Phonic Crusade

Posted on Saturday 7th October 2006 at 00:00
Today I decided I wanted to buy a stereo.
For some reason despite acquiring/stealing/buying/being given pretty much every electronic consumer gadget in existence over the years I've apparently managed never to own a stereo, the most basic and essential power drinking, eardrum shattering item in most peoples? bedrooms since they were old enough to afford a CD with their pocket money. Takes quite a lot of talent that, don't you think?
It isn't that I'm some sort of music hating cretin or that I lost my ears in an unfortunate childhood waterskiing accident, it is just that I've always found substitutes. Most radio stations have been broadcasting on the internet since the 56k modem was first invented and being a lifelong computer addict it always made more sense to listen to MP3s rather than CDs. Actually my CD collection is very small and contains many embarrassing additions that I really hope I never paid good money for.
Somehow though, no amount of computer power quite matches the ultimate coolness of having a stereo blaring away while you are doing whatever you do around the house. So, I ignored the little voice in the back of my head telling me that I just wanted to comfort shop and set out for the shops. I'd already done a quick check of the internet and discovered that Argos were doing my dream stereo for a reasonably acceptable price.
I chose my local out of town shopping centre with the vague idea half formed in my mind that I could buy one or two other essentials, have lunch and visit the cinema while I was there. You know, really make a day of it. Something about spending days and days doing nothing but uni work and chores makes me want to go out for the day and spend lots of money I don't have. Anyone else get that?
The stereo was going to be quite heavy both on my wallet and on my arms carrying it around so I decided to warm up with a trip to Smiths and then Virgin where I found myself buying A Clockwork Orange and Monty Python's Meaning of Life for about '4 each. I'm beginning to see how my DVD collection has become so inexplicably large now. I must be up to at least 70 films, though I can't be bothered to stop and count them just now.
Lunch followed as it often does and then I set off to buy my new pride and joy. It should perhaps be noted that when I first typed that sentence I wrote that I set off to buy my new bride. It seems that I'm still not fully recovered from watching 'Diary of a Mail Order Bride? on Channel 4 the other night. *sigh*
I got to Argos and headed straight for the catalogue to check the code for the stereo, which was promptly typed into the stock checker. To my utter dismay there were none in stock, just a message telling me to go to the checkout and ask them to check other local stores.
Sod that! I thought and walked out. I'd remembered that there is another Argos not 10 miles away along nice fast roads that would be bound to have it. I could make it there and back and still have time to go to the cinema before the day was out.
Fast roads around here are notable for the someone annoying attribute that they are always clogged up with other peoples? cars and so are not even slightly fast on a Saturday afternoon but I wasn't about to let this put me off my quest for superior sound quality.
20 minutes later I was dodging cars and pedestrians (and one blind old man who tried to reverse into me while I was sat behind him in a queue) to get to a parking space not too far from the store. It is at times like this that I really appreciate just how many people there are in the world, ie a lot. I get into the store and run straight to the stock checker, typing in the now memorised catalogue number as quickly as my fingers would allow me.
Bugger! Sold out again, and the same mocking message telling me to go to the checkout. This time I took the hint and queued for about a million hours to speak to someone about getting my poor stereo. After reading off a load of stores I didn't know exist, the girl who served me finally mentioned the only other store in the area I knew the way to, another 10 miles or so in a direction I didn't want to go.
Really I should have left it by this point and admitted my defeat, but sometimes you just can't give in, so I nodded with a degree of resignation and had her reserve it for me while I drove all the way into city centre, searched for a car park that wasn't packed full and went to join the long queues once again while muttering rude things about Argos and its staff under my breath.
Was it worth it all? Well I'm sitting here now with the Scissor Sisters blaring out of the compact little speakers and the cool blue digital display showing me the frequency of a local radio station I've become particularly fond of hearing while in the car and you know what? It feels good :-)

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