Nov 26, 2010

A Tale of (the day after) Thanksgiving

So I happened to catch a commercial today for Black Friday. It depicted happy, well-rested couples leisurely strolling through a mostly empty store, all smiles and laughter, with dollar signs and rainbows and puppies all around. It was almost exactly like our First Ever Black Friday Shopping Experience last year. And by our, I really mean Mark's. Up until then, we'd never partaken in the joy of early morning shopping mobs. I've always theorized that there must be something about eating such large quantities of green bean casserole in one day that profoundly inhibits one's ability to think rationally, and therefore must be directly responsible for the tradition of Black Friday. Which, following any other normal food-intake day would just seem so obviously insane (you know that saying, what if they gave an amazing 4 AM sale and no one came?). Even after a year to reflect, I still don't know why we succumbed, only how. Here it is:

Around midnight of Thanksgiving last, I was looking at an ad for Target, and mentioned to Mark, "hey this is really good deal on Razor scooters. It would be a great present for Mia. Doors open at 5, who wants to wake up?" At this point we looked at each other and promptly fell on the floor in hysterical fits of laughter. Finally we sat up, wiped our eyes, and Mark said, "seriously, I'll go." And that was that.

Later I learned that he slept through the alarm and didn't get to Target until 6, at which point there was a big empty space where the Razors were supposed to be; it seemed the entire trip was a bust. Except miraculously, some mystical shopper fairy (Justin Beiber?) came to his aid, and pointed out the 2 remaining Razors on some display in the automotive section. While angelic choirs were singing (or at least that's what I imagine in my head), he secured the second to last Razor in the store, and possibly the entire state of Washington, all thank to the Benevolent Consumer Elf! Now he only had to get in line, complete the transaction, and get home with time to sleep in still. What he didn't realize was that all the hoards of people milling around everywhere was the line, wrapped around the store a couple of times. It was probably somewhere between 2 and 20 miles long. Eternities later, give or take a few millenia, he finds the end and, because it's the thing to do, stands there. It was a rough crowd of seasoned shoppers, and it didn't take long for the heckling to start:
Dude, are you really only getting one thing?
Umm, where's your shopping buddy?
You didn't even bring a Kindle/iPod/DS/Ridiculously Expensive Electronic Device?
You know it's over a 2 hour wait from this spot right?
Wait, are you a newbie? (astonished pause) OMG, it's a Black Friday Virgin!
No way, I heard about people like you but I didn't know you actually existed!
You seriously have no idea what you're doing!

Turns out, shopping on Black Friday is kind of an art form, and not just about disheveled parents in their pajamas fighting in the toy section. My brother and sister-in-law draw up maps of each store, plot out the coordinates of key items, create a detailed time-schedule, and take walkie-talkies and guns. (Just kidding about the walkie-talkies.) We just thought they were weird. We had no idea they were insane.

So back to Mark waiting in line at Target with our one item. For about an hour he endured the
(kind of) gentle ribbing of his fellow line-standers, most of whom were just holding a place while their spouse/friend/paid companion madly rushed about the store collecting stuff that would simply be crazy to calmly buy at regular price at a decent hour after having showered and eaten, of course. For quite a while he was blessed to listen to 2 large women describe their sexual exploits in detail. (Note to Black Friday shoppers: while compiling your shopping list this year, you might also want to compile a list of appropriate subjects to discuss in public.) Mostly he was bored out of his mind, really tired, and at the center of the Trifecta of Holiday Hell: crowds, canned Christmas music, and fluorescent lighting. Eventually, someone felt he had been sufficiently hazed and suggested he beg the obviously not busy employee at Customer Service to ring him up (not a euphemism). Well, that employee wasn't supposed to, but did take pity on my poor, ridiculously unprepared husband and saved him another hour in line and a whole $13 on a Razor scooter. Yep, just like the commercial.

This Thanksgiving, we're grateful for the return of our sanity.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Are you shopping this year?)


HeatherB said...

I myself have never participated in that hellish ritual, and after reading about poor Mark's experience don't ever plan too. We may be poor, but it is just not worth it. Who am I kidding, it's not like we buy our kids many gifts anyway. Glad to hear you have returned to your senses!

Mary said...

I was wise and stayed home this year. I have shopped on Black Friday in the past though and it is crazy!! Yes you can get good deals, and many of them are worth it, but I stayed home in my nice warm cozy bed this year.

Sara said...

It is quite crazy. But I think just as crazy as spending hours and hours clipping coupons in order to get 20 boxes of cereal for 10cents a box. :) Oy, the things we will do to ourselves to save some dough.

Sara said...

PS-- I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving!!!

Anonymous said...

I would rather pay 25% more than shop with 75% of the population for sure! I did end up at Fred Meyer for socks for the kids. (And you know, I don't even like their socks!)

Julia said...

I H-A-T-E Black Friday and will do anything to stay out of a store on that morning. There are much worse things than paying full price, you know what I mean?