Today is Black Friday, the day where we people of all ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds, come together the day after Thanksgiving, to act behave like a bunch of wild animals. I’m not judging, because the truth is, as despicable as a lot of this behavior is, I will admit, I do enjoy reading the stories and finding out where the latest herd of cattle stampeded over one of their own in order to get forty-five dollars off of a four year old game system. It’s disgusting and hilarious and if you are one of the people behaving in this manner, then I have no problem calling you and Black Friday as a whole, ridiculous and idiotic. That being said, I’ve been Black Friday shopping before.
It was Thanksgiving night, 2012, and my wife and I had just finished eating dinner at the home of my brother-in-law’s wife in Port St. Lucie, Florida, a town that might sound glamorous, but is not, and one I wouldn’t recommend visiting if you can avoid it, but that’s not the point. We were sitting around the table, stomachs full of turkey, and my brother-in-law’s wife was talking about all of the sales she was going to go to that night and in the early hours of the next morning, apparently an avid Black Friday shopper, and it all sounded so exciting, rushing from store to store in search of great deals. So we started looking at the ads and picking out gifts that we could get people for Christmas that were a lot a cheaper than normal, and there were some small kitchen appliances that we were in need of, so we decided that perhaps this whole Black Friday thing was for us, and off we went.
We made two stops that night, at Walmart and Macy’s, not because these were the only two stores that had sales on items we were interested in, but because the experiences at these two hellholes were completely draining, both physically and mentally, that we couldn’t stomach the notion of stopping anywhere else to shop. We hit Walmart first, because we knew exactly what we were looking for there, kitchen appliances, and I should have realized as soon as I entered the parking lot that this whole Black Friday thing was a mistake, because it was packed, so much so that despite circling the lot twice, I couldn’t find a parking spot, and had to park across the street at the Golden Corral, which was beckoning with warm lights through the window and smells of a roasted turkey coming from within, but we were on a mission, so we turned our backs to the happiness, and trudged across the street into the mayhem.
I hate going to the store on a normal day because of all the idiots pushing carts in different directions, standing in the middle of aisles on their phones keeping people from being able to get to the products they are shopping for, so I should have known that Black Friday was going to be a nightmare. We had a shopping cart, but soon wished we had tried to brave it without one as the aisles were so jam packed with people and pallets full of sale items that it was complete madness just trying to maneuver our cart down one of the big aisles, like salmon swimming upstream against the current of other shoppers coming towards us. We finally found the items we were looking for, a toaster oven, coffeepot, blender, and a dartboard, which wasn’t on the list but I saw it in passing and wanted to get it (it’s still in the box five years later), and headed for the checkout lanes. The lines were so long that I actually said something to my wife about cutting our losses and just leaving. Sure we got some deals on small kitchen appliances and an awesome dartboard, but was it really worth standing in line for that long? Surely my time was more valuable than that. We stayed, and within the hour we were pushing our cart out the door and through the parking lot, across the street to the Golden Corral.
I was ready to call it a night, but we hadn’t actually accomplished what we’d set out to accomplish when we decided t begin this horrific journey at the dinner table a few hours before. We still hadn’t gotten any Christmas gifts for anyone yet, and since I didn’t think my brother would be too fond of a cheap blender, we went on the mall, planning to spend the night there going from store to store, racking up great deals and getting a good chunk of our Christmas shopping done. We started at Macy’s. As soon as we went through the sliding glass doors we were met with a dinging sound and a voice over the intercom talking about an employee who had just earned a certain amount of magical points for hitting a sales quota, informing the masses who didn’t care, that this individual had leveled up and were now in contention for some prize that I’m sure even the employee himself, wasn’t too impressed with. This continued every few seconds, lauding their employees while driving the shoppers crazy. We found a few gifts, enough so the night didn’t seem like a complete waste, and got out of there as quickly as the crowd would allow. That was my first and last time Black Friday shopping, and I don’t plan to ever do it again.