It's not the stores' fault. They're trying to make a buck in a time when few are to be had. So, with few exceptions, they understand the benefits of keeping customers moving and happy.
The fault is mine. I don't shop well, especially at sales. I'm not smart enough to figure out whether something's a good deal, or patient enough to deal with other shoppers, many of whom are even dumber than I am.
The day before Thanksgiving is an ugly time to shop. I tempted fate and went to a grocery store. In the middle of throwing a dozen last-minute items onto the belt of a checkout aisle, a guy got into line behind me with one item - a six-pack of beer.
"Go ahead," I told him.
"Thanks," the guy said, almost as if he didn't know what he was about to do.
No good deed goes unpunished. Fifteen minutes later, the guy was still trying to pay for his beer with a wallet-wrinkled, out-of-state check that he wanted to write for "$10 over."
It took the checker, the front-end manager and the store boss to convince the guy that cashing such checks was against store policy, basic common sense and probably the Geneva Accords. He went away beer-less and talking to himself.
He was lucky. By then, the line behind him was a thinly disguised lynch mob. In cases like this, I believe it is perfectly acceptable to set your phaser on "Whale Electrocution" and go to work.
It is precisely this lack of patience along with really poor impulse control that keeps me out of the stores during the holidays. Also, my family won't let me go.
My wife and daughters all work in retail. Every year they swear is the year when the holiday shopping season will usher in the Apocalypse.
When I got home and entered reason No. 262 into the Anti-Christmas Shopping Book, my youngest daughter saw it and laughed. She works in a grocery store. Such a thing barely registered on her radar.
There's not enough room here to list all the reasons why she believes customers should be forced to don shock collars upon entering a store, but here are the top three.
1. Shoppers who believing themselves to be the exception to every rule including the laws of physics try to run 1,000 items through the express lane.
2. Customers who throw their money onto the conveyer belt instead of handing it to the cashier, which is rude, slows things down and is always the cashier's fault when the conveyer belt eats it.
3. People who can't stop talking on their cellphones long enough to transact business.
OK, I started a new list: Things I Shouldn't Do When Forced to Shop During the Holidays.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org of facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.