It comes once a year and they call it Black Friday. Somehow I’ve managed to avoid the full measure of this annual spectacle — until this year.
After purposely planning to purchase a new television with our economic stimulus check back in the spring, we found ourselves still living with the wavy ghost line at the top of the screen on our old set. Television prices went up just as we made our plans and stimulation had come too late and in insufficient amount to make the planned purchase.
A suitable unit was advertised last week for the 5 a.m. special at the local mass merchandiser. Because I had failed to follow through on my promise to the spouse during the spring, I steeled myself and offered to arise at 4 a.m. to compete for one of the sets, which we knew would be in short supply.
I knew something was up as I approached the main feeder street that would take me to the store. It was pitch dark and the traffic was already passing at regular intervals. Sure enough, the store’s parking lot was already starting to fill up.
Luckily they let folks inside the store to wait but had the special sale items palletized and inaccessible until 5 a.m. and the official start of the holiday shopping season.
At first I got in a line in the electronics department that was so long I was sure it would lead to failure. Finally a store employee wandered by and I inquired about the line I was standing in. She said it was for video games and small electronics and all the televisions were out on the floor.
A few minutes of searching through the tightly clogged aisles finally revealed two cousins I hadn’t seen in a long time and, finally, the model I sought. I joined a smaller group of shoppers that had surrounded the pallet full of boxed televisions with shopping carts.
The announcement came over the intercom that sale could begin and the action was like a shotgun start at a stock car rally. Pallets were ripped open and carts quickly stuffed as frantic shoppers moved on to their next target.
I got my television but sadly missed out on the other item I had been instructed to grab. With half my list filled, I headed to the checkout stand where the guy standing in line behind me joked he expected to see Jeff Foxworthy or Larry the Cable Guy walk through the store in search of new material.
Little did he know the joker he was talking to was rapidly filing away material for a newspaper column. Sure enough, the woman in front of us was making 5:10 a.m. a horrible time of day for a checker, insisting the jeans she had in her cart were the ones on sale.
As the battle raged on my newfound buddy and I slipped into another checkout line and hit the door.
Later I learned that evidently my first experience with Black Friday had been a pretty tame one. One co-worker said she had witnessed two fights at the store she had gone to and sustained a sizable bruise on the thigh from a reckless shopping cart driver. News reports revealed that a store employee in a small town in New York was even trampled to death while attempting to open the doors for shoppers.
I’m enjoying the new television and I’m proud I saved hundreds of dollars but don’t look for me in the store next Black Friday. I’m thinking Cyber Monday is more my speed.
Karl Terry writes for Freedom New Mexico. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org