Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Benefits of Browsing

A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, you used to be able to shop by wandering. That is, you could go into these cute little independent stores with shopkeepers who sold items you'd peruse until you found just the right something whether it was a gift or a book or a toy. The number of places you can do this that aren't corporate owned is always dwindling nowadays. There are very few places that sell non-boutique items where you can shop that aren't a big box store.

Today, however, I had the odd experience of visiting Border's, a national book chain, as it goes through liquidation before finally becoming no more. I got through it without a tear being shed, and although the parking lot was full, it wasn't the same mayhem as it was when Pages for All Ages went out of business. I took one look at the line and didn't even bother going into that store clearance.

Everyone knows I'm big on libraries, but really, I'm big on books. I like them in my hand, although I have recently downloaded my first two books using the Kindle App for my iPad 2. But today, I was looking for my child, my classroom, myself. I could have spent hours and hundreds of dollars putting books in my basket. It was hard to put some items back. It was hard to stop looking.

When I go into a box store, it's not a comfortable shopping environment for me. There's too much. Too many points of my life coming together in one giant, poorly lit place. I know it's a matter of convenience. I mean, that's what our culture has boiled down to, right? Convenience. We eat fast because it's convenient. We want our kids to go to neighborhood schools because it's convenient. We do everything to make life a little easier, because lots of times, life is really pretty hard. So why not make the easier stuff -- easier.

But in a big way, I think it's also made us terribly impatient while at the same time, I think it's making us more efficient.

And patience is something everyone in my house seems to be short of lately. So I wonder, if we did things the long way for a while, if maybe we'd get some of it back? Because lately, we all sound like a bunch of whiners, and well, I know how unattractive that characteristic can be.

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