3 Minor Social Situations We Make Awkward for No Reason

#1. Speaking to Any Retail Employee

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When I go out shopping for anything other than groceries or forbidden mystical weaponry, I will wander aimlessly around the store for hours if I can't find what I'm looking for, because I am terrified of asking an employee for help. What if the employee I flag down was right in the middle of an important, life defining task? What if they don't have the CD I'm looking for, or I mispronounce the artist's name? My house would never recover from the shame.

SST Records
"Oh, the umlaut is silent."

So, I will spend ten minutes staring at the same rack of Action/Adventure DVDs looking for Enemy Mine, knowing in my heart that a copy of Enemy Mine has never been within the four walls of this Target, but being unable to flag down one of the many employees wandering around the toasters and cordless phones (because Target likes to lump all of its "electronics" into one vague pile of unrelated nonsense like a Dust Bowl farmer's estate sale), because the thought of doing so fills me with real, actual dread. I don't want to talk to anyone - I came here looking for Enemy Mine, so that I could spend the rest of the evening avoiding that specific activity.

This is the exact reason why I buy as many things as possible on the internet. I suspect this is why most people buy things on the internet -- we're all secretly afraid of having to ask a sales associate for help. But there are times when I don't want to have to wait two days for my purchases to come in the mail. Sometimes I need a copy of Krull immediately. So I will stride purposefully into Best Buy and reflexively deny any solicitation of assistance as if I'm a fucking franchise owner and have the entire floor plan committed to memory, even if I have never been to this particular Best Buy location before in my life and have no idea how to even find my way back to the entrance.

"Your assistance won't be required, shopkeep, because as you can see, I absolutely know what the fuck I am doing."

When I inevitably can't find what I'm looking for, I'll start doing laps around the store. I will walk into other sections, containing items that I have absolutely no intention of buying, just to create the appearance that I know exactly what I'm doing and am merely taking my time as an informed, mature consumer to peruse all of their available goods before making my purchases. Multiplicity doesn't seem to be anywhere in the DVD section, so I'd better go take a walk through Appliances and look at all the refrigerators like I'm fucking Ty Pennington doing preproduction legwork for an episode of Extreme Makeover. No more Game of Thrones iPhone cases? Better go check out the car stereos to make sure some distracted night stocker didn't put any over there by mistake.

Jacob Wakerhausen/iStock/Getty
"Hm, I don't see Piranha II anywhere. I'd better look behind these Aerosmith CDs just in case."

When I finally do have to admit defeat and ask someone for help, I do it in a way that can only be described as "serial killer-y." I don't walk straight up to a sales associate and ask, oh no. I spend at least five minutes singling out the employee who looks the least busy (because I wouldn't want to interrupt some important task and have them hate me even more than they already do for the idiot question I'm about to ask with my idiot face) and begin circling them like a blind shark. Then I stand at a distance, so as to not intrude on their personal space or give them the impression that I need help, and ask them to help me find what I am looking for. Once I leave, they probably dust everything I touched for fingerprints and send them to the FBI to see how many disappearances they can solve that afternoon.

"Yeah, he followed me around the store for, like, 10 minutes before finally asking me where we keep our Dennis Quaid movies. Why yes, officer, he did smell like sobs and fear."

When asked to introduce himself on his first day of college, Tom told his Freshman English class that his nickname was Susan and absolutely no one laughed. Read his novel Stitches and follow him on Twitter and Tumblr.

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