Black Friday vs. Thanksgiving: a tale of a girl’s first Black Friday
Black Friday. I have never taken part in it. Never observed it. Never had the desire. And never will again. This year after the coaxing of some die-hard black Friday shopper friends, I decided to go and observe. I lasted two hours.
Our first stop was Target. It opened up at midnight. There was a line around the building. There were four cop cars with dogs in them. It was insane. It looked like a swat situation. Target seemed to have it organized. Once they opened, they would only let 50 people go in at a time. After two people being sent to the hospital on stretchers last year, they learned their lesson. It took an hour to get all those people into the store. While in the parking lot observing and taking pictures, we talked to two ladies who were sitting in their car. They were sisters and this was their tradition every year. They would hit all the stores and end up at Bob Evans for breakfast. The sisters would go home and sleep for a bit and then decorate their respective homes for Christmas. They had been doing this for years. They also recounted the horror stories that they heard were occurring at Wal-Mart. It’s like we were in a war and each store represented another country that had to be conquered. And every soldier had a duty to tell the other soldiers the news from the foreign lands. One thing I learned about Black Friday…everyone has a story.
Not wanting to wait, we headed to Kohl’s. We got right inside. While my friends went and shopped, I just wandered around observing the controlled chaos. I saw some people that I knew but they pretended they didn’t see me. I was not offended, I get it. They were on a mission and there was no time to chitchat. Most people avoided eye contact! Who cares about community? All the thanks that were given for family and fellow man was forgotten once inside the stores. I think it must be a game or competition for these shoppers. The check out line stretched almost all the way back of the store. I had had enough of Kohl’s.
I moved on to my last stop. The last frontier. The place where it is rumored that people enter and are never seen again. The biggest black hole of Black Friday: WALMART. Words cannot express the carnage I saw there. Again, four cop cars with dogs barking in them (I still don’t get what the dogs were for? Atmosphere? Drugs? To chew of the arms of anyone who dared to steal or pepper spray the competition?). Once I entered the store, I noticed that there were actually cops in the store. Some checking receipts, others just making their presence known. I was beginning to think I was living in a military state! Reminded me of when I went to Tijuana and military cops were in the most random of places.
There was not a cart left. I meandered through the store. I went back to electronics where a line went for a long way. I still don’t know why they were standing in line. I don’t even know if they knew why they were standing in line. Pondering what was at the end of that particular line, I ran into the ladies who were in the car at Target. They stopped and talked to me some more. They were asking how my interviewing and observations were going. They just loved telling me their war stories. In fact, there is almost a brotherhood of Black Friday shoppers. There is always a story to be told. I made my way up front and could not figure out how to get out of the store. I was going to be one of those people who entered Wal-Mart and never left! They had the craziest set up for checkout. I found myself in the cosmetics section, which was blocked off. I half expected a cage to come down and a siren to go off. I talked with the employee manning the section for quite awhile. She said this was the first year in the 15 years she had worked for Wal-Mart that they had the lines set up the way there were. They had them set up to keep other lines away from each other so that fights would not break out while customers were waiting to check out. She said two fistfights had broken out already that night. One in electronics over a 10-dollar mixer and the other in the check out line. She said that the night had been horrible and people were just mean. Another worker and some other customers who came just to observe joined us. We compared notes. And shook our head at the craziness of it all. It was like being at a really bad accident and you just couldn’t stop looking at the wreckage.
I made my way up to the front of the store to leave (after being shown how to get out of the maze) and saw a friend from Vermilion, leaning against the garbage can, waiting for his sons to finish. I stood with him for about 10 minutes. We compared stories like we had been in war together. Again, everyone has a story. I said my good night and walked to my car. I could not get over the carnival like atmosphere in the parking lots of all three stores I had visited. There were a lot of people, just like me, coming to observe. IT reminded me of a hockey game. Everyone who goes to watch a hockey game wants to see a fight break out. Everyone coming to observe Black Friday wants to see some drama or fight occur (I admit it, I wanted to see it firsthand). It is the same mentality of those who watch Jerry Springer. Black Friday does not bring out the best in people!
Here are my conclusions. Thanksgiving and Black Friday are diametrically opposed to one another. And I am sorry to say the Black Friday has slowly eroded Thanksgiving and now overshadows it. I hate the message that Black Friday sends. After a big Thanksgiving meal, where we thank God for all that He has blessed us with; family, friends, provision, health, peace and joy to name a few, we push ourselves away from the table to look at the ads to see everything we don’t have and mark our strategy on how to gain and beat out our fellow mankind for this stuff. Were we just not thankful for all that we had? Gretchen (a friend from college) wrote a status on her facebook that sums this idea up “So…you have a few hours left in a day that’s dedicated to being thankful for what you DO have. Why not waste them standing in line drooling for things that you don’t have.”
People want to blame the big box stores for all of this that is happening. It’s not their fault. It is ours. We are the one who make it the biggest shopping day of the year. I will never Black Friday shop again. I can cross that off my bucket list. I will go back to trying to buy all my Christmas gifts from the little shops in downtown Vermilion. I will celebrate all the small businesses that are owned by my friends and neighbors. I will be grateful all 365 days of the years for the way the Lord has blessed me. He has given me all that I need!