I’ve been traveling quite often to the south lately. Each and every trip, I go to some mall, looking for that good deal. In every mall or Walmart, I’ve bumped into hundreds of Cree, roaming and searching for the things we can’t get back home for the Christmas Season.

I’ve tried to keep track of everybody I see and count them, and today, out of four trips, the count has reached 500 people I’ve observed doing the quick and dirty down every other aisle, quickly grabbing the precious goods that just can’t seem to be bought up north (except for highway robbery prices, less tax).

Take for instance, the Wii, a new game console from Nintendo, (one of my favourite underdog game setups), which cannot be found in any quantity in any store. I just happenedto replace my debit card, now worn out at many a retail outlet, and headed out to the nearest electronic shop with hopes of securing the treasured game. Nada, nada nada. No chance at all.

I witnessed a brawl over the last Wii console and after asking the sales person about the chance of getting one, he just laughed in my face like I didn’t know anything about having fun. “There’s not one Wii left in Montreal and don’t bother looking for one because they are pretty well sold out across the country,” he declared.

Knowing this, I wondered if I will ever get the one machine I traveled 1,800 kilometres to obtain. I slouched off to look at the unsold Xbox 360s still clinging to the shelves, and winced at the price of what is possibly one of the most powerful pieces of computing power on the market today. What choice but to get yesterday’s fad?
Then I discovered Paypal and all the little conveniences that comes with it. First of all, no blisters on my feet from racing around after work to get to yet another store and no body odour from the constant stream of sweat from wearing northern clothing in the summer-like weather of the south. No taxis to be concerned with and no chance of getting lost in someone else’s back yard.

Sure, it’s nice to take off to different places and meet one Cree after another, some you never see in your home town unless at public gatherings or events. But heck, shopping is shopping. Whichever way you look at it, it becomes a body-wracking expedition that hardy men can barely withstand.

Carrying bags of shopping is now becoming an athlete’s ambition, the new training ground for those who portage for miles during summer canoe trips. It provides an educational experience in negotiations (usually referred to as haggling) and a perfect way to learn accounting. Quite likely, certain political expressions abound when the tax card comes out and you learn that it’s not respected in this retail outlet, leaving you fuming for that 13.5 per cent until the cows come home.

Whatever way I look at the new way of shopping, somehow I feel that this type of on-line shopping takes the fun out of traveling. But the more I think about it, it leaves more of a chance to enjoy the other things in the south, like movies and restaurants, sushi and talking about the fine art of feng shui, smoked barbeque Chinese duck or just a big Mac at McDonnie’s.

I hope that one day, the virtual mall will take over and leave the pain out of shopping in malls.