A lot of memories were definitely made this past Thanksgiving holiday. New couples met their partner’s families, distant relatives reconnected, and I personally witnessed for the first time in my life the shopping spectacle called Black Friday. The buzz has died down since but the impression it made on me this year is not a favorable one. Extreme shopping sports have been happening for years and have evolved to include the likes of H&M Versace debuts and Missoni for Target stampedes, but hands down Black Friday is the biggest event.
Year after year I have watched news clips and interviews of people who stood in line for 24 hours to get first dibs on all of the “deals” and I have spoken with people who prepare real game plans for the shopping event, but I had never seen it in person until this past Thursday afternoon. So imagine my fascination seeing a line of tents parked outside of a Best Buy store in Orland Square mall area at about 5:30pm on my way to Thanksgiving dinner. I did not check other nearby shops to see what the crowds were looking like but on my way back home around 8pm, the line quadrupled and the entire parking lot was full.
I have never been able to wrap my head around the hype that is Black Friday but on my ride home that evening and in the days following I have been questioning whether I could remain friends with people that participate in Black Friday madness because now I would regularly question their sanity.
I understand being passionate about things like:
1. Childrens’ well-being
3. Career advancement
4. Paying bills on time
But some things are just not worth it and Black Friday shopping is one of those things. Anyone willing to sleep outside in extremely cold temperatures in order to purchase laptops and 30 inch televisions gets a major side-eye from me.
I thought all of this to myself until I read in the weekend news that on Thanksgiving night a Los Angeles woman pepper sprayed a crowd of at least 20 people to get access to Xbox consoles in a Walmart store. So while I previously thought I was being pessimistic about the holiday shopping season, I actually think I am on to something regarding the mental soundness of Black Friday shoppers. People will like to classify this as an extreme example, but we have no way of really knowing what sets off different individuals’ brand of crazy. I would have to ask myself the following questions: Is this the type of person who would also drive 900 miles in “diapers” to confront someone?
Is this the type of person I want to invite in my home? Do they behave this way at garage sales? Since there is no rating scale for acts of craziness, this is a legitimate concern for me and should be for everyone. What else are they capable of if just making purchases brings out this much excitement? For me, shopping is cool, enjoyable, and a stress reliever when the money is not tight, but it is just not that serious. The pepper spray incident is not the first of this kind and it definitely will not be the last, but I do not want to receive a phone call or police visitor questioning the whereabouts of a friend or family member who slapped someone’s child because they were holding the last Tickle Me Elmo (or the hot new toy of 2012).