Christmas Stalkings

One year, I took extreme measures to find the perfect Christmas gift.

We used to own a wholesale toy and school supply business. On Christmas Eve, my husband Danny would come home with a trash bag full of toys. We would spend hours wrapping the little gifts. Our children grew up and we sold the business. Soon I received my children’s Christmas lists which took me on quests encompassing much of the Denver Metro area.

One year, my son Kelly asked for a Playstation 2. It was the only item on his list. I thought, “Wow! This will be so easy this year. I’ll pick it up and buy a couple of small presents. DONE!”

PS4-Console-wDS4

Not so fast. I walked into Target and stood in front of an empty shelf. I asked the salesman when the next shipment was due to arrive. “We never know when they’re coming in.”  I drove to Best Buy and several other stores. The salespeople gave me the same response.

I started to panic. Where would I find the holy grail of Christmas gifts this year if they manufactured so few of them? I compiled a list of stores and started calling every day. I started recognizing the operator’s voices.

A few days later, I went through the phone book in search of smaller stores that may carry it. I called Game Stop at our local mall. It was a long shot, but I was desperate. Christmas was seven days away.

“We’ve been getting 4 or 5 of them a day.”

“Really? Can you hold one for me?”

He laughed. “No. They’re gone in seconds.”

“When do they usually come it?”

UPS delivers between 10:00 and 2:00.”

“Has your shipment already come in today?” I looked at the clock. It was almost noon.

651px-UPS_United_Parcel_Service_HTS_Systems

“Yep. They’re all gone.”

The next day, I drove out to the mall at 10:00 and walked into Game Stop. There were a few other shoppers milling around. “Has UPS delivered yet?”

“Nope.”

I hung around the small store for 30 minutes until I got antsy. I left and window shopped while watching for the man in brown.

After an hour, I made my way to the main mall and looked over the balcony. There he was! With huge strides, the young man hustled his packages in and out of the stores below. I ran down the stairs and rushed into the store after him. A salesgirl signed the his receipt. I followed him back out.

When he ducked into the next store, I pretended to be interested in sunglasses at a kiosk. By the time he stepped into a sixth store, I realized it would be a while before he made his way upstairs. Drawn in by a sweater in a store window, I shopped for a while. I peeked my head out. He had put a pretty good distance between us. I bolted after him. I tried to catch up while dodging shoppers. He headed for the elevator. I sprinted, but he was too fast.

Several yards ahead of me, the elevator doors closed. I took the stairs by twos. Shoppers threw me sideways glances. A throng of teenagers stood in the way. “Excuse me!” I yelled and slipped past them. I made it to the top of the stairs and scanned the stores. He popped out of one on the corner. Whew!

I stepped inside Game Stop and caught my breath. A line had already formed. The man ahead of me asked, “Are you waiting for a PS2?”

“Yes.”

“So are we.”

Dang! A few minutes later the UPS man delivered the precious cargo. I craned my neck to check out the boxes. The salesman signed for them and announced, “I have five to sell today, folks.”

The people behind me moaned. I counted six customers ahead of me. I held my breath.  The first asked for a video game. One down. The second and third bought PS2′s. I was so close, I could touch them! The third wanted a game. My heart soared.

“Looks like we got lucky,” the man ahead of me said and smiled.

“We did.” I beamed as I pulled out my credit card and paid.

Kelly still remembers the surprise of receiving that PS2 on Christmas morning.

kelly's PS2 002

This year, there are only two items on my son’s list. One of them is the Playstation 4. He works at Best Buy and sells these consoles to other happy customers.  He doesn’t get any preferential treatment. Recently, he stood in line for one, but they sold that last one to a woman in front of him.

Then I read the news that there may be shortages, I thought, “Here we go again.”  I planned to hit the mall and stalk the UPS guy again. I made some calls to other Game Stops in my area before I left.

The first one said, “You’re the 19th caller today. We’re keeping track this year. You can stop in at 2:00 to see if we got any in.”

The second I called was located in a mall slated for remodel. I didn’t know any stores were still open.  “Do you have any PS4′s?” I held my breath.

“We have a ton of them.”

I  jumped in the car and squealed my tires imagining people texting their friends to share this cache of good luck. I checked my speed several times while driving down the highway. A scant thirty cars were parked in the mall’s parking lot. A good sign. I raced past several shuttered shops to the store. It was packed with customers. “Do you have any PS4s?”

“Yep. You came to the right place.”

I can’t wait to see the smile on my son’s face this Christmas morning.

Have you ever had to go to great lengths to find the perfect gift?

PS4 and UPS image courtesy of Wikimedia

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About susielindau

I am a Boulder, Colorado writer and artist who loves adventure both real and imagined. Come with me. It's always a Wild Ride!
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66 Responses to Christmas Stalkings

  1. Pingback: Jumping for Joy! Literally… | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

  2. 4amWriter says:

    What a fun post! I am so glad it worked out for you — both times. So, how did he like the surprise?? :)

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    • susielindau says:

      It wasn’t a surprise after all. He works at Best Buy and wanted the Geek Squad coverage. He was super happy since he didn’t open it up until Christmas and I surprised him with a remote controller so a friend can play with him. It was a blast of a Christmas!
      Thanks!

      Like

  3. Nia Simone says:

    Merry Christmas, Susie!

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  4. What a hunt! I’m thoroughly impressed by your tracking skills. :)

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  5. I think those UPS guys get used to people tailing them around. A friend of mine used to have a Mall gift store during the beanie baby craze. She said customers would hang around the store waiting for shipments, or even follow the UPS truck around when there was a new character release. This sort of reminded me of that. Its weird this year, my kids have reached that age where they don’t want EVERYTHING anymore, they each basically had one request, not something inexpensive of course, and we’ll throw in a few things as a surprise. But it won’t be that unwrapping mania like when they were little. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family, definitely a year worth celebrating! :-)

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    • susielindau says:

      Great to see you! Thanks for stopping by.
      I was desperate that year, Others were on covert operations since they beat me in the line…I just got lucky!
      It is different as they get older. My daughter’s birthday is a couple days after, so that adds another challenge!
      I’m just glad this year is almost over and am anxious for 2014 to arrive. It was a great year for my family. :) Merry Christmas to you and your family!

      Like

  6. thecriticman says:

    Hope your son enjoys it, I have one myself and it is quite the awesome gift I must say. Very entertaining story.

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  7. Love this! It’s like that movie Jingle All the Way! But SLIGHTLY less violence and Arnold Schwarzenneger.

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  8. Great story!! Let me fill you in on a little secret. You will get a break on this task for a few years, but when grandchildren come along it’s “game on” again, so you better stay in shape. My mother actually climbed into the back of a Toys R Us tractor trailer in search of a red headed Cabbage Patch doll for my niece in 1982…she was 56 at the time.
    Make sure you share a picture of your grown Kelly’s face Christmas morning!

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  9. Cool Christmas story, Susie! It sounds like a Mr. Bean episode. How interesting that you still queue up if you sell them. Merry Christmas to your lovely family!

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  10. Did you have the Transfomers Toy sagas about 20 years ago Susie – when All family members flung across the UK to scour shops in order to ensure my sisters could give their sons the must have present for that year! It was a military operation!

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  11. Widdershins says:

    Best prezzie hunt story of the year … although, I reckon the closer we get to THE DAY, the really insane ones will start happening.

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  12. Angelia Sims says:

    Isn’t it amazing how they are always thhhhhhissss short on all those hot items. But hey, whatever gets the blood pumping, right? I will *never* forget the year we scored the IMPOSSIBLE to get “Tickle Me Elmo”. It was awesome. My two-year little girl made him laugh and laugh about two times. SMH. :-)

    Like

  13. i hope your son doesn’t read your blog, cuz that cat’s out of the bag now. Glad you got what you needed. I hope he appreciates your efforts.

    Happy holidays!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      He kinda already knows since he was going to buy it for himself at Best Buy where he works. I called and they didn’t expect them in until Sunday so the hunt was on.
      He came for dinner last night and I told him not to buy anything for himself before Christmas. He will still be happy to get it! He said he had to pay bills and couldn’t afford to treat himself to anything. It’s all good!!
      Happy Holidays to you!

      Like

  14. pegoleg says:

    My experience was nowhere as dramatic as yours. Having waited until the last possible second, with no time to order online, I had to call around to 4 stores and drive 20 miles to get the last Pokemon GoldHeart DS game yesterday…for my 21=year-old daughter.

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    • susielindau says:

      Hahaha! That is the same insanity. Didn’t it feel great when you drove home?? Last year Danny bought a piece of DJ equipment from a sketchy guy in a bad neighborhood in Denver! That was crazy, but it was legit, thank God!!!!
      Merry Christmas Peg!

      Like

  15. This is so funny, Susie. I can picture you hanging around the mall watching the UPS man! Was he cute, btw? :) Glad you scored both times! I remember when the George Foreman grills were big and my husband and I fought a woman at the mall for the last one! LOL.

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    • susielindau says:

      I remember that he was tall and had reeeeeeally long legs. He was so fast! I couldn’t keep up!

      I remember the George Foreman grills. That is hilarious! I can’t imagine you taking down some woman trying to snatch your grill. She got up in your grill so she deserved it! Hahaha!

      Like

  16. The Regular Guy NYC says:

    You are a crazy stalker terrific mom Susie! That story had me cracking up. You’re lucky the mall rent-a-cops did not tackle you and drag into mall jail!

    Like

  17. tedstrutz says:

    hahahahahahahah… Deja Vu!!! I just went thru this… for my Grandson… he’s 20 and in college… aren’t they supposed to be studying and preparing for life? Calling EVERYONE and getting the same answers… “Well we got 5 in yesterday”… “They come by FedX around 10″… HaHa you’re kidding right?. I finally got some info that Best Buy would put them on sale on Sunday morning when they opened at 10. Only problem… I live on an island. Red-eye ferry @ 5:45… drive to Burlington and wait in car… other cars arrive… run up to door with guy in car next to me to form a line… Big line ensues… 10 am… my grandson will have a happy Christmas, along with DJ Kelly Smash (or is it Slash?). I seem to recall doing something similar when X-Boxes came out, and the PS before that. Loved this post, Susie!

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    • susielindau says:

      Thanks Ted! It is so great to see you!
      DJ KSmash will be thrilled. He was going to buy the PS4 himself since he works full time at Best Buy. I called their store yesterday and they weren’t expecting any until Sunday. Way too risky!
      I told him not to buy himself anything before Christmas. I think he got the hint!
      Isn’t it insane???? But so worth it to get the perfect gift! Your grandson will be thrilled!!!!
      Merry Christmas Ted!!!!

      Like

  18. tomwisk says:

    Susie, you are a wonderful mom.

    Like

  19. Jessica says:

    Awesome job, Susie! I worked at Target the year the Wii was the console and my mother (yes, my mother!) just had to have one. I got no preferential treatment either even though our stockroom had a TON that weren’t on the shelves. I ended up enlisting one of my employees to get me one from Best Buy when he did his own Black Friday shopping while I was stuck pulling a 12-hour shift. I paid more than retail for that damn thing, but my mom LOVED it and still loves it. I’ve never seen a parent so excited for a console in all my life, but it was worth it to see her rock out on Guitar Hero.

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Hahaha! What a great story!! You should blog about it!
      Your mom would love it. Christmas is all about finding that perfect gift. I know that’s not supposed to be the main focus, but I love the smiles on Christmas morning.
      ….still laughing while imagining your mom rocking out! Love it!

      Like

  20. marydpierce says:

    Never underestimate the determination and ingenuity of a loving Mom. That sounds like a (pair) of stories that will be handed down for ages. Bravo, Susie! I haven’t had to hunt like that, but one year my son camped out all night in front of a Best Buy so he could get a Wii. He was 16 or 17 and wanted the thrill for himself. Like you, he scored the last one. Mission accomplished.

    Have a WILD Christmas!! :-)

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      That is so true! We will do almost anything to find the perfect gift and see smiles on our kids faces.
      That is so great about your son! I bet he remembers the nervousness too!
      Thanks Mary and Merry Christmas to you! I am looking forward to some Wild Times! :)

      Like

  21. colonialist says:

    That showed real dedication and perseverance. I hope the appreciation was, and will be, commensurate with the effort!

    Like

  22. John says:

    Great story Susie, I hope you and the family have a blessed CHRISTmas this season. :)

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  23. viveka says:

    I have heard other stories about the PS and X-box for Christmas through the years – and how people have been chasing for the perfect gift *smile – very touching and sweet story, Susie. I buy my gift during the whole year, when I see something … that would make somebody happy. Have no children to consider.

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      That’s a great way to do it. Now that my children are in their twenties, it is a lot easier in some ways, since what they want is more expensive. That search could have been a nightmare. I am so lucky!
      Thanks so much Viveka!

      Like

      • viveka says:

        Susie, you don’t look old enough to have children in the twenties … now you only have to wait for the grandchildren and their gifts.
        I feel sorry for parents at times .. because the gifts are getting more and more expensive and newer models are released every Christmas.

        Like

  24. EagleAye says:

    Wow! You are an awesome mom! At least you didn’t have to get into any fist fights to get one.

    Like

  25. The Hook says:

    In this day and age of web consumerism, the thrill of the physical shopping chase eludes me, I’m afraid.
    Although, I have spent some time tracking down Monster High dolls for Sarah in the not-so-distant past.

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      I’m not familiar with those dolls. It has been a while since I bought any! You know how frustrating it can be. Last year, I did almost all my shopping online. This year I had to hoof it again! I’ll be back to cyber shopping in 2014. It is so much easier!
      Thanks Hook!

      Like

      • The Hook says:

        Thank you, Susie – again!

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        • Monster High dolls! I saw some recently on a store shelf and thought “Wonder if Hook has managed to grab what he needs for Sarah.” I just knew they must be on her list…
          The older they get the more difficult…they only want 1 or 2 things and those are always the most impossible to find.
          I probably still have bruises from the Cabbage Patch Dolls mania (foud 2 with the right colored hair and one sent ASAP to sister-in-law..we had a pact – whomever found them first…)
          Jingle on and Merry Christmas!

          Like

          • susielindau says:

            Wow! I have not heard of those dolls, but I will have to Google them! I think we’ll go to great lengths to bring happiness to others this time of year.
            Merry Christmas to you and your family Phil!

            Like

  26. This brings to mind the year Cabbage Patch kids were so popular. I was working in retail for Christmas and it was crazy every time we got a shipment. People were bringing them back from overseas and selling them for a fortune.

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  27. what a sweet story… just sweet… great mum you are susie.

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  28. Great story Susie. One year we chased a dance program for Wii. Thought it was going to end up in the ER.

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Hahaha! I believe it! I think it was Guitar Hero that was almost sold out one year and I drove everywhere to find it. GAH! It can take so much time! I can’t believe my luck!
      Thanks so much John!

      Like

  29. PinotNinja says:

    Kelly is one lucky kid with an awesome mom! I am actually in the midst of an absolutely caper of insanity to get an emergency life raft for my brother’s boat as a Christmas gift — the saga is ongoing and the story will be hitting the blog once he hopefully receives his gift next week, so I won’t spoil it, but it involves a potential serial killer, hazardous materials, a long-distance trucker found on facebook, and a 70 lbs gym bag.

    Like

  30. Ally Bean says:

    The first year that Tickle Me Elmo was out, my nephew wanted it– and only it for Christmas. My SIL couldn’t find one in her small town many states away so she begged me to start looking for one.

    Eventually I figured out about the same thing that you did– that is, you have to stalk the stores daily– and I grabbed one at 7:00 a.m. at a Toys R Us on the other side of the city.

    I was so thrilled to get it that I didn’t mind that it cost more for me to ship it to my nephew than it did to buy it. Something about the thrill of the hunt & victory, you know! Plus he was a happy kid that year.

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      That is so true! The thrill of the hunt is everything. I read once where we get an endorphin rush from shopping. I believe it! I was pumped up while carrying my prize out to the car!
      Thanks for reading!

      Like

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