Black Friday has rolled around once again, that day of intense shopping that people voluntarily participate in for what reason I cannot fathom. Call me a misanthrope—many have and I don’t disagree, at least sometimes—but I can’t imagine what sort of deal would compel me to shop on the day after Thanksgiving ever again; simply far too many people for my tastes. I did it one year to get a free smartphone. I did it another, I remember, to buy a card table for something like twelve cents. Dandy deals, to be sure, but the soul-crushing cost is too much for me to bear. Your mileage may vary.
Speaking of crushing, I caught a blurb last night on the idiot box about strategies for Black Friday shopping. I only caught a few seconds of it before I shut it off in disgust, and it was this blurb that occasions this blog. Here was the key Black Friday tip, which I quickly wrote down so I could quote it with confidence: “If you find yourself getting trampled, try to roll off to the side and scream.”
Good advice! Maybe, if you’re so very fortunate, the disgusting pigs (no offense to actual pigs) who are trampling you in an effort to get a $148 cheap Chinese-made piece of crap but HD 32-inch television will deign to cease snuffing out your life. Maybe. But I wouldn’t count on it.
This is what we’ve become. We no longer make much in this country, or at least not nearly as much as we once did. We’re damn good at consuming things though, and our locust-like behavior goes beyond the pale on Black Friday. Every year without fail, some poor schlub in search of some piece of junk consumer electronics made by laborers who make eleven cents an hour so some company can keep their stock price up and some fat cats can get fatter, gets stomped on. Whether or not said schlub loses their life could go either way. Perhaps with the aforementioned safety tip—handily provided by television people who you know on Black Friday will be hoping they can get the stomping on tape—said schlub will be able to, I don’t know, just be permanently paralyzed from the waist down instead of dying.
Meanwhile, what of the thundering herd that knocked granny down? What do those people do the rest of the day or the rest of their lives? Do they celebrate the fact that they got past the stompee and got the coveted Barbie or DVD player or what have you? Do they breathlessly recount how they had to do what had to be done to achieve consumer victory? Are they even aware they mowed somebody down? I think I would notice if someone was lying on the ground that I was walking over. Or maybe the discount store floor is just extra lumpy today. I suppose that’s why the advice included the screaming bit. Because if the floor isn’t screaming as you walk on it, hey, carry on!
I like to save a buck, but that single-minded pursuit of cheap stuff boggles my mind. Having to run, jostle, and grab something away from someone else—or even just snatch it off the shelf before the store runs out—just doesn’t put me in the holiday spirit. I hope that if you elect to shop on Black Friday you get what you’re looking for and get home unscathed. I’ll be at home, and at work, mostly alone. Chances of being trampled? Zero.