A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 175

Monday, November 30

I hate shopping.

I always have. I particularly hated going shopping for clothes with my mother. 

I’ll just wait in the car.

The universe of online shopping and delivery has opened a new world of angst for me. There’s always some bit of fine print waiting to snare you. And there’s a bit of a game involved, especially on eBay. Maybe something has a low price—supplemented, you’ll discover, by a large shipping price, and you sense that the seller is simply making money on the shipping. Then there are the auctions and bidding—things that Emily is good at, but which for me seem calculated to trigger buyer’s remorse. 

I’m risk-averse and prefer to see what I am buying. Will those apples be bruised? Will those size 36 jeans fit like the last size 36? (No, you fool.) No two clothing makers seem to use the same tape measures. Will that electric toothbrush really survive the shipment and work all right? (No.)

Many in today’s shopping public seem to think little of acquiring something, then quickly returning it. But for me, that just adds another layer of hassle. You gotta repack the dingus, make out a shipping label, then go to the post office or someplace to send it. Better to have never bought anything at all.

Recently while washing my french press coffee maker, I tipped it over in the sink and smashed it. Damn: I’d only had it for 40 years!

So I looked for a new one on eBay, and after lots of deep reading of fine print, comparisons of apples and oranges, I bought one—a Bodum. It was advertised as holding four cups. 

Then it arrived. It was tiny, holding only two cups, I found out. Well, I thought, it’s sort of cute so maybe I’ll keep it. But what if an occasion arises when I need to make coffee for company? (We should only be so lucky as to ever have social gatherings again.)

How dare they misrepresent the device’s size? Closer inspection of all Bodum devices shows that—by American standards—they are all misrepresented. “Eight cup” machines actually make only four cups. Bodum is a Danish company with headquarters in Switzerland (!). So perhaps “cup” to them always means a demitasse. 

In French movies, I’ve seen tough guys like Belmondo or Lino Ventura go into a bar and get a coffee—and, true enough, it always seems to be a tiny little thing. 

Here in the Land of the Free, we want a Mug of Java. A Jolt of Joe. Not a thimble, SVP.

So, I complained to the eBay vendor, and they were perfectly nice about taking the product back. They even emailed me a pre-paid label for the return.

Problem No. 2. We don’t have a computer printer here, so I had to find a place to print out the label.

This is turning into a shaggy pup of a story. All I mean to say is: I hate shopping. 

Dinner: A pearl barley and mushrooms casserole, Brussels sprouts, and a green salad.

Entertainment: More episodes of the Swedish version of Wallander on Kanopy, plus As Time Goes By season 5.