Saturday, November 27, 2010

It's the Most Commercialized Time of the Year

2000 years ago God held up his end of the promise he had been making for centuries to send a saviour into the world to redeem man.  In honor of the birth of his son, we have developed many traditions, such as singing songs about magical snowmen and red nosed reindeer, turning our homes into giant light displays, and lying to our children so that we have something to hold over their heads in the hopes of better behavior (you'd better treat your sister nice or Santa won't give you the video game you asked for).   As an American I admit I get much enjoyment from many Christmas traditions that have nothing to do with the real meaning of the holiday, and feel no guilt over watching "A Christmas Story" or hanging stockings on my electric fireplace with care, in the hopes that Heather will stuff it full of goodies, although I try to remember the real reason many of us celebrate Christmas.  There is however one unsacred cow I never offered on the altar of the commercialized season until this year.

Black Friday, or African American Friday for the politically correct crowd, is a day when ordinary citizens camp out in front of stores overnight hoping to be rewarded by saving major money on a big ticket item, or by getting their hands on this year's must have toy.  Because nothing says "I love you" like "mommy broke a lady's arm getting you this tickle-me-elmo".  I have always avoided shopping on this day, because although I'm cheap, I also value my time, and the idea of spending hours waiting in line without being rewarded by a ride on something that is both terrifying and exhilerating is not appealing to me.  Plus, as much as I like people, I prefer not to share a shopping aisle with 72 of them.

This year I agreed to go with my friend Jeff to a "door buster" at midnight.  While I don't want to wait outside a store all night long I didn't mind the idea of staying up until midnight so Jeff could save a few bucks on some stuff.  I figured the store wouldn't be too busy, since all the awesome deals such as electronics didn't start until the main event at 5 the next morning.  Boy, was I wrong. 

My first clue was when we entered the store and there were no shopping carts in the front entryway.  We then entered a mass of people more chaotic than than passengers on the deck of the Titanic as she was going down.  We quickly decided to split up so we could save some time, so I took my half of Jeff's wife's list and made a bee-line for domestics, where a 40 piece rubbermaid food storage set was on sale.  I also got a shop vac and Buzz Lightyear coloring toy and headed to electronics where we had agreed to meet.

I found Jeff in electronics, looking as stunned as a Cubs fan after they win a game.  He hadn't found anything on his list yet so I took a tour around electronics to see if I could find any of the games or videos that were on his list.  We quickly realized that all the deals were located on pallets in the aisles, so off we went.  I decided to get a shop vac for myself, we found most of the items on the list, and were ready to go before 1 am.  This is where the night took a turn for the worse. 

After standing in a line that ended near the back of the store for about 5 minutes, I scoped the store out and discovered a far shorter line in electronics that only had about 12 people in it.  Jeff did a verification check while I watched the cart, then moved to the shorter line in hopes of getting out of there more quickly.  Our new line was moving slowly but steadily for about half an hour, then the girl at the register was replaced by a guy who obviously didn't know what he was doing.  I say this, because when we finally got near the register I heard him saying that he was not a cashier, and also because we stood in line for over 2 hours waiting to get that close.  This kid made more calls for a manager than the Dallas Cowboys.  And of course with each call the line did not progress for 10 minutes while a busy manager came from somewhere across the store to show this kid how to approve a credit card or whatever.  Finally, at close to 3:00 in the morning we got out of there with Jeff's 20 dollars in savings.  I will never go shopping on Black Friday again.  On the bright side, at least I got a shop vac for 15 bucks.