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EST. May 2000 (AD)




Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Box?

By Geri Hoekzema

You know the feeling: the cupboards are bare, the bank account's even barer, and the time you've postponed has arrived. You must go shopping at one of those enormous big-box discount grocery outlets because you can't afford the civilized little Safeway on the corner. Nor can you continue feeding your kids Raman noodles with melted peanut butter and call it Thai food.

You've got to do it for them. But the thought of confronting huge expanses of aisles and dodging carts pushed by bargain-crazed shoppers makes you cringe. According to Dr. Mary Trip, Ph.D., You may be a victim of a recently discovered disorder called Boxophobia, the fear of shopping in large warehouse-like stores. Boxophobia has several variations:

1. The fear of choice. If you are able to enter the store but find yourself frozen in the soup aisle, staring at all twelve brands and muttering "I can't decide. It's just too much," this is you.

2. The fear of your car being t-boned by a parking lot road rager. Admittedly this fear is not entirely unfounded since navigating a parking lot the size of six football fields is statistically more dangerous than bungee jumping while climbing Mt. Everest.

3. The fear of aggressive fellow shoppers. If you're naturally shy to begin with, this fear makes you utter things like, "Oh that's okay. It's only my foot and the cart really isn't that heavy."

4. The fear of the checkout process. If you can't sprout three extra arms, then loading groceries on the conveyer belt, bagging them and writing a check simultaneously can be intimidating.

Dr. Trip assures us that although Boxophobia can be paralyzing, you can conquer it by following these steps:

1. Start with your self-image. The morning of the shopping trip, look into the mirror, make eye contact with yourself and repeat an affirmation such as "I am a competent and powerful shopper," "I deserve shopping success as much as the next girl," or "The Universe is generous and will provide me the strength I need for this endeavor."

2. Prepare. Get a good night's sleep the night before, drink a triple espresso for breakfast, and wear a power outfit - something that says "I mean business. Fear me."

3. Choose a strategic parking space, close enough to the store for easy access but far, far away from any 1977 Pintos containing growling Rotweillers or cars with stickers saying, "I brake for gnomes."

4. Walk into the store with your head held high and shoulders thrown back. Push your cart as if you're maneuvering a tank. Bluff your way through tight squeezes and tense situations. Chances are, the other gal will back down - just like you used to do.

5. Learn how to assess checkout lines and bypass the ones likely to attract the shopper who spends fifteen minutes unloading two tons of goods, meticulously counts out change, then announces "Oh, I seem to be two dollars short. I'll need to remove something."

If you try these measures and find you require further assistance, log onto the official "Box Angels" website, where you can request a highly trained and compassionate volunteer to accompany you to the store.

©2005 Geri Hoekzema


Geri Hoekzema is a teacher/writer/mom/wife who spends her spare time successfully avoiding large-scale shopping endeavors.



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