I have noticed a trend as I've gotten older, one that does not seem to want to go away. Seems that more and more, I'm having to actually dress up nicely to go places. I'm lead to believe that it is professional to dress up, be it for school/future career related events, or various other odd events.

When I was younger, I used to love to dress up. After about age five, I came to my senses, and from then on detested the notion of wearing anything other than my "comfy" clothes.

Recently, I have had to break down and wear nice clothes. I have discovered that this is not all that bad. When I'm tidied up and people tell me I look nice, it's not such a bad feeling. And when I meet new people, I have to catch myself before accidently saying "I'm Bond, James Bond."

Okay, so the Bond part isn't entirely true.

Anyway, here's the catch (you knew there had to be one): you have to go shopping for the clothes. I'm almost certain I register on the world's "Top 100 Worst Shoppers of All Time" list. When I have to go shopping, it had best be quick, unless I'm shopping for books, music, or stereo equipment.

Thanks to all the occasions that seem to be creeping up on me at which I need decent attire, I had to break down and expand my wardrobe. So after the holidays, I hit the stores because I know that's when everything is on sale dirt cheap.

I went to J.C. Penny, and shortly afterward walked out of the store with two brand new pairs of Dockers pants. I somehow managed to make it through the fitting room stage, and everything checked out fine, and off I went, feeling good that I had landed myself some nice pants and gotten a damn good deal on them as well.

Well, the weeks passed, and because school was not yet in session, and at work I was only allowed to wear one color of pants, I did not have an opportunity to really use my new Dockers. No problem, right?

Wrong. I go to use one new pair for the first time, and it all starts out well. But you know, there's a big difference between wearing a pair of pants for 90 seconds in the fitting room and wearing them around all day.

Long story short, my new pants were not cut right, and so I spent the day in extreme discomfort, cursing them silently. Turns out both pairs had a vendetta against me, knowing that I would have to take them back.

And so yesterday, I trudged back to J.C. Penny in the hopes of exchanging them. I went to Customer Service, and after haggling over the receipt, I was given a full refund. I then commenced in my quest to find the same pants, only in a more suitable size.

It is here that I began to curse clothes manufacturers (those fuccant jerks!). I had cut off and disposed of the tags from my former pants, and so was unsure what specific style to pick out. Were they the ProStyle? The Relaxed Fit? The Casual with crease, or without?

I was at a loss. Desperate, I made my best guess, and took the plunge. I picked out two more pairs of pants, made sure to try them on (envisioning future comfort as I did so), and then proceeded to the counter to check out. As it turns out, luck was not in my favor. The pants I had chosen were different, and so I could not get the same unbeatable deal I had previously.

Determined to accomplish my mission, I ventured again into the abyss of Dockers products, tossing items and not caring what became of them. I had to find the right pants!

After a time, I felt I had emerged victorious, and returned again to the counter. The clerk rang me up, but again hit me with the news that I would be unable to get the same deal. I interrogated her further, and learned that she was comparing the names of items to those on the receipt. I looked at the receipt. It said: Dockers Dress Pants.

Aha! The clerk saw that and told me to go get the "Dress Pants" line of Dockers, and all would work out. At this point, I had an epiphany. I burst out, "There's no actual 'Dress Pants' line, though! That's just a generic name for Dockers! They're dress pants!" Without hesitating, she looked at me and said "Well, I can't give you the sale price because these don't say dress pants."

It was at this point that I was ready to tear my hair out in frustration, but I retained my composure. I resolved that this would be the last try, and then I would buy the damn pants. No more standing in line, no more arguing over ridiculous names, no more saying I picked a different color ("oh, that's two shades too dark, sorry") so that I could be denied my pants.

I went back, dropped off one pair and then grabbed another which, despite the fact that it was "different" from the ones I had originally bought, were at least on sale. I again returned to line.

As I predicted, the lady would not let me pay the same price as before, but I was so tired that no longer cared. I wanted to get my pants and get as far away from that place as I could. I was through. So I grumbled, paid for my purchase, and left. I am determined to use the pants well, and make the most of them. I'm not about to let the store, or the manufacturers, to get the better of me.

The thought crossed my mind that perhaps this was some ploy, to turn more of a profit. Surely that is possible: make the customer as frustrated as possible, i.e. by making him run around the store like a chicken with its head cut off (preferably more than one time), to drain his energy by making him spend more time in the store. He'll get so wound up he'll do whatever it takes to get what he needs and get the heck out of there.

If this is the case, it sure worked on me. Sheesh.