Suggested Audio Jukebox:
 Goblin Dawn of The Dead
 Christopher Young Drag Me To Hell
Keeper is not what you would call a natural shopper. I take exception to spending hours upon hours meandering round a stuffy centre aimlessly and rifling through wares searching for that elusive bargain. It’s a soul-destroying pursuit, capable of wearing down the patience of a Trappist monk, and ten years running a busy store within one of the largest shopping centers in Europe really rammed that particular point home. As a result of my protracted stint, I seldom ever go shopping. Perhaps it also has to do with the fact that I currently couldn’t even afford a Taco Bell. No, it’s more than that, my displeasure runs deep. Allow me to elaborate.
Shoppers are such a loathsome breed you see. They’re single-minded, lazy, ignorant, petty, impatient, and quite often downright obnoxious. It’s as though ordinary pleasantries don’t apply when shopping; such contempt is shown to those on the other side of the counter as retail isn’t considered a worthy profession thus everyone subscribing is clearly a loser to some people. A judgement is formed with no real insight and all niceties go directly out the window at that point.
Wailing infants are reluctantly fastened to their buggies as they’re chaperoned from one place to the next; slowly whittling down that last nerve of everyone within earshot. Toddlers are often cited as one of mall’s worst offenders although I prefer to spare a thought for the lil’ nippers who are wheeled aside in every other shop, facing a blank wall while the scouring for deals commences. Poor little bastards. They should be out collecting conkers and fashioning worm casseroles with a trowel and instead they’re harnessed into their rickety chariots and left wide open to the elements. It’s no small wonder they spit out their dummies.
When I have needed to salvage goods I have planned it beforehand meticulously. I live a mere train ride from London and make an annual habit of taking a trip there to search for rarities. However, I have the whole process mapped out in my head way in advance. This includes deducing all shortest routes and running said spree with military precision. It works, with no undesired co-pilots, it becomes a cinch weaving in and out of the lobotomized shufflers and towards my next destination. Of course, I still have to battle the allure of window dressing, but I find tunnel vision helps in such circumstances. Every now and then, I’ll stop to admire an undressed mannequin, but never once have they turned out to be Kim Cattrall. I live in hope.
Once inside my store of choice the heat is invariably off. Poking around for discarded relics is an activity I could practice for periods easily in excess of an hour as the joy of locating the holy grail offers all the encouragement needed to press on. And then…when all is appearing lost…is when it happens. One mint condition copy of a classic old movie I forgot even existed, perched within the vaults just begging to be found. MINE!!! I have never been one of those shoppers who procrastinates; always have known my mind and rarely suffer that pathetic feeling that I should’ve just bought it when I had chance. Once I have that piece of paradise in my clutches I would rather be fed into a cement mixer than relinquish my grasp.
I also take great comfort in the little nuances of fellow shoppers. In the real dingy backstreet vinyl stores it is an unspoken rule that you have to lightly sway to whatever audio had been selected to accompany your visit. Knees bend and heads bop so as to appear inconspicuous at all times. The reason for this is unspoken code. Invariably the staff are pretty well versed or, at least, believe themselves wise and frown upon any foolish soul brave enough to enter their establishment without the correct supply of geek chic and useless pop trivia. Should you be unfortunate enough to walk into an independently run store, then expect to be ridiculed either openly or just after you make your purchase. I know this as there was a paraplegic guy who came into my store bi-weekly and possessed a real doozy of a ‘tache. His nickname was Wheels Ferrell. No offense meant but you have to do something to make your shift go faster.
Said clerks often consist of haggard, acne-ravaged teens with greasy long hair and beady little eyes like malignant marbles. They may have been pounded to within an inch of their lives right through secondary school but their employment has provided the exclusive opportunity for reinvention. Yes they had a tendency to be smarmy and wear thin-lipped grins like taut rubber bands but I say good luck to them. Self-esteem isn’t always handed on a plate so if I have to endure some bozo proclaiming that Carpenter’s The Thing was totally over-rated then so be it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I have never been one of these people to pull people up where unnecessary.
I do take exception to the real ignorant bastards however and there are many. The snotty shits who won’t even share with you a smile or show the vaguest interest in making yours a comfortable transaction. Sometimes they will remain in conversation with their co-worker right through the process with not so much as the time of day given to the consumer. It’s a two-way thing, a stand-off between us and them. Clerks despise shoppers and vice versa. I don’t have an issue with either so long as they don’t deter me from achieving my mission statement.
If there is one thing that brings my inner cordial to boiling point and beyond then that would have to be the programmed droid. This wretched creature traditionally gets a little carried away on their power trip and refuses to exhibit any form of humanity or initiative, instead following their training to the letter and firing out pre-loaded dross like “I can’t do anything I’m afraid”. Again there are contributing factors like whether or not the person storming to the counter like a famished boar deserves their help in the first place but their lack of enterprise truly makes me wretch.
Frothing wildly from the offset has always seemed counter-productive to me, surely it’s wiser to approach with a friendly demeanor as opposed to chanting some gypsy curse and glaring with intent to cause the maximum amount of ruckus achievable. It’s all one big mind game and you lose it the moment you leave yourself exposed. Mrs Ganush had the right idea if you ask me. She had every right to grow a little weary as she went in with the correct attitude initially and couldn’t shit a break. You see, Alison Lohman had it coming.
Festive seasons bring all of these bubbling rivalries to the boil as folk are at their most dense around these periods. Shoppers whirl about like random dervishes, none with any real clue as to what their wild goose chase is in aid of. They pull out tattered pieces of illegibly written gibberish and spend five minutes locating their reading spectacles when the queue behind them are beginning to twitch uncontrollably. See, no concept of time, no awareness of their surroundings, it’s the very reason Dawn of the Dead resonated so strongly in the first place. You know what they lack?
Nowadays much is changing. Audio entertainment has long been governed by download, video games are rapidly following suit and sadly the same will soon be the case for movies. My opinions here are mixed; on one hand it cuts out the bullshit side of shopping. No pram-lacerations on our Achilles tendons and no getting stuck behind a whole family of oblivious douches as you attempt to navigate the labyrinth. One click and it’s yours, providing it’s actually posted and arrives intact. I see the attraction, the internet gifted me with Oliver Stone’s Seizure and Pete Walker’s Frightmare when searching high and low for them would likely never reap any rewards.
It’s all good if you end up with something tangible, not a file which can be misplaced or erased. I perish the thought of a world where these creature comforts don’t exist. I don’t want to become a cleric for fuck’s sake; I kinda enjoy feeling. So while I won’t be partaking in any last-minute panic purchasing and definitely won’t be insane enough to sniff around the January sales, I say good luck to you. Each to their own and if the notion of queuing for half-hour when you should be drinking snowballs and eating Quality Street appeals then good luck to one and all. Can’t say I’ll be shedding a tear as I pull open my sixth utterly pointless cracker to reveal a busted spinning top but you knock yourself out.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013 (Director’s Cut 2015)