I had decided to participate in the unthinkable. Black Friday. It had sounded like a really good idea while I was in my pajamas drinking something hot, under layers of blankets casually flipping though the various colorful ads that touted deals so good you were a moron if you didn’t participate. I hadn’t considered the fact that I would be up all night after eating a sleep inducing meal all afternoon and evening. I had excitedly chosen a sale that began on Friday at midnight. This was when Black Friday was still on a FRIDAY and not on a Thursday.
We got into a warm car and made our way to an outlet mall to begin the madness. When the first slap of the below zero windchill hit my face while I was still in the parking lot, the negative reality of my decision dawned on me. Why was I doing this? The outlet retailer had a major flaw in comparison to other shopping venues. It was designed in a strip mall fashion. This meant when I exited one store, I was out in the frigid November air before I could escape into the next store.
I wasn’t the only bargain hunter out shopping. The sidewalk was filled with those who had also been enticed by the flashy advertising to draw in consumers. We all walked briskly past each other giving ourselves bear hugs in an effort to conserve heat. Some of the stores had to be skipped due to an abundance of too many people frequenting all at once. When the line was out the door at some places, I kept on moving just so my circulation would not fail me and leave me unconscious on the ground. They should have named this Frostbite Friday.
As the hours gave way to morning I found my adrenaline was beginning to run on low. We shuffled back to our car with seats that actually crunched when we sat down. Fortunately, I was not driving because the warm rushing air of the heater was slowly lulling me into sleep. Something my body had been craving for hours beforehand. My forehead that had gone numb from the antarctic air slowly began to defrost. I sunk deeper into my seat, however, I wasn’t as relaxed as I wanted to be.
We were not done. Oh no. The first four hours were just the warm-up to the main event. Walmart was opening at 4 am and there were items I wanted to purchase. We strategically waited in the parking lot with the heater blasting to stay comfortable. The line to get in was extremely long, but once the doors opened, the crowds streamed forth rapidly so by the time we got out of the car, getting in the door was rather easy.
My ears buzzed from being lightheaded as a wave of fatigue came over me. My girls and I walked in and the wall of people that had been outside waiting were now in front of us.
And to say the common Black Friday shopper is docile is an outright lie. I saw grabbing, throwing, snatching and all sorts of other ‘ing’s going on that during a normal trip to the store one does not witness. I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep but all sounds around me were annoying and amplified ten times over. I just wanted to throw myself on the nearest clothing rack and nap to my heart’s content.
“Let’s try to get over to the electronic section. I want to get a couple DVD’s,” I said in a mumble.
Every time we tried to go down an aisle, we had to retrace our steps and go in another direction to make any progress. The mass of humanity was beyond thick. Almost near to where I wanted to be, I could not move because we were so packed in by people all around us.
“Link arms,” I said. I felt like we were going to get separated but with a united front working together, I thought the three of us could blaze a trail like Moses parting the Red Sea. It didn’t quite go as I had planned. We had no sooner joined ourselves in unity when the crowd began to move in the opposite direction that I was struggling to get to.
It is difficult to explain the sensation of this, but both of my feet left the floor as the crowd pushed, shoved and surged around us. I was actually airborne against my will.
“I don’t want to go this way!” I yelled as I struggled to get both of my feet back on earth.
It was as if I had suddenly landed on the moon and all form of gravity was gone. I had never had this happen to me before and it was an awful feeling of no control over my physical well being. I kicked both feet and found nothing solid below them. And the crowd pushed and shoved us farther and farther away from the merchandise I had come to buy. I was riding a wave that was hurtling me toward the household section and away from where I wanted to go. I touched down near the crockpots. Which I decided to buy as the deal was just too good to pass up.
Eventually, I made my way back to the movies and books once the initial frenzy of people had died down. The check out line was the next hurtle as all of those well meaning people who had waited at the door were now trying to get out of the store with carts full to the brim. I could feel the temperature of the building increase as the crowds amassed together. While in line, I watched a lady begin to wobble and her balance grew more and more unsteady. She suddenly fell in a slump at my feet. A team rushed over to revive her and brought her a folding chair to sit on. Black Friday shopping is not for the weak.
I began to take notice of what people were buying as I stood waiting. Nothing really had a brand name on it. I had found that most of the deals were not that big of a deal. Then in my sleep deprived state I began to question the whole idea of shopping in this way that took out the thoughtful meaning behind the holiday. This was like a giant greed fest for some. I looked at the DVD’s in my hands and realized that I was only getting a few cents off from the normal price and the shelves were stocked full. If I had waited another 24 hours later, my items probably would have still been there.
When I finally got to bed after 6 am, I wondered had it been worth it? No. Would I do it again? Probably. There was something about being out with the crowds looking for that deal that would be talked about for years and years to come. And, isn’t that always the draw for people? It’s the awful thought of letting the ‘big one’slip away that keeps us pursuing after something even if the odds are good it won’t happen. There is a drive in some of us to withstand misery if it means an off chance of owning something that we have been searching for. We stay on the hunt regardless of the obstacles that confront us. We get swept up into a mode of thinking that we have to chase it down in order to have it.
Some would call it tenacity. Some would say its lunacy. And, in my case, it was a lesson in how easy it is to get carried away. (Literally)