Time to mortar a brick

parking-lotI’ve been hearing a lot of hubbub of late about online retail sales overtaking traditional “brick and mortar” businesses.

Boo freakin’ hoo. To my way of thinking that’s like worrying about one turd shitting on another.

Still, I thought it might be a good idea to reminisce a few moments about the proverbial good times of ye olde mom and pop. The good old days and the “little man” of Alan Jackson lore.

Brick and mortar? Mom and pop? Who the hell is in charge of naming this shit? Dr. Seuss? Family jewels are found in aisle 42. Bait and tackle in aisle 69. That reminds me: “Clean up on aisle 69!”

I’ve already written quite a bit about Mr. Online Entrepreneur. He’s slippery, slimy and makes jackals and amebas seem like highly evolved life forms. He lies about everything including – most especially – that the product you want is “in stock.” Then he gets your money and you wait weeks to find out if you’ll ever get the product he just totally lied about or if you’ll ever get your money back. Good times.

How about Mr. Brick Mortar? How does he compare? And who is this guy?

Does the plethora of dings on the side of your car give you any kind of freakin’ clue?

If he was holding a brick this would be the best photo of all time. Alas, all he has is his enemy's junk.

If he was holding a brick this would be the best photo of all time. Alas, all he has in his fierce grasp is the enemy’s junk.

Brick and mortar does have some advantages. One that comes to mind, for example, is that it worked long before the internet became available. Another is, well, umm, I guess that’s about it. Apparently there aren’t any other advantages.

Disadvantages? Let’s see how many I can some up with.

For starters, even the name sucks. We all know what you do with bricks. You throw ’em. Preferably at targets of extreme prejudice. And mortar? That’s what soliders do. It’s such a trusty weapon that even Captain Kirk still uses them (occasionally) in the 24th century. Take that nasty Gorn.

Since we’re brave, though, that doesn’t scare us away. Let us try to venture inside.

First we have to navigate the parking lot. This is where the owner of the business really lays it out, plain as day, about what a piece of shit he truly thinks you are. You want to shop in my store? Fine! I’ll damage your valuables. (Which, as his signs proudly state, he’s not responsible for. That fact that he so proudly maintains a total lack of responsibility for everything speaks volumes.)

The parking lot. The thing that almost above all else makes small business brick and mortar owners shit little green apples. Oh the fun they love to have with their parking lots. Sometimes they engage in Parking Wars with their neighbors. (Hear that, Discovery Channel? I just tossed you a freebie.) Two businesses share a parking lot? They’ll put up a wall in between to screw that other guy. Sure as hell don’t want his scummy customers passing through my lot. No way!

Looks like a customer has seem feedback for your mortar.

Looks like a customer has some feedback for your mortar. And geez. Will ya get a load of that line for the iPad?

Then they’ll post signs. “Acme Corp parking ONLY.” Yes, we are truly impressed with the inverse size of your brain.

And, let’s be honest. We can have a little honesty between friends, right? The truth of the matter is that your precious parking lot never exceeds 20% capacity except two days of the year. That’s it. So fucking with our rides isn’t a matter of necessity. It’s a matter of pride. It’s optional. It’s something you do purely for the joy.

But it’s the width of the spaces where they really shine. Yes, yes, do come in. Shop until you drop. Meanwhile, your chariot will be treated like a fucking piñata by other slobbering idiots just like you.

You actually want to get out of your car? As long as your most oblique body angle is no more than three inches wide you’ll be in luck. No? Then dig your car door deep into your neighbor’s ride. That’s it! Dig deeper! You have to want it.

I did some research. The average car is about 6 feet with. Parking spaces in brick and mortar lots can be a mere 7.5 feet. (Some evolved cities have laws that require them to be 9′ wide. Damn socialists!) That leaves a mere 1.5 feet of clearance between the four-inch lines painted on the ground. In other words, a total of 18 inches. Assuming an equidistant parking job, that leaves nine inches on either side.

Not that anyone ever actually parks between the lines.

Can you see yet how much the small business owner cares about you? Can you feel it?

The aisles for driving in the parking lot are hella crazy, too. They are designed to encourage hit and run accidents. Leaving an anonymous note that says, “I hit your car!” complete with smiley face is optional. Either way the military-style video cameras on the roof catch all the action, not that they’ll ever do you any good.

In the store window is a sign that announces “everything” is on sale in letters that are 4.2 feet tall. In the bottom corner, in letters 4.2mm tall, the fine print announces: “Offer excludes linens, housewares, electronics, sporting goods, toys, jewelry, hardware, garden center, eye care, nail care, kinder photo, tax preparation, pharmacy, music and automotive.” They don’t bother to mention that the only item actually part of the sale is a Pete Rose bobblehead doll with the store’s brand name and logo. Who needs the hall of fame? And who needs honesty when you’re shopping?

An uber-prepared bargain hunter who is ready to shop until you drop.

An uber-prepared bargain hunter who is ready to shop until you drop.

Inside the fun continues when you finally get a really good whiff of your fellow shopper from 50 feet away. Yikes! That’s one area where online shopping still falls short. Don’t worry. They’re working on it. I’m sure they’ll also find a way to show how much they care.

For the bonus round, you get all the way into the store, navigate the endless maze to the farthest corner to find the single item you were there to get, only to find out they don’t have it in stock. Gotcha! Thanks for playing.

The final coup de gras (aka “deathblow”) before you get to your redecorated ride is the checkout line. You have two choices. The Express Lane where they never enforce the item count. (They wouldn’t want to offend the other customers AKA everyone besides you.) Or the one other lane that is open with the 90-minute wait. The best part is when you finally get to be “next” and the checker has to grab keys and go on a five-mile hike because the customer in front of you wants cigarettes. (The most important item in the store. Bar none.)

Okay, okay! Uncle! Uncle! I give.

I totally grok you, brick and mortar. You hate me. You really hate me.

But you don’t have to be so vicious about it. Hell, you almost make Donald Trump and Sarah Palin seem not so bad. You could play it more subtle, you know. But that would take a bit of effort.

Whatever. I’m not that slow on the uptake.

I hope y’all enjoyed this fun-filled romp to the traditional store. It was my pleasure to be your tour guide. We lost a few of you along the way. You can’t take a hill without a few losses. You will be remembered with honor. The freedom to shop has been defended. Your sacrifice will not be in vain.


7 responses

  1. “like one turd shitting on another”…..that will be my favorite line of the day!! I’m going to do some online shopping now. 😉


    1. I do have a way with words. Maybe one of the turds is brick and mortar and the other is movie theaters. Two businesses that don’t seem to give a shit about the customer experience.

      People talking during your movie? Ha ha ha! It sucks to be you. It’s not like we’ll ever do anything about it. Ever. By the way, thanks for the free money. Sucker.


      1. Lol….I love the way your brain works!


  2. The rage, sir, the rage!

    Is that toy soldier juggling?


    1. I think I’ve already said too much about the toy soldier. Let’s just politely say that he was ill-conceived.

      Yeah, I have been feeling the rage of late. The good news is that sooner or later I’ll figure out a way to deal with it.


  3. I can totally see you as a “mystery shopper” in a big box store. You’d give us the facts, man. Just the facts.


    1. As I do enjoy shopping so, I think mystery shopper would be be a dramatic change of pace for my career. Negativity taken to an extreme level. I like it!


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