Forget the sales savings, keep your sanity instead

OPINION: What's the price of sanity?

For me, today, it's $20.

I've just lay-byed my daughter's main Christmas present, despite the fact it goes on sale in two days for $20 less than what I paid.

Why on earth would I do that? You may ask.

Well, clearly, you've never been to the toy sales.

Pamplona, Spain, has the Running of the Bulls.

The Fraser Coast (and probably the rest of Australia) has the annual department store toy sales.

If you've ever wanted to experience the rush of running for your life knowing that certain death, or at least a comprehensive mauling, is only one stumble away, but can't quite stump up the cash for a ticket to Spain, rise early Wednesday or Thursday morning and head down, catalogue in hand and game face on, to take on the Christmas lay-by crowd.

There may be no bulls to gore you to death but if you happen to take the last Lalaloopsy doll from the shelves there will be a group of mums waiting there to do it instead.

It's a little undignified to engage in hand-to-hand combat over discounted toys, isn't it?

I like a bargain as much as the next person but I'm a little disturbed at how seriously some people take it.

In the lead-up to the sales at two of our major department stores, I've seen various heated, aggressive messages from customers on the stores' Facebook pages regarding the sales … and that was just people wanting to know when they would get their catalogues.

If they're that hot under the collar about a catalogue, I dare not tread in front of them once the doors actually open and the bargain-hunting begins.

I went down on opening day of one of the sales a few years ago and never again.

I didn't have kids and had never been to the toy sales; wanted to get hubby a heavily discounted games console and thought I would slip in early, get what I wanted and get out, beat the crowds.

Ha. What a truly sheltered life I had lived.

I got to the store to find that hundreds of others had the same idea.

When the doors opened, I was carried inside with the crush of people and stood waiting nearly two hours to get the console.

If I'd been served on a first-come first-served basis I probably would have waited 15 minutes but because I didn't have the gall to push ahead like so many others I waited … and waited.

Got pushed and shoved.

Listened to people who'd only just walked in the door complain about having to wait.

Entertained a rather frazzled-looking woman's toddler so she could regain some composure.

Eventually a staff member decided the Brown's cows approach wasn't working and herded everyone into two orderly lines, nearly sending me to the back until I pleaded, along with a nice man and his son who'd been waiting there the same length of time, to be served ahead of those who'd pushed their way in five minutes earlier.

I won't be doing that again, especially with a child in tow this time.

Let's face it, a toy sale is no place for children.

No, I've coughed up the extra $20, still happy that I've saved a delivery fee of nearly $50 as the play kitchen I bought my daughter is only available online at other times of year.

If I go down on day two of the sale and there are still 25 of them sitting in the store, I'll just have to wear it.

That's the funny thing about those sales; go down the day after they open and most of the toys are still available and people aren't trying to kill each other to get them.

So that's when I'll do the rest of my Chrissy shopping.

If I miss out on anything I wanted, I miss out.

No doubt there are parents reading this and feeling a bit indignant, either because you go to the sales and most certainly do not act like the above-mentioned vultures, or because you go to the sales and do act like that and feel uncomfortable at having it pointed out.

I know there are plenty of polite, respectful people who go to the sales.

I'd like to hope I'm one of them.

Unfortunately though, the other type are the ones who stick in my mind but I guess they've got what they wanted: one fewer person to shove out of the way in the quest for … I don't know … Lego?

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