I’ve been having an extended “go-round” with Lowes, lately. It’s the holidays. I need supplies. Lights. Winterizing supplies. A new artificial tree. I could go to Target for some of the stuff, but Oh My God, what a nightmare that place is! Full-up of shoppers (who never seem to put their sh*t back on the shelves in the right way), bright fluorescent lights overhead, echo-y floors and walls, the Christmas-y music, and the flashing of televisions and electronics. I can do it, but it’s Not my first choice.
Oh, if only I could drink…
Anyway, Target is a 20-30-minute drive from my house, and there’s a Lowes right on the route I take to and from work. Plus, for the house, I need some serious stuff. So, it’s a pretty much unavoidable part of my life, right now.
I used to go to Lowes on a regular basis, for a project I was working on. I was locked on target to build a prototype of a tool I thought would be super helpful for me… so I was in Lowes just about every weekend, looking for alternative parts. I was so focused on what I was doing, I hardly noticed the environment. Plus, I knew where I was going, and it was an adventure for me, not a chore.
Enter the variability of the autism spectrum.
Nowadays, I’m having real problems dealing with the place. And that goes for places like Office Max, where I also need to go pretty regularly to pick up office supplies. It’s more difficult for me these days, for some reason. Maybe I’m worn down by the holiday changes. Maybe I’m just more aware of how impacted I am. In any case, when I go to those places now, I really struggle at times. And I’ll forget why I went there, I’ll forget that I actually have a list with me, I’ll wander around, up and down aisles, forgetting why I’m there, and then buying the wrong thing — which is a real problem, when you tear open the ink cartridge carton, and you realize you got 220-series cartridges, not the 200-series ones you intended to get.
The problem is, as much as I’d love to patronize local businesses, and as much as I hate those big-box stores, I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for at local shops and businesses. Plus (as someone said in a blog I read lately), the big-box stores are very uniform and predictable, so there’s none of that panicked disorientation when I walk in the door. The experience is less than optimal, but at least I don’t have to interact with help staff who want to talk to me about what I need. I don’t want to engage in conversation. I just want to buy a box of hinges and screws, or pick up a new ink cartridge.
And I need things when I need them. I hate ordering on Amazon, because I have to wait… and I hate that. Even if it’s only 2 days, it’s still a wait, and that chafes. I think it’s partly because I sometimes forget that I ordered things, and when the delivery folks drop off the packages, sometimes they leave them at a door I never use, which means I sometimes discover a weathered package that’s been rained on, exposed to heat and cold, and is barely holding together… months after I actually ordered the thing. As convenient as Amazon Prime seems to be… for me, it’s just not.
But I’ve figured out how to get around all this. I can have the best of both worlds, as it turns out.
It’s the wonder of shopping online, and then picking things up at the location of my choice. I can go online and order the stuff I need, taking my sweet time… and then I just stop by the store, head right to the customer service desk, and collect my stuff. It’s all paid for already, so there’s none of that embarrassing sequence of confusing steps that I always manage to get backwards, no matter how often I do it. I just give them my name or telephone number, they pull my stuff, I sign for it, and I’m on my way.
No muss, no fuss, just getting what I need, when I need it, without the trauma of being reminded, yet again, how non-functional I can be under “normal” circumstances. Everybody else can “do” Lowes and Office Max and Costco and Best Buy… why can’t I?
I’m sick of worrying about it. I can’t do it easily. I can do it, yes, but I pay for it. And at this point in my life, I can’t see how any of that effort actually pays off.
So, I have my workaround – shop online, pick it up at the store, and get on with my life. In peace.