Saturday, July 9, 2016

Chronicles of an Indecisive Online Shopper


Once, while I was in the hospital, a nurse asked how severe my pain was on a scale of 1-10.  My brain nearly exploded.  I wasn't dying (at least, I didn't think I was), and I could probably tolerate more pain without dying (although I didn't want to), and I was coherent enough to understand what she was after (which indicates some presence of mind), but the question was enough to push me over the edge.

What if I answered too low and they offered to give me a measly Tylenol?  What if I answered too high and revealed a laughably low pain threshold?  What in the world did these numbers correlate with, anyway?  Was 4 even worthy of being in the hospital?  Would 10 indicate that I was actively being mauled by a bear?  Could I offer a fraction of a number, like 7 and 3/4 degrees of pain, because 7 just didn't seem to cut it, but ratings of 8 and above seemed like they should be reserved for childbirth or broken femurs?  Was it permissible to answer, "Stop pelting me with questions! Just help me!"

If, like me, your mind responds in this fashion when a nurse prompts you with a standard question, you're probably an over-thinker.  It's doubly troublesome if you're indecisive and waver in your response by answering the question with another question -- 6, no wait, maybe it's actually a 7?

I've noticed that the combination of over-thinking and indecision is particularly troubling when you're attempting to buy something, anything, online.  (Or when you're scrutinizing paint chips, but that's another story for another day.)  While recently shopping for an area rug to place in our newly-hardwooded computer room, I fell into paralysis at the sheer number of options, as if area rugs were grains of sand on a grossly expansive beach of Internet search results.

Even the available filters -- seemingly useful parameters like price, size, color, and shape -- didn't help as much as I thought they would, given that there still were thousands of choices available at my fingertips when they were applied.

Where was the filter titled "Things I Would Like, Versus Totally Not Like" that removed ugly options from the onset?  Where was the "Things That Would Look Good in My Specific Space and Compliment Things I Already Own" filter?  What about one that found "Products That Arrive At Your House Actually Looking Just Like They Look in This Picture" and ferreted out misleading results?

Our civilization has explored the depths of space, created new body parts with 3D printing, and produced marvels of engineering that defy human limitations, yet we can't fully help a girl out when she's buying an area rug.

With dozens of tabs open on my computer, I muddled through the task with great uncertainty.  I overextended my husband's patience with the number of times I uttered the words "area rugs" any given day.  I waffled.  I wavered.  I enlisted the help of a wonderful friend who probably didn't have time for any of this, but offered her thoughtful opinions regardless.

The day I narrowed my search to four solid choices, I walked away from the computer victoriously.  Later, I discovered that my oldest daughter accidentally closed those hard-earned tabs while playing a game.  (Cue me, silently screaming.)


Apparently, I find it much easier to shop at brick-and-mortar stores where I can look at items in person, buy them, take them home, and then incessantly deliberate about whether something works or not.  Clicking "add this too my cart" feels like I'm pulling a trigger; tactile indecision seems much friendlier than its digital counterpart.

In case you're wondering, I finally purchased a rug.  (And then, sadly, I shipped it back because it was entirely wrong.)  Even more skiddishly after this failed attempt, I initiated another online search and selected a different option.  Days later when it arrived from UPS, I unrolled it and then sighed a happy sigh of relief.

It worked.

It was the right size, the right color, and the right price.  It was a rug that I liked, versus one that I totally did not like.  It looked good in my specific space and complimented things I already owned.  It arrived at my house actually looking just like it did in the picture.  It deserved a small moment of silence.


I should probably conclude by telling you that years ago, when one of my daughters was very young and I was playing an opposite game with her, I offered the word "buy."  I thought that she'd supply the antonym "sell," but without a moment's hesitation, she smiled and offered a definitive response: "return."

I learned two things from this.  One, she's entirely pegged my shopping tendencies.  Two, based on her quick and firm answer, she doesn't have a hard time making a decision.

I should have her do my online shopping.

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4 comments:

  1. LOL - I am the queen of indecisiveness, especially when it comes to purchases. I hate when hard-earned money is wasted. Plus, the bigger the purchase, the more indecisive I am. A rug would have me researching and wallowing in indecision for weeks.

    Thanks for sharing. This gave me a good giggle this morning.
    xoxo

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    1. I'm the exact same way in regards to the size of the purchase: very little deliberation for small items, but huge for large items. Glad I'm not alone!

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  2. Recently I experienced this same indecisiveness. I spent days making a wardrobe decision. Days!
    You see I'm going on a business trip soon; all the business attire I had from my last trip (3 yrs ago) just was not comfortable. The tops were too big in the bosom area, thus flashing the world with a simple picking up of an item. The cropped dress pants....were too big in the waist, therefore the crotch constantly pulling against my meatier thighs. My blazers pulled taut across my back pulling my sleeves nearly to my elbows. I purchased the items at Goodwill, then. I have better luck finding petite and short sizes there without spending a fortune!
    I tried the clothes, they were a bit ill fitting then but I was desperate. I was leaving in a few days; I reasoned that I could cope with it.
    I am always desperate when clothes shopping followed by near tear jerking frustration. Well fitting clothes while spending a Fortune or ill fitting clothes, I can tough it out, for THAT price. So that was 3 yrs ago. I learned from my last experience that ill fitting clothes made me cranky, and thus never wire the stuff again!
    Fast forward present: I've tried stitch fix too expensive and not a perfect fit. Shopping online helps me avoid a public breakdown and disappointment.
    This time I was smart! ThredUp lets try it, and finally I got smarter. I know my measurements not all smalls equate to my size. And not all petite sizes are the same across different brands. I painstakingly looked up the measurements for every brand of clothing that piqued my interest and price range. Now I wait patiently on my mint green Polk a dotted box from ThredUp ( 2-6 days), praying all fits swell. I've got a month this time instead of a few days....
    For the record I purchased 23 items ( dresses, shirts, skirts, pants,cardigans) for $150, saving nearly $1,200 off retail. Now I wait with anticipation.

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    1. I haven't ventured into shopping online for clothes since I always want to be able to try them on. You're right, there is SO much variation between sizes, depending on the brand. It's hard to know what will work.

      I hope your purchases work for you!!

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