Christmas Shopping and Driving
Time has arrived for the hustle and bustle of all good Santa’s and Elves to meet on the streets and in the shopping malls of America in search of those perfect gifts for friends and families. Some of us look on this time as a fun adventure, and some of us really dread the gridlock of cars and vehicles searching for the same. The day after Thanksgiving till December 24th the streets and highways are packed with people driving for the same goal: “The ultimate shopping adventure.” Let’s explore some ways to make this shopping adventure easier, and more fun.
The day before the big shopping extravaganza check over your vehicle. Make certain there is enough air pressure in the tires. Fuel up the vehicle before you take off, check all fluid levels, and go ahead and wash the car. A nice looking car even if it’s old says that you are special. Since its December you may want to stash aboard a blanket or two, flashlights and a safety kit which contains, battery jumper cables and hazard markers. You don’t expect anything bad to happen, but you are better off being prepared.
Turn signals are your friend. Please use them. It’s a small thing we can do to communicate to other drivers our intentions. Many people have decided that they aren’t important. Use them to change lanes, to indicate that you’re going to be turning a corner, and that you are going to park. That’s three places that let other people know your intent. What could be more useful? I say nothing. Think ahead, and use those indicator lights. Along with turn signals are traffic lights. They are there to help prevent accidents. That yellow light means that the light will soon be red, not to gun the accelerator full throttle, and drive through the intersection like a mad man. There is a time to drive through the intersection and a time not to do so. Be cautious and pay attention.
Parking spaces are very scarce during this time of year, especially the ones that you want. So, park where there is a space available, and walk. The fresh air will help keep you refreshed. While we are on the subject of parking, take the time and park between the lines. Those of you who have new cars and who want to keep them clean and shiny without scratches, you are inviting someone to key your car. Your car is not anymore special than anyone else’s car. Each of us has a special car. Take only the amount of space you need, and square the car in between those solid lines. After all that’s why they are painted on the pavement. If you aren’t handicapped, or pregnant then don’t park in those parking areas. They too, have to purchase presents for friends and family.
Helping Other Drivers
Walking to and from the car from a store or the mall, you have time to notice if empty parking spaces are available. If you notice a driver that needs a parking place, then point that space out with your hand. After all this is the season of kindness. You’ll be helping out your fellow man. If you do that, then chances are in your favor that someone else will point out an empty space for you when you need it. Remember what comes around goes around.
Circling, the parking lot is a great way to use lots of gas. These are hard times and Christmas is no exception. We need to save money on our fuel costs as well as our gifts. Circling also can cause accidents. When you spend your time and energy looking for a place to park, you endanger the pedestrians. You might not see them as they are walking to and from their cars and stores. Pay attention, and park in a place that you’ll remember.
What about those cell phones? Yes, they are a blessing, but they can also be a curse. The cell phone is another object that can keep you preoccupied, and your attention off of your driving. I’m not suggesting that you stop using it, but here are some guidelines that may help you use your cell phone better, and keep accidents away. If you have to call someone, do it either in the parking lot before you place that vehicle in reverse. If you are driving then pull off on a side street and park your car. Use your cell phone outside of the store. The other shoppers and the merchants will thank you, because they really don’t want to hear your conversation. Distractions need to be at a minimum, and if at all possible try not to use the phone and drive.
Plan ahead. Know what stores you are going to, when they will open and map out the drive. The internet is a good source for maps to any city. Yahoo maps and Map Quest maps are just a few. This will save you on fuel costs, and give you more money for gifts. Not all of you can afford a GPS, but they are also a useful device in helping you map out your shopping experience. Plan your meal time, and what restaurant(s) you’ll be visiting for your meal or meals.
While you are planning on which stores you’ll be visiting. Make a list of gifts and people for whom you will be purchasing. Write this down in a notebook. Write down what the item is you want, and where you can possible buy that item. This is why it’s good to use some sort of a notebook. You may have several stores to choose from in searching for that specific item, and a store may be out of that gift. If you aren’t sure as to what specific items you are looking for then at least write down a few ideas in which they might like.
Do you know of someone in the area; maybe a friend or related family member? You may want to plan to stop for a nice break in your shopping day. Find out in advance if they will be home, and give them a time frame of when you’ll be stopping at their home. Inform them that you are out shopping and won’t be able to stay very long. This is an excellent idea especially if you have kids, and gives you and them a rest break.
Provide yourself a care package. What do you need in this care package? Shopping can be exhausting, and the most important item to put in this package is water. Our brains and muscles need this staple even while shopping. We have a tendency to eat and drink things that really aren’t good for us. Put some fruit, and crackers and even some cheese or other foods that cost way too much at the malls or convenience stores. Drink water often, and snack a little. Speaking of being comfortable, wear comfortable shoes and layer your clothing. It may be hot in the stores and cold outside.
Do you have a phone book of the area? This is another good way to help plan your shopping experience. You can call ahead to see if they actually have the item for which you are searching, or to find out if they have extended their hours. You may need to have an address of a store, which you hadn’t expected you would need. What do you do if you don’t have a phone book for the town? Most convenience stores will let you borrow them. You just can’t take them out of their store. After all that’s why there are no phone books where public phones are. Here’s where that notebook comes in handy. You have someplace to write down the information you need.
That’s what Christmas shopping is all about; having fun. The safer you are, and the more prepared you are, the better your experience, and the least frustrated you will be. Prepare your vehicle in advance, and plan your route according to your favorite stores. Be certain that you have mapped out each store, and mapped out your restaurants. Be sure to bring a care package for you, your companions or family, and drink plenty of water. Park where there is available space that you will remember and park between the lines. Most importantly turn signals are your friends, and use them. Use your cell phone when you are parked, not while you drive. Your Christmas shopping experience will be a great grand adventure filled with lots of gifts and fun times for you and your companions.
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