Just returned from Minnesota about an hour ago. The 3-hour trip home was rather uneventful, aside from two VERY tired boys screaming for about half the time. I stopped at a Casey’s and bought enough snacks to feed a small army; that seemed to make them forget about fighting for a bit.
I’m sad to say that I was a participant in Black Friday, but I’m happy to say that, without a doubt, that was the last Black Friday that I will ever participate in. I never have been a person who gets rabid for a good deal, especially if getting that good deal relies upon my ability to fight through eighty thousand other people to grab one of the boxes off the painfully small display. I went this year as a means of yawning support for my sister, and because I realized that I hadn’t yet purchased any Christmas presents. I was hoping to accidentally stumble upon all the presents I needed this year, since I hadn’t given one thought as to what to buy and for whom. I figured I’d meander through Walmart and casually pick up all the great deals, placing them in my cart with nary a care in the world.
Of course, that hallucination went *POOF* at 4:58 a.m., when we pulled into the Walmart parking lot and actually saw people running toward the doors of Walmart, actually frightened that they were going to miss out on the steals. My sister and I looked at each other as if to say, “What in the hell are we thinking?” If we were smart people, we would have turned the car around and went back home to take a nap. Since I’m now writing my 2nd paragraph about this experience, you can probably tell that we were not smart people that morning. We went in right at 5:00 a.m., the very moment the door buster sale started.
Walking into the store, we were surprised to see the lines at the checkout already. Didn’t the sale just begin? If so, what kind of Portajets were these people riding? At first, the aisles were surprisingly manageable with our cart. I think both of us had a false sense of security, as if we were going to snap up every good deal that Walmart was offering that morning. Then we arrived at the back of the store, where the electronics and toy sections were. Bringing the cart suddenly seemed like the kiss of death for the semi-serious shopper.
People pushed … a lady behind me banged me on the ankle with her cart — several times, in fact. After my ankle bone was pretty much bruised for life, she then started ramming me in the butt with her cart. That’s when she got “THE LOOK.” And I realized right then that while “The Look” might work (sometimes) on my middle school students, “The Look” gets nowhere with semi-crazed, sleep-deprived Walmart shoppers. The lady just calmly looked back at me, much in the same manner Nurse Ratched gazed at McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Calm ice.
Even if I changed my mind right then and decided that life was too short to deal with this kind of mess, there was absolutely nothing I could do. The crowd surged toward the electronics department, and there was no escaping. I grabbed a $69 digital camera, reminding myself that I needed a “small” camera that was easier to port around than my Canon XTi. Sense returned, however, when I realized that my money was better spent on Christmas presents for other people. After all, isn’t that what I was there for? I put the camera back just in time for other hands to grab it off the display. The cameras were all gone, and it was only 5:12.
A few minutes later, I caught back up to my sister, who had a look of annoyance on her face. “I wanted one of those Samsung cameras,” she mumbled, “but they’re already gone.”
“Those red ones?” I asked, feeling rather guilty. “I had one of those in my hand but I put it back.”
My sister just stared at me. “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
I just shrugged. We hadn’t thought to share our lists with each other to try to band together in this deal-nabbing expedition. I didn’t even have a list. I was just there for sheer entertainment.
“Maybe someone has put one back,” I suggested hopefully. “I’ll go look.” Since I didn’t have the cart, it was semi-easy for me to maneuver through the crowd and back to the Samsung display. A young man with a thick accent was standing there with two other digital camera boxes stacked on top of one another, and the absolute last Samsung camera in his hand. I thought maybe he was a foreign exchange student who wanted to make darn well sure that he captured every moment of his time in the U.S. He looked young enough, and seemed eager to snap up the camera deals.
“I don’t know,” he said to a random stranger who was hovering nearby, waiting for him to make his decision.”
“IF you don’t want it,” she said nicely, “I’ll take it.”
Me too, I thought, and waited while he looked at all three camera boxes in his hands. After a minute of waiting, the boy put the Samsung box on the top of his stack and walked off. Decision made. He wanted them all!
My sister, of course, was not happy, but the absurdity of this whole scene seemed to be growing on the both of us. The day seemed to be an excuse for people to be ruthlessly rude. I wondered aloud why I bothered to say “I’m sorry” and “Excuse me” when going through the crowd, because I certainly wasn’t hearing it back.
We left Walmart fairly quickly with a few deals in our carts. We stopped at a few other stores on the way home, but we agree that the sleep deprivation and constant battle with the crowds were a strong enough deterrant for future trips. After talking with friends later, we discovered that some savvy shoppers had gone ot the store earlier — about 3:15 a.m., in order to sit by the deals they wanted so they could grab them at 5:00 a.m. That explained the long lines as soon as the door buster sale began. They were waiting.
In other news, this coming week will be the final week of construction, so I’ll be posting more pictures as the lighting is installed and the walls and ceiling are finished. The chrome table is on the way and should be here by Christmas.
I can’t wait!