This is it, guys. The last weekend before Christmas. Malls are open until midnight and there's an abnormal surplus of "safe" last-minute gifts (read: robes, commemorative ornaments and off-brand bath sets) in the front of every store.
And everyone you encounter is pretty much a jerk.
Except you, of course. Even though you are among the panicked hoards trying to find an acceptable gift for the in-law that you accidentally omitted from your shopping list. It's fine; you had your reasons. While you wait in line with the questionable pair of slippers, here's a handy guide to the most annoying people around you.
1. Suburban Moms With SUVs And Blood Lust
Don't even try to switch lanes, even if their Range Rover is but a speck in your rearview mirror. She WILL catch up and she WILL tailgate you. She's been stuck with her kids for too long, all of whom suddenly told her that they would be laughed out of their elementary school social circles unless she can acquire a zebra-print rubber band loom. That's right. Kids can be convinced to buy rubber band looms.
2. The Chipper Shopper Who Wants To Make Conversation In Line
She's usually wearing a themed vest and a Santa hat. You have a sneaking suspicion that she's not even there for last-minute shopping, but to treat an endless line like the world's worst cocktail party. (Which, for the record, would be a party where you stand in a crowd at Macy's, completely sober, listening to Jessica Simpson's version of "Little Drummer Boy.")
3. The Person Who Attempts To Cut The Line There are moments when one's ugly side is suddenly revealed for all to see. A young woman in Ugg boots shuffles up to the line while at least 10 people are glaring at her, as if you're just there for that aforementioned world's worst cocktail party. She doesn't notice because she's texting. This is the moment that separates the genuinely good from the rest of us who identified a little too much with Bruce Banner in The Avengers movie, when he said: "That's my secret, Cap. I'm always angry."
4. The People Who Just Don't Get Lines In The First Place
There will be one line feeding four registers. And they'll just confidently stride right up, again like it's no big deal. They usually lack the entitlement of the line-jumper in that they genuinely have no idea about the concept of one line feeding many registers in an efficient fashion. You know this because, when clarified about their error, they jump back and apologize.
5. The Person Who Wants Everything In Separate Bags
Or something else that's ridiculously specific and not something a sane person would request at 10 p.m. the day before Christmas Eve at a grocery store.
6. Gaggles Of Teenagers
That's right, "gaggles." Get off my lawn. Or at least, out of the way. Who hangs out at a mall on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, without any intention of buying anything?
7. The Driver Of The Lurking Car Who Is Trying To Find Out Where You Parked Think optimism is dead? Just look at the number of people who honestly believe they can find a parking spot near the entrance of a store this weekend. Suck it up, park in the back, get some exercise.
8. The Person Screaming At Some Overworked Cashier
Look, no one is happy to be in this situation. But did you really think that coupon code you found on RetailMeNot that promised 90% off full-priced toys at the Disney Store would really work? Don't take it out on cashiers, or anyone who is patiently putting up with the nonsense that is holiday shopping.
9. The Person Who Scoffs At You For Waiting So Long To Shop You already know you made a crappy decision. You will feel guilty when you hand over that Winnie The Pooh mug and blanket set to your teenaged niece is definitely too old for -- if she even liked anything in the first place. You can already feel yourself being mocked on Facebook. You know that you'll give your single aunt a complex that will take multiple therapy sessions to get through when you give her that Chia cat grass planter.
You don't need someone reinforcing this, unless they have access to a time machine. Or will let you have access to that "gift closet" they invariably have.
10. You. And Me. And Us. We're part of the problem. We may not yell, cut in line or do anything else unseemly. Yet, every year, here we are, panic-shopping. We might try to do the online shopping thing, but something will inevitably screw it up. The UPS guy will whisper-knock on your door, then claim you weren't home and reroute your package back to the Amazon.com mothership. Or, surprise! Barnes And Noble lied and they don't really have any of the things you ordered.
But really, those were isolated incidents. The rest of the time, it's definitely our fault. We wait for a better sale. Or, we take our packed schedules one day at a time and then, boom, it's Christmas. We wish people would actually follow the rhetoric they spout about how the holiday is too commercial, let's bring it back to what it used to be. But that never happens.
Maybe next year will be different.