Shopping with my sister.
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Shopping with My Sister​

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The Early Days

​Here’s the truth: I hate shopping! Yes, I know women are supposed to love shopping. When I was a child, my mom would take my older sister and me shopping in downtown Baltimore. There was Stewart’s, Hoschild Kohn, Hecht Company and Hutzler’s. These were the four big stores everyone went to because in the early 1950s, there were no malls. Mom looked at everything! Marcia oooed and ahhhed along with Mom. But I was bored. I’d pull on my mother’s skirt and say, “When are we goin’ home?”

​Her answers varied: “We just got here; I haven’t bought anything yet; we still need to go to the linen department…” etc.

​As I got older, I still hated shopping. I guess Mom was tired of my whining, so she left me home with my grandma, who lived with us. I loved Grandma, so this was a win-win. As a teenager, I did go to the mall with my friends, but we weren’t really shopping. We were looking at clothes our moms would never let us buy; or we were boy-watching.

A Married Woman

​As a young bride, I made curtains and bedspreads for our home. I didn’t mind going to the fabric shop to buy what I needed because it was a different experience. I found fabric I liked and didn’t even need a pattern to make easy things for the house.

​When my children were small, I made all their clothes as well as many of my own things. Of course, I did have to buy shoes, jackets, etc. but it didn’t seem like a chore.

​Well, there was grocery shopping (which I hate), but ya gotta do what ya gotta do! I cut out coupons, made my list, tried to shop on weekdays and odd hours and was usually able to complete the task in a half hour.

That Was Then; This is Now:

​I looked at the screen on the phone when I heard it ring. If I get 100 calls a day, three might be actual people I want to talk with. When I saw my sister’s name, I answered.

​“Hey, what’s up?”

​“Are we having lunch on Sunday?” Marcia asked.

​“Sure, do you want to go out or eat in?”

​“Well, I have a few errands to run and thought maybe we could do that and just eat somewhere.”

​“Okay, works for me. Where are your errands?”

“​I have to go to ULTA to get some makeup and then to DSW. They have these shoes you can slip into but still fit snugly. Both stores are in the same shopping center in Owings Mills.”

​“Sounds good. I’ll try to pick you up around 12:15, okay?”

​On Sundays I have a routine: back exercises, laundry, breakfast, Beachbody routine, shower, dress and then whatever plans I have.

​“Honey,” I said to my husband, “do you have everything you need? I’ll probably be out a couple of hours.”

​(Note: Stuart had a stroke last summer and is still recovering. He cannot do everything by himself, so I try to make sure he has what he needs before I leave the house.)

​I called Marcia at 12:15. “I’m leaving now. Will be there in 12 minutes.”

​“Okay. I’ll be waiting in the lobby.”

​At almost 12:30, I arrived at North Oaks Retirement home where Marcia lives but did not see her. After a few minutes, I turned off the engine. Knowing my sister, she probably wanted to make a bathroom visit before she left home. But after six or seven minutes, I couldn’t decide if I should be worried or annoyed. I called her landline. No answer. Just to be sure, I called her cell. She didn’t pick up, but then I saw her coming off the elevator so I hung up.

​“What happened?” I asked.

​“Oh, I ran into a neighbor I’ve never met before, and she was telling me that she does shopping and runs errands for people.” Marcia went on giving me some details which I couldn’t care less about. I was annoyed that she kept me waiting for no reason. But I said nothing because, well, why?

​“Okay, so where are we going first?”

​“Let’s go to ULTA.” She told me where it was. We found a good parking place and went in. We’d already had a bit of a bad start (from my perspective). I think it was the precursor of what was to come.

Our ULTA Experience

​Marcia wanted to get concealer that was the same brand as she’d been using. However, she didn’t bring the old one (shocking!) and had to depend on her memory (she doesn’t have one). The sales lady who was helping her was an angel. There were two different types of the concealer she wanted: one was plain and the other had a bit of shine. Here are some of my sister’s questions: “Well, which one is better? Which one would be better for me or my skin? Which will last longer? Do you need less if you use the shiny one? Are there other products like it that are maybe better for me now that I’m older?”

​There were a lot of other questions that, of course, required answers for which my sister had trouble deciding. I could go on, but I don’t want to bore you.

​After the concealer, she wanted to get mascara. It was the same thing all over again. Now, Marcia is the customer, so she is sitting in the chair in the makeup area. There were no other chairs. I was standing, then leaning against the wall, then trying to find a low counter or other place to sit (there was none). I just had to grin and bear it. But the grin was becoming more of a grimace!

​Finally, after about 45 minutes, she’d made that purchase, but she needed something else. I have no clue what that was. I walked over to a corner, put my body in a pelvic tilt and leaned against the wall. When that got too uncomfortable, I walked over to a counter and leaned on it with my arms, trying to give my back a break. (Hmmmm interesting choice of a word here.)

​After maybe another 20 minutes, she’d found what she wanted and was ready to pay. There was a line. It looked like they were giving something away.

​I said, “Marcia, I’m going to wait in the car. I can’t stand one more second or my back is just gonna give out!”

​That is when the fabulous salesgirl said, “Oh just give it to me with your credit card, and I’ll take care of it for you.” And then she walked us over to two chairs where we could wait. I wanted to give her a tip!

We’re Not Done Yet

​When we left the store, I asked Marcia, “Where’s the shoe store?” She pointed to it. We definitely could have walked, but it would have taken a few minutes, and I really needed to sit, so we drove.

​The shoe store was busy but not crowded. Marcia wanted a particular shoe which she couldn’t find. I helped her look and showed her a few pairs that might work, but none was right. Who would ever buy shoes that aren’t perfect? We all know what foot pain is like.

​In any case, we were there about a half hour, but she didn’t buy anything. I felt bad that she couldn’t find what she wanted in the right size or color, but I was thrilled that it didn’t take too long! And, of course, a shoe store has lots of places to sit!

Food Should Be Easy

​We were both hungry. We went to Panera’s which is close to where we were. Neither of us wanted to play with the automatic machines (full disclosure: She’s 81 and I’m 79), so we went to the counter. There were no lines because everyone goes to the do-it-yourself machines. It took me about two minutes to make my choice.

​By the time Marcia had decided and met me at the table I chose, my food was almost ready. I was about half-way through my meal when she finally got hers. But because she ate only about half of her lunch, we finished at the same time.

​I took her home, we said goodbye, she thanked me for taking her, and I drove home.


Marcia is no longer driving because her mind is not good enough and she’d had a ridiculous accident. Our brother told her it was time to stop driving. I agreed and so did her son. However, now she needs rides to do errands. I LOVE my sister. Definitely, I will take her to the doctor, the bank, the post office or any other place EXCEPT shopping. I wonder if maybe I’d forgotten how much I hate it!

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Read more by Linda Miller.

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One Comment

  1. I would take her shopping but I live in Florida. She taught me how to shop so the least I could do is help her out