Shopping With Dr. Sheldon Cooper

, , , , | Right | November 13, 2018

(I have an autistic friend. We are actually both autistic but in very different ways; I’m much better at dealing with practical household things — like setting up a TV or 5.1 sound system–  than he is, whereas he is much better at the everyday essentials like work, money, and bills than I am. Between us, we manage okay. Like many on the spectrum, my friend finds certain everyday environments, such as his workspace, cold and distressing, so I’ve been helping him make a “safe space” for himself at home. Basically, it’s a lot of relaxing mood lighting with speakers and a monitor so he can watch video or listen to music from his media devices in a space he finds soothing. It’s my first attempt, so I’ve initially been using cheap Chinese equipment ordered online until I’m sure it’s what he wants and it all works, and, as is often the case with cheap Chinese imports, some of it fails pretty quickly. We decide to go shop at a local high street store that sells similar items, now that we know for sure what it is we need. In the store, a smiling assistant approaches us:)

Me: “Oh, hi. We’re just looking for your home lighting section.”

Friend: “We’d normally order things like this from China for a fraction of what you guys sell it for here, I’m sure, but we need it quickly today, so we came here, instead!”

Me: *embarrassed* “Oh.” *laughs* “[Friend], yes, well, I don’t think this gentleman really needs to know that. Let’s just go get the things we need today, shall we?”

(The store assistant looks a little wide-eyed, but duly directs us. My friend is easily distracted by all the flashing, beeping technology on display, but I manage to get us over to the correct section. We find what we need and head off to the counter. My friend is paying, so he is talking to the cashier now.)

Friend: “We need these because ours broke, so we need more. Before, my friend here got them all from China for half the price you guys sell them for here, but they’re all the same things, really, I think, aren’t they? You guys probably just put your logo on them and charge double the price; I know how things like this work. But still, you charge a lot more for them here, don’t you?!”

Me: *losing it a bit now* “Ahahaha! Yes, well, as I said, [Friend], I don’t think he needs to know all that. Let’s just pay the poor man and then go, shall we?!”

(The now rather put-upon-looking cashier dutifully bags and charges our items as my friend continues to “make small talk” in this vein. Other customers begin to take an interest, and a small crowd is forming; however, somewhat relieved on my part, we get the receipt and head for the door, but unfortunately not before my friend spots another rather large and particularly expensive item we both recognise from the same Chinese site.)

Friend: *loudly* “Oh, look! Another thing you could get for less than half the price from [Site] online! I bet that’s the exact same thing, just with their logo on it again. Boy, they charge a lot more in here than [Site], don’t they?! You could get that for [price] on [Site], couldn’t you?”

(I stopped for a moment to look at it with him as he continued in this vein. Frankly, I died a little inside, as other customers mentally jotted down the site name and price; one actually got out his smartphone and seemed to be checking the site out. I rolled my eyes at the store assistants apologetically, but very quickly, and at my insistence, we headed off out to the car, leaving the store assistants to deal with the aftermath. Guys who attended to us that day, if you’re reading this, I am so sorry! If we have to come back for any more things soon — I’m pretty sure we will — if it helps at all, he’s actually a scientist in a very well-paid job — yes, just like Sheldon Cooper — and so has lots of disposable cash to spend in your store. He just isn’t very good at thinking before he speaks. Next time, I’ll try and stop him yelling out that site name and the entire price range he’s got memorised in his head at your potential customers, if I possibly can. Trust me, I will try.)

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