date would then be offered. But the order was immediately terminated. They didn’t even offer anything in return for the trouble.

So here I am, in a new year, the Twelve Days of Christmas come and gone, everyone back into the rhythm of school and work weeks, and I still have to go to the store and buy a big Christmas gift. And I owe it all to Internet shopping and Cyber Monday.

As my Grandma would say, with her eyes twinkling and her rye smile, “What would we ever do without computers?”

For one thing, I wouldn’t have spell check. I would’ve just told Bullitt County that Grandma would say, “What would we ever do without commuters."