Have A Brighter Friday
My first experience with Black Friday was during my Freshman year of college while working at Shoe Carnival. We opened at 6am rather than 8am as usual; our manager arrived at 4am to set up by himself and the rest of the staff was instructed to arrive in shifts beginning at 5:45am. We had many door buster deals going on; once every half hour there was a giveaway, a chance to get into the money machine and catch flying dollar bills, and a chance to spin the wheel and get some cash off. I arrived shortly after 5:30am and was greeted by a line at least 30 people long. One woman yelled at me as I went straight to the door, demanding I go to the back of the line. I politely explained that I worked there (which she should have known given my uniform) and hurried inside away from the mob. Once the doors opened, about 50 people flooded the store, all on a warpath to get the best deal and win a flat screen TV or some Michael Vick autographed gear. During my 14 hour shift, I witnessed two women get into a fist fight over a pair of sneakers while their children watched, a large family attempt to steal 20 pairs of Reeboks, countless people with lists and strict schedules on when they needed to be in and out and where to next, and overall awful behavior from stressed out people trying to save a few dollars.
That was about 10 years ago when stores only opened two or three hours earlier than normal in order to accommodate the Black Friday crowd. Eventually someone decided that 3am would be a good time to open. Then it became earlier. Soon it was a midnight opening. This year, some stores are opening at 9 or 10pm on Thanksgiving, causing many dinners to be cut short so employees can get some sleep in before a long night of dealing with sale-crazed shoppers. What should be a nice family event in the home will be interrupted as family members leave the house and hit Target and Best Buy to score on the first deals of the day.
I am a sucker for a sale and I love getting a great deal and saving some cash. I also love having an enjoyable shopping experience and even more, I love spending time away from the mobs during the holiday shopping season. What should be a fun time for families and friends has become a cutthroat race to the lowest prices. I started my Christmas shopping in August due to my dread of going anywhere near a mall after Thanksgiving and most of it has been done online; Amazon has quickly become my go-to spot for holiday shopping. The joy I once had in going from store to store in December has faded and is now replaced with dread and avoidance. Not exactly a lot of holiday cheer to be found.
Somewhere along the way, we all lost sight of what the holidays should be about. If you’re religious, you should already be well aware of what your season is based on and what the main focus should be. If you celebrate any of the holidays in and around December, your focus should also be on family and friends and the quality time spent together. In a few weeks, my family and I are traveling one state over to visit relatives that we generally see only once or twice a year. We’re not getting together to have a competition on who got the most expensive gifts at the lowest price, we’re getting together simply to BE together. We’ll share a meal, catch up, comment on how big the kids are getting and how nice everyone looks, exchange some gifts and hugs and be on our way. A nice relaxing day with family with no one rushing off in the middle of things just because Kohl’s is having a half off sale.
Stores are opening on the eve of Thanksgiving because we, the greedy public, have demanded it. Black Friday is such a huge deal because we’ve made it so. There is no reason for it to be one of the biggest shopping days of the season and it sure as hell isn’t the best day to get the lowest prices. If the holiday season was part of some nationwide reality program and the grand prize went to the person who got the largest flat screen TV for the lowest price, then go for it and get in line three days early! Otherwise, just skip it. Bigger and better sales go on year round, it just isn’t as impressive to the consumer since stores aren’t doing it all on the same day and urging customers to be knocking down their doors as soon as they are unlocked and open for business.
This Black Friday, like many others, I’ll be sitting at home as the insanity continues outside my door. My dog will be asleep on the couch and I’ll spend some quality time with my son and maybe a couple of hours on Skyrim. My husband is stuck working, but when he gets home I’m sure we’ll find something to do that is a truckload more productive than being sandwiched between crazed holiday shoppers. Instead of driving ourselves halfway to madness on November 25th this year, why don’t we all just take a breather and stay in for the day? Or surf the web; there are many sites having their own Black Friday sales and you don’t have to put pants on or fight the crowds to get to them. If you’re as tired of rude holiday shoppers as I am, quit being a part of the problem by contributing to the madness and give me a helping hand in becoming part of the solution to this Black Friday overload we’ve brought on ourselves. Just sit back this Friday, relax a bit, and exercise that beautiful muscle that is between your ears instead of wasting all your energy dodging shopping carts and taking elbows to the face.