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How do you block the terror out… when it’s already invited itself in?

I went shopping with my Mom last Saturday (which was, according to the stores’ signs, “Canadian Black Friday”). Our goal was to shop the big sale in one of our favourite stores before heading over to visit my Grandmother.

We were greeted at the door by a cheerful sales representative at the door. She was 5’4”, in her 50s with short red hair. She wore black pants and a floral top in classic Fall colours. The colour suited her; the size did not. By all other appearances, she was normal.

She asked if she could “help us”, and we told her we were “just looking”, and continued chatting as we slowly moved from rack to rack. She followed us, jumping into and monopolizing our conversation. It was strange, however, she was friendly and clearly enthusiastic about their product and we let her prattle away. That was probably our first mistake.

She overheard my comment that I liked some of the clothes with a peacock feather print. That was our second mistake. She then proceeded to show me every single item that had a peacock print…and then some. Like jackets – even though I said I don’t wear jackets. And if I happened to escape sneak away, she would hold things up and get my attention by yelling across the store.

Mom and I tried splitting up. We thought that without conversation or comments to “feed her”, she’d become bored with us and latch onto someone else. It almost worked! She did start a conversation with a wizened lady with a walker. Our plan failed, however, when we came together again to compare notes on what we have seen (our third mistake) and another young sales rep. approached us. She barely finished asking “can I help you?” before her face turned pasty white, her eyes widened and she quickly backed away from us. A chill ran up my spine and I knew…she was right behind me! I was like Paul Wilkes in Misery, and she was “Annie Wilkes”.

We ignored our better instincts and discarded the “never leave a man (or woman) behind” rule, in order to take turns chatting with her so the other could shop unmolested. That was our fourth mistake. If we zigged, she zagged. If I touched the hem of a skirt, she would swoop in to ask me if I wanted to try it on. I distinctly remember mouthing “help me” more than once, as Mom circled around me. “Annie” was slowly draining our physical and emotional resources!

The mistakes started piling up fast. We started grabbing selecting items to try on, which bought us some time as she ran back and forth between us and the dressing rooms. But when it came time to try our selections on, we couldn’t identify our rooms. That’s because “Annie” had become our personal shopper and had added a few items to our collection – skirts, tops, purses, necklaces and jackets.

I thought I was safe in the dressing room; instead I was trapped. She kept bringing me more items to try on. She kept asking about sizes. By the time my boots and pants had come off and on several times (I had to be polite and try everything), I was light-headed and sweaty, and starting to panic.

Then my mother asked the unthinkable – was I decent? Could I come out and give her an opinion on the pants she was trying on? By that point, I was dressed in my own clothes again, sitting on the footstool in the fetal position, gently rocking. I knew…I knew that if I stuck my nose out that door, I would be assaulted by a barrage of questions. And I was correct. As soon as she saw me, she practically ran from the front of the store to the back. I admit that I failed as a daughter, nay a human being! I offered Mom my opinion and ducked back into the safety of my cubicle, leaving her in “Annie’s” clutches.

Once it had grown eerily quiet, I gathered my wits about me. I decided the only person who should cause a 40+ woman to cower in her dressing room is an over-bearing mother (or mother-in-law), and I don’t have either one. It was time to put on my Big Girl Panties…and run for my life! I was prepared to use all the tactics I had learned playing hours of Halo – even a melee with my elbow – if it meant getting out alive!

I yelled to Mom that I was heading out. Then I grabbed the sweater, the one item I wanted to buy and focused on the mission – the check-out counter. Mom was close behind me. “Annie” moved fast; I moved faster. I dodged more hangars (and questions) and stayed on task. I bought my sweater.

I left that store with my pocketbook intact, my dignity restored, my sweater bagged, and my Mom…

Mom almost didn’t make it, but the Manager recognized the look of fear in her eyes and saved the day. We fled with our bags clutched in our hands, heading to Tim Horton’s for a restorative cup of tea, and we never looked back!

Why didn’t I just flee the store once she joined our party and started dogging our every step? I’ll tell you why…Canadian Black Friday sale!

***

“Everyday you need a bulletproof vest
To save yourself from what you could never guess!” – Skillet, Rise

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