Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Way the World Works

Have you ever gone to a road race? There is one thing that is certain to happen at literally every single road race that is ever planned: they will not have your shirt size. This is absolutely the case 100% of the time. No exceptions whatsoever. They will, however, have hundreds of t-shirts that are 2 sizes larger than anyone could possibly ever wear who would be interested in running a road race. They will have exactly 0 smalls, 4 mediums, 75 larges, 2,000 XLs, and roughly 8 million XXL-XXXLs (and this all despite the fact that only 200 people registered to run). And I am absolutely positive that nobody who has ever run a road race has ever wanted anything larger than a large and 98% would prefer a small. This is even more ridiculous when the race is a marathon (although maybe not as I am regularly passed in marathons by overweight middle-aged men who don't seem to be straining themselves--this is depressing for many reasons, not the least of which is that this is evidence that regular exercise is no guarantee, apparently, of anything. Interestingly in last year's marathon the large group of overweight middle-aged men were all dressed as the Statue of Liberty. I never did find out why this was the case but I was embarrassed for humanity).

Races don't have the market cornered on nonsensical order decisions. I am always floored that in every store I ever enter I can find a pretty similar ratio of clothing items. Some have argued that surely the store ordered an equal number of sizes initially and the smaller sizes just sold more quickly because the smaller sizes fit actual people. To this I have two responses: first, this does not explain why the ratios are so imbalanced even when the item is clearly new, and second, if it really is the case that the normal sizes are selling more quickly, then why on Earth wouldn't the store order more in those sizes in the first place?

And these stores have other problems as well: I went to Sears recently. At least I think I did. I pulled up to a large building that looked like it had been shot-out during the Civil War. When I walked in I had the distinct impression that this store had been shut-down in 1985 and they just forgot to lock the doors. I noticed a sign pointing me to the appliances, which apparently were located in the basement. When I got there and asked spandex lady with a Sears name tag where a certain item might be located, she informed me that that appliance was on the third floor with some of the other appliances (all of this amid cackles, the source of which I never really understood). When I arrived on the third floor after walking up the escalator (yes, walking. It of course was not working at the time) I searched for a while until I found butterfly eyelashes girl who was about 40 years younger than spandex lady but equally helpful. Butterfly eyelashes girl nodded and assured me that what I was looking for was located in the basement. Feeling like I was well on my way to getting caught in an eternal loop (and at Sears, the happiest place on Earth), I explained to her what spandex lady had told me (but without the mysterious cackles) to which butterfly eyelashes responded, "well . . . it sounds like you figured out that we don't have any then." I know I just gave one out recently, but I would like to officially award butterfly eyelashes the Tellin'-it-like-it-is-award. She seems like the type who has probably earned it every day of her life.

Because I'm the easiest customer in the world to please, I'm sure I'll go back. Maybe they have a pile of XXL t-shirts I can dig through.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. I especially hate the too-large t-shirt problem, when ahead of time, you have filled out a form on which you state the size of t-shirt you'd like. Why do they even bother asking that question if they are only going to order XXLs? Did the t-shirts just fall off the back of the track so they decided to use those instead of order the sizes people actually want?

    Don't tell lies, Eli. You didn't go to Sears. No one goes to Sears. I should know - I used to work there.

  2. They order those T-shirts because of people like me, sadly. I'm so tall that I have to wear XL's even though by girth I could fit into a medium. Except, if I wore a medium, I'd look like I was a teenage girl with my belly button hanging out instead of a thirty something dad with enough kids to field a few sports teams. And that would be creepy. They NEVER want to run out because they would rather make you wear too big of a shirt than ever see my belly button and have their eyes burned out of their skull. Sorry. :)