Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Price We Pay

Photo by stwafanboys

See what I have to resort to without a camera of my own? I am forced to borrow photos from strangers on the Internet.


Sorry, that was just a side note, I'm done whining now, really.

How did you spend your Black Friday?

Were you out in the mobs trying to get the hottest deal at 3:30am or were you nice and warm in your big comfy bed fast asleep and enjoying the peace and quiet?

A few years ago my sister introduced me to the thrill of the hunt. I have gone every year since, with the exception of last year due to the fact that I was 8 1/2 months pregnant and I did not want to be in the middle of a mob and I was trying to get every last second of sleep I could before my beautiful bundle came.

So this year I was particularly excited to feel the rush of excitement as I joined the other crazy shoppers. This year I really got more and more disappointed as the day went on.

Thursday night after we came home from Thanksgiving dinner I sat down with the ads and a sharpie and planned out my plan of attack. I had about 6 items I wanted to get. Some from Wal-Mart and some from Sears. I like going to Wal-Mart (don't judge me, I know some people hate that place, but hey, they have good deals!). Our Wal-Mart is open 24 hours so you can go in anytime during the night. They have all the door buster items on big crates wrapped in black cellophane. At 5 on the dot they unwrap the goods and the mobs go nuts. There is no mad rush to get in the door, people are already there and have staked out what they want and are standing next to the items they want most.

I had my game plan all made out. Wal-mart at 3:30 then onto Sears as soon as I check out at 5am. I took my teenage nephew, Jordan, with me to optimize my effectiveness. He stood by the Air Hogs and Hot Wheels City and I stood next to the Thomas the Train set. We were stationed and ready to go at about 4:15, just waiting for 5am to arrive. A few minutes later Jordan called my cell phone and said there was a fight in electronics over some silly gizmo on sale. The cops were called and both shoppers were escorted out of the store.

No hot deals for them, better luck next year.

Somewhere around 4:30 the crowds could not contain themselves anymore. It was like the shot heard round the world that started the American Revolution. No one knew who started it, but soon everyone was tearing into the black plastic cellophane. It spread like wildfire. Within seconds the madness had begun. I grabbed what I wanted and turned to head for the check out line. As I turned I saw another fight break out. It was over a Jeep Power Wheels. There were two women, one on each side of the stack. They both grabbed for the same box at the same time. They both pulled at the box for a few seconds causing a see saw action. Then suddenly the larger of the two women pushed the box on the other woman causing her to fall to the ground. She then hit her as she stood to make off with her prize. The smaller woman was not giving up so easily. Although she was on the ground and crying she did not let go of the box. Inside I was glad she did not give up. She started talking to the mean lady telling her she had been ready to let it go just before she was so rudely pushed down. Through her tears she told the other lady how rude she had been and that her rudeness was the reason she was not letting go. The big woman proceeded to sit her huge hiney on the box with the top half hanging out her pants. She was just crude. I stood and watched, not knowing what to do to help. I finally reasoned that there was not anything I could do so I slowly made my way to the check out lanes. As I walked I imagined this large woman bringing this toy home and giving it to her kid on Christmas morning. I wondered how that mother would react if her child's friend wanted a turn to ride in the Jeep and her child pushed his friend because he did not want to share. I imagined her telling her son, "Don't push!" Would she feel like a hypocrite? Or would it even cross her mind? I wondered if she would look at it and feel bad about the price she had paid for that item. Not the sticker price of $88 but the price her virtue had paid to save a few dollars on a cool toy. In the long run that's all it is, a toy.

Is that silly toy that will be broken and out grown and abandoned in a few short years worth the price she paid for it? I think how you treat people, especially perfect strangers, speaks volumes about your character.

I love a deal as much as the next person, that's what gets me out of bed at insane hours of the morning once a year. But come on! Let's remember what it's really all about.

Jordan and I were home and back in our warm beds by 5:30am. We had gotten all the items on our lists and we had not hit or pushed or punched anyone in the process. I decided the stores need to have two lines for shoppers. One line for the crazy people who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the deal and one for the just semi crazy people who love a deal but are not willing to get into a fight over it. That way all those people can push and fight with each other and the rest of us can get our deal and get on with our lives.

Later in the day I heard the news of the employee who had been trampled to death after opening the doors to crazy shoppers. Then I heard of others being trampled, including a pregnant woman. Is it worth it? Is getting a good deal worth a man's life? How could it have been different if just one person had stopped to help that poor man? Or if 20 had stopped to help?

I also feel bad for the shoppers. Many probably did not know a man was down. How would I have felt had that happened at my Wal-Mart on the day I was there shopping. How much guilt would I have knowing a man died because of my greed?

Will I continue to shop on Black Friday? Probably. But I have a new outlook on it. For me it's not about getting it all, it's about having a good time and saving a few buck in the process. Just remember, he who dies with the most toys, still dies!

1 comment:

FowersFive said...

I felt the horror of the tramplings too. How a sad a commentary on the worst side of America. I can't even write about it. It makes my own Black Friday deals seem less great. It makes the name Black Friday seem ominous and not a good thing.