The Black Friday Blues

Posted by admin - 25/11/11 at 11:11 am

(On yet another Black Friday, here’s my column from last year.)

My wife and I foolishly woke up early the day after Thanksgiving and thought we’d check out some of the sales. We left the house about 4:30, headed to the area of town where we could check out our Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and those kinds of stores.

Ha-HA! What foolish, misguided, yuletime schleps we were. We arrived in time to park out by the highway and run to get in line behind the other thousands of people also lined up to buy one of the six sale televisions.

Now, I realize waking up when the stores are scheduled to open is a fool’s errand. To get any kind of value out of Black Friday, you have to eat your Thanksgiving dinner while sitting under a bubble tent in the doorway of a Target. If you’re committed to spending Thanksgiving night in a warm bed, you’re fooling yourself. You might as well just tell your loved ones you’ll be buying their Christmas gifts at the gas station again, and ask them what kind of breath mints are their favorite.

We made our way into the Target, where I quickly realized it had become Thunderdome in sweatpants.

As I raced towards the electronics section of the store, I followed a woman pushing a buggy like she was about to storm a castle door. In her zeal, she lurched to one side and clipped a rack of sale clothes, sending it spinning like a top into the teen section. She didn’t even look up, she kept single-mindedly driving towards her goal.

At that moment, I realized she didn’t care what she hit. It wasn’t that it was just clothes, it could have been an old woman in a wheelchair, a paralyzed war veteran limping along with an IV rack, anything.

I’m a bit ashamed to say it but realizing the opportunity, I followed that woman like she was my blocking fullback as she cut a path through the carnage.

I got to electronics at about 5:04, where I found empty shelves bearing the price tags of every single thing on our list. People were pushing buggies all over the store with multiple televisions, proudly showing off their trophies. We decided to fight the crowds in reverse order, retreat to the parking lot, and go somewhere else.

Best Buy had a line out front like it was some sort of free-beer-and-women-geekapalooza, so we decided not to bother.

We wound up at Wal-Mart, where I learned to appreciate the forward-thinking folks at Target who at least tried to organize lines and checkout aisles with ropes. Shopping at Wal-Mart was like watching two thousand people all try and run through a door at once.

New place, same problem. All of the big ticket items were gone, as we expected. We put some small items in the buggy like DVDs, a jump drive, some pajamas for the kids on the list, and a couple of other little things.

Then we got to the front of the store, where by estimation, we were going to be the seven-hundredth people waiting on check-out. I looked at the line of people, then looked at my buggy. A question came to my mind, and I think it’s one we all should ask ourselves.

“Do I really want to wait in a Springsteen-ticket-sized-line just to save two dollars on a DVD?”

No, no I didn’t. We left the buggy and escaped into the parking lot to freedom. A quick breakfast later, we both were nestled in our beds, while visions of McGriddles danced in our heads.

The Black Friday sale is no longer the cute, hidden sale for the industrious folks who don’t mind giving up their Friday mornings to wait in line. Now it’s a birthright of the truly insane, the people who’ll give up 24 hours of their time to wait in the cold to save fifty bucks on a television.

Stores used to pass out hot coffee and doughnuts to people waiting, now there’s too many to be nice. They herd them into lines so the Christmas season doesn’t start with a trampling, a fistfight, or an impaling upon the horns of a plastic Rudolph.

— Reid Kerr will buy stuff online this year. Or just give out Milk Duds. Milk Duds are always a good gift.

One Response to “The Black Friday Blues”

  1. Reid About It » Blog Archive » Black Friday, I’m In Love says:
    November 25th, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    […] experience we’ve come to know as “Black Friday” now begins on Thursday night, I revisited my earlier pledge to never go back out and subject myself to the angry, desperate, bargain-hungry […]

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