Technology may soon make men the equal of women - at the mall.
A tiny chip about the size of a grain of sand will, if all goes as expected, solve our aversion to shopping.
Last Friday was THE shopping day of the year, the day when half the nation's herd traditionally stampedes into the nearest discount mall to duke it out over the annual output of China.
The other half of the herd does something else. Me? I took a long wet walk through a regional park.
Don't get me wrong, I am not unsocial, just male.
While there are times when I prefer the company of people to flocks of duck, this was not one of them. I left the joy of stealing the last parking place at Sears to my wife and tramped off to stalk waterfowl with a high powered camera.
I can understand buying things, I just cannot understand shopping for things.
She, of course, is the exact opposite.
I will give you an example.
Every unspoken-for weekend in the summer, we tour the state. We go to a lake or follow a scenic river trail - and all such journeys inevitably end in a tourist town. Here she leaves me stranded on a park bench while she vanishes into the scented boutiques to sift through racks of T-Shirts and shelves of doodads. All the shops look the same to me, their wares festooned with gaudy designs or witty sayings, so I don't get it. But she understands the nuances of fashion and can, with the perfect eye of a trap-shooter, lead the trajectory of fad by six months and hit the mark with a gift.
That is talent
But it is more than that. She enjoys the doing of it: the perusing of shelves, the tactile sensation of goods, the symphony of colors, the scent of new things.
I, on the other hand, enjoy the not doing of it, preferring instead to read a mystery and listen for a cool beer to whisper "Come hither" from the darkness of a pub. Besides, I simply cannot comprehend why anyone would be thinking of Christmas in July.
As for buying gifts, my idea of shopping is to slide under a clattering grate at Sears on Christmas Eve and snatch up a hand full of gift cards.
All of this has it roots in evolutionary biology. Men are hunters. Their skill is to knock food on the head. Women in contrast, are gatherers. They take their joy in making the perfect selection from a garden of choices, hence the modern supermarket or shopping mall.
The only way that men have been able to keep up is technology.
Which brings us back to that little chip.
Coming soon to every object near you is a tiny radio transmitter about the size of a grain of sand. This technology is called Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).
What it does is enable everything in the store to constantly, and imperceptibly broadcast, "This is what I am. This is where I am".
Can you see the advantages?
Armed with this technology, men can roar into the mall at the last instant on Christmas Eve. They can abandon their cars in the designated Shopping Disabled Area, and with doors wide open and engine running, race into Sears, all the while honing in on their quarry with the Global Product Positioning System feature of their cell phones.
Once they have checked the last item off their list, they can bolt for the exit without hesitating at a cash register. Everything in their cart will be detected and registered by RFID at the receiving station by the door, as well as the transmitter embedded in their debit or credit card.
The only thing this technology will not do for men is decide what to buy -- but our best people are working on that.
Until then, there is always gift cards.
© Greg Schiller, 2008
Author: Greg Schiller
Feel free to rummage around my collection of essays and stories at Greg's Garage