The lesson shopping taught me

I was buying shirts at a store recently. Not my choice. A female friend who saw me on the computer selecting articles of clothing from Amazon decided there was a better way. She assured me she had checked with the owner and indeed the store carried oversized garbs for the big and tall man that I am. It would cost me double with shipping and handling to order clothes from the US. To boot, I would not even be able to try them on for fit.

Here I was, ingratiating myself to my friend, trying on shirts that barely fit, listening to the clerk explain all the beautiful choices she had on display, the difference between Italian, French and American sizes. An XXL is not the same across cultures. Suddenly, the clerk stopped talking and looked at me straight in the face before blurting out: “Thank you for letting me go on running my mouth. I can tell, none of this is fazing you. To you, I’m just rambling.”

Touché. I smiled. I was being polite. I wasn’t thrilled about shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. For the past ten years I have been religiously ordering my clothes online, tired of driving around looking for sizes that I could not easily find. And when I found them, they did not come in the right color or the right style.   

Granted, being in the US, I never worried about customs and shipping fees, with Amazon Prime I only paid the listed price and had the article at my door within a day, and at the latest, 48 hours. Now I’m in the Caribbean and it’s a very different ballgame. I often hesitate before I order.

But more than anything, it’s the clerk’s comment that caught my attention. I wonder how I could elicit the same reaction in others, and not get hooked on what they say, to the point sometimes of triggering a conflict. Why don’t I always let things slide? Life would be so much easier if I did detach more often. I would get to hear what people are really saying and not what I think they are saying. And most importantly, I would get to go on unbothered, pretending nothing’s happened.

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