Ray Massey
9 min readDec 21, 2022

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Help, I am lost in a MatrixLikeVirtualMegaGlobalStore.

Why isn’t there a Click and Demolish option?

A tale of the Wrong Trainers and potentially available presents.

Well its Christmas and like millions of other folk I am wandering around with purposeful aimlessness in an online Superstore. I am wilfully trying to identify gifts for my Wife, as well as all those other people who, at this time of year, I am grudgingly obliged to acknowledge as significant in some way or other?

Yes, it is the Amazon store website in which I am searching with increasingly desperate incompetence. And Yes, I should have taken more notice throughout the year when my Important Other made reference to things She/we really needed. But hey, I am a Grumpy Old Man from the East End of London. And, whilst I am also an experienced Husband, the practice of remembering things from a few months ago is definitely no longer my best skill.

So like millions of other blokes in my situation, I have to Walk the Line

incarcerated in an Amazon search field whilst constantly reminding myself that I didn’t really pay enough attention during the past year — again !

Consequently I always leave the present buying until the last-ish minute in the hope that I might stumble across an ideal gift reminder or uncover a prezzie update, but this never ever happens. So I am left to just guess what to get for the Love of My Life and Most Astoundingly Competent Mother of our Children.

Of course I actually consider this to be a triumphal strategy, that unerringly leads me towards making a sophisticated ‘Best Choice’ guess. However, historical evidence seems to show that this line of wisdom is not effective because my perceptiveness really does not work this way.

But at least it’s a positive approach — or is it just Magical Thinking?

Since both my other half and I have professional career backgrounds based around the Slippery Slidey Social Sciences. We are therefore perfectly able to tell the difference between an individuals’ expressed “Wants” and a person’s realistic “Needs”.

However, I have learned over a long time; that things which could reasonably be labelled as just Wants — and so will obviously be rated as a lower level of Human necessity. Can, at Christmas time, be radically re-defined as having mystically segued into the new reality of now actually being ‘Needs’.

This situation is not as treacherous as it would seem at first sight. Initially this may look like a trap for an unwary Husband/Partner/ProtoPartner/Friend in search of serious gift ideas. For, how would such a person ever know what it was that their ‘other half’ now considered to be a Need instead of a Want?

But surprisingly this situation can be made to work both ways. For, if the gift idea seeker had made a record of the possibles — even if they may only have been Wants. Then, this Pilgrim at the Oracle of The Acceptable Present, now needs only to re-arrange his or her list themselves. Thus ensuring their ongoing preservation by deciding to elevate mere Wants into Needs at a knowingly selfish stroke.

And Viola — a Needs Led presents list appears. Simples.

Consequently, for a Time Restricted Partner hopelessly surfing through a selection of stunningly inappropriate ideal gifts — which are easily revealed under the Last Minute Deals banner. This reverse strategy can readily resolve the burning issue of what present to chose. Because, when you elevate a mere Want into a Need it then becomes automatically a happily received ‘good and acceptable gift’ on Christmas morning. So Well Done You !!

Tales of my current search activities aside, I am not only a Yuletide visitor on this Wild West Web Site. I’m not here just to scramble around trying to catch an idea for a gift. Oh No — I am a regular Amazon user, mostly because its the most cost effective way to get books for my Kindle.

However, other Kindle users will know that the purchase of new books for your Device now happens quickly and seamlessly. Moreover it generally does not involve visiting the website at all. New eBooks are: offered; chosen and then ‘whispered’ into your kindle.

Where they promptly get in the way of whatever else you were trying to read.

Eventually your newly acquired title just disappears from the front screen for ever. It is then subsumed into your Library having been itemised into some unknown and undeserved Amazon designated sub category. Never likely to be found again. Unless of course you elect to ‘Re Install your Factory Settings’. In which case you are cheerily advised that you will loose everything you ever had. OooraH Kindle !

This year I began surfing for Present ideas back in November. But it seems I did not stay well focussed on this search around my Significant Other’s Gift options. I know this because I am currently having to deal with the consequences of going ‘Off Piste’ and buying some nice new trainers just for myself.

I blame my teenage Son for this. He had already identified a very cool pair of Nike ‘somethings’ for his own main Christmas present. So I thought I would have a look as well — just a cheeky little look, honest. But somehow during that visit, I ended up ordering myself a pair of Nike Air Max at what I thought was not too bad a price.

More worryingly, as I made my way out through this sinuous system, I did not properly manage to evade the ever present; Sign Up For Amazon Prime Pop Up Plague Pits that Populate your Purchase Pathway. There they lurk, quietly acting as click bait traps for the unwary. Just waiting ready to pounce on us unwary shoppers as we go by innocently trying to navigate our basket through the miasma of unhelpful further offers and reach the apparent safety of Buy It Now Island.

So currently Amazon have me cornered. I am labelled as a Prime Member even though it is the unhappy result of a moments inattention. And, quite purposefully it seems, there is little I can do about it. Except make sure I do not foolishly tread in something else that will make this situation permanent.

But, at heart I am one of life’s Dissenters. So, whilst I am temporarily trapped inside this Matrix, my mind says — Why don’t we see what can I get out of being here? Well, I can apparently enjoy all that PrimeLand normally offers to its occupants without paying anything at all, because I am currently in “1 Month Free” LimboLand.

This is a sort of Product Purgatory with benefits. It seems that I can take advantage of priority purchase options; I have free delivery and almost endless One or Next Day Delivery options. Personally I can’t really tell the difference between a 1 day and a Next day, get it to you Service. Can You? Plus, I can get oodles off the marked price if I foolishly take out a credit card with them. The list of benefits beckons like a Collective Cornucopia of Correct Consumer Choices. All I need to do now is find the way out?

However, that’s not really the main issue. An initial problem is that I am a 70+ year old; overweight; bearded guy from Essex — but I can dream can’t I ?? So I did not really give any proper thought to what I would actually look like whilst I was wearing these way-too-cool shoes. Consequently, when I did decide to get round to it, the image that arose in my mind was really not good.

At first I thought to cancel my order. But then I decided that it would be best to leave the order in place and commission my achingly Hip Son to resell them through his WotsUpMate/EasyNet/GroupEstyThing. On the basis of — if he could get at least what I paid for them, then any profit would go to him.

However, when he swiped through his Cool Trainer guide he cheerfully told me that: (a), he really would not have bought these particular trainers and (b) they were already available at a better price and I would not make my money back. So I resigned myself to eventually having to wear these shoes and then Bluff my way through the inevitable “Look at That Sad Old Man wearing Trainers that are Too Young for Him”, glares; thoughts and comments.

Then I received an email from Amazon telling me that the previously much heralded delivery date for my shoes was to be put back for a further 7 to 10 days. Now a whole new exciting vista opened up — obviously there was an Amazon problem. Hopefully it was an Amazon Insurmountable problem and the trainers would not get delivered. This would then offer the very welcome scenario in which I could readily get my money back.

Most of the time I cannot be doing with being excited about the buying process. I am fairly old fashioned with this — I have ingrained Pre Set Entry Level purchaser faith. After all, I had ordered the shoes and they would surely arrive — that’s how it all worked wasn’t it ? So with considerable bad grace I meandered my way through the delivery tracking option. It happily told me that my purchase of cool dude trainer was indeed on its way. However, somewhat confusingly, these very same trainers also did not seem to have left the Fulfilment warehouse in Spain where they had initially set up home on an accurately labelled shelf in a vast but cosy EU based repository.

I used to deliver stuff in Europe myself when I was a young lorry driver so I am very aware that things can get ‘lost in transit’ especially when going across borders. Therefore I now resorted to journeying along the Yellow Brick Road which can lead you to Terms & Conditions on the Amazon website. It’s surprising when you eventually find out just what you did not know; and had no idea that you needed to know; when innocently attempting to purchase a pair of new shoes from a reputable Company.

It turns out that I am not an Amazon customer in this transaction at all — I am in fact a customer of an anonymous jumble of letters with the word Shop on the end. This bunch appear to be based in Spain but have a supplier address in Holland. Now lets be clear here, I am disappointingly aware that the UK has left the EU and; I recognise they may be a bit pissed off about this. But this is too much of a Euro run-around for my liking.

I am old enough to remember the days when getting your money back was akin to storming the Bastille on a weekend. No one was around to help you and no one would be in to give your your money back anyway. But wait there’s more — this is the 21st Century and us consumers have rights. But wait there’s more — I am not an Amazon customer so I need to go through this anonymous Initials+Shop bunch.

Turns out they are ahead of me — I send an irate email deploring the poor service and pointing out that the delivery is now some 22 days late. They email back with information that the British Postal service is to blame because they are on strike. I reply pointing out that our much maligned Post Office workers have only withdrawn their Labour for 1 day — and that was yesterday. Consequently they are unlikely to be the root cause of a 21 day delay.

Then, Oddletters+Shop send me a message through the Amazon website. Easily proceeding to demonstrate they are still way ahead of me. They state they will give me my money back if I fulfil one of two conditions. Either I send them a photo of a Return Slip (to show I have posted the shoes back) or I can confirm to the Driver that ‘I Refuse to accept this delivery’ when it arrives at my house.

Sounds reasonable dunnit? Until you spot the Catch 22.

I can’t post something back if it is not actually being delivered — and similarly I can’t refuse a delivery that is not going to arrive. I email back my observations to the ObscureInitials+Shop people and I wait.

And I wait.

Eventually I get another message from Amazon — giving me further info about claiming a refund. Then I get a message from the ‘+Shop’ bunch that my Trainers are still on their way. I am now properly full of doubt and I begin to consider if they were ever in the comfy EU fulfilment centre in the first place?

Watch this space — I am.

Oh, and this year we have a fine Real Plastic Everwhite Family Christmas Tree — which comes as a flat pack. And yes we did get it through Amazon in last years post Christmas clear out sale. The handily Arts Oriented Teen Daughter has now trimmed it with an accomplished decorative arrangement including the requisite Baubles; Balls; Tinsel and Lights.

The only downside is that the Fairy Lights have a control box with what seems like a million different settings. Except they all seem to be variations of Ferociously Frantic Flashing mode and then they turn themselves off when you are least expecting it.

Not very calming but it has intrigued our cats.

Be Well.

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Ray Massey

Intelligent, sensitive, humorous writer — new to this stuff. Offering life comments and observations from a Grumpy Old Man.