Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Freakdom

In the past, I worked Black Fridays.  The past couple of years I've been in the States, I've actually gone out on Friday... last year for a specific sale at Alpine Shop and this year... I went to Walmart.

Now, before you chide me on my conspicuous consumerism, the trip was purely anthropological.  The Morgans clan and I just wanted to see the chaos... and take the off-chance of getting pepper-sprayed in the process.  Sure enough, when we arrived at 10.15 on Thursday night, we had to park across Hwy 24 from the store.  There were cars lined up and down the shoulder.  Once we schlepped across the road and got inside, the craziness was amazing.

But, before we get into all of that, did you notice what time we got there?  What should T-Day be?  A day of family and gratefulness, right?  Not in post-modern America.  The country that invented a national holiday of thankfulness has officially usurped it for deeply discounted sheets and shop-vacs (one of which I did end up taking home).  The first sales at Walmart started at 8PM.  Toys-R-Us started at midnight.  In one year, we jumped from 4AM door openings to 8PM the night before!  This is troubling to me... it means that soon, we'll have turkey dinners given away free in the parking lots while we wait in line for the high-noon scramble for Elmo and Cuisinart goodies.  

Thanksgiving?  Short of us dropping our deep-seated angst over bargain basement bounty, it's gone, America.

But, back to the event at hand... there were no carts when we walked in and the wall to shelf mass of humanity was so incredible, I laughed out loud.  It works like this:  At preset times, pallets of shrink-wrapped merchandise are delivered to specific areas around the store, usually in the main "Alleys."  Workers stationed throughout the store have maps to direct die-hard shoppers to their desired discount landing zones.  Once the pallets arrive, the shrink-wrap is stripped away to the magpie tune of panicked shrieks and cries of joy.  Of course, this makes the folks in Bentonville nestle deeper into their Snuggies with glee.  

Pandemonium ensues.  In Moberly, I overheard one man telling of slipping on the wrapping and falling to the ground.  Folks were cussing and ripping at each other over $4 sheets back near Electronics.  A grandmother I know (but am not related to) wrenched her back getting PJs for her kiddos.  In some cases, it was physically impossible to move in the crush of carts.  I've seen better manners at European soccer match.

And these are mild stories.  The woman in an LA Walmart who pepper-sprayed a group surrounding X-boxes, got out with her purchases before police arrived. Over 15 were treated at the scene as a result.  Including children.

"Sorry, kids, Santa didn't bring you an X-box this year... but we did get a ride in the Ambulance!  Ah, the memories we're making!"

Really?  This is where we are?  Shop Amazon, folks... it's safer.  And you can do what we should all be doing... spending quality time with each other.

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