Yesterday, as tradition dictates, we spent the day in a turkey-stuffed stupor with my family here in South Bend, Indiana, pouring over the ads for the biggest shopping day of the year. I was a bit intimidated, as this would be the first year I wouldn't be slumbering through the madness. My darling SIL would be initiating me in the frugal frolick that is 5am on the day after Thanksgiving.
We made tentative plans for destinations, mapping, and items to purchase. We got up early, piled into the car (my husband couldn't resist the fun, either, much to my astonishment!), and set out for destination: Walmart.
Madness, I tell you! Madness! People piled on top of more people, everyone vying for the shortest checkout line. Loaded down with flat screen TV's, the latest Hanna Montana gobblty-gook, and armloads of clothes. I shopped for about 10 minutes, then took my place in line and waited for Yasar and Chris to gravitate from their positions in the toys and electronics departments. And the entertainment began. If you're the type who enjoys people-watching, Black Friday at Walmart is an absolute bonanza! You can see the best and the worst in human behavior, all in one fell swoop. It seems that the old adage should be updated to say "all's fair in love, war, and Black Friday shopping." Women getting snarky with each other over checkout line position, people guarding their shopping carts as if they're filled with precious gems, fat women stripping down to barely-decent tops due to the intense body heat generated by the hoards. And the smell! Hundreds of unshowered, undeodorized, and probably un-toothbrushed people. Yowza. Hmmmm.
After that, it was off to Office Depot, where Chris was eyeballing a fax machine that, after rebate, would go for a paltry $10. You'd think an office supply store would be pretty low on the shopper's radar...you'd be wrong. The checkout line was easily 45 minutes. But I got to watch some of the best spirit of the season - the girl behind me was too late to get the $350 laptop she wanted, and was standing in line with her $500 next choice. A gentleman came by and gave her a pink piece of paper that entitled her to one of the computers she wanted. With a "merry Christmas", he disappeared into the crowd. After a few minutes talking to others, we found that they were only handing out those papers to those hardy souls standing outside the store at 4am. And, that same girl had been approached by someone else outside trying to scalp one of those papers to her! She was a very happy young lady, and it was such a blessing to watch her glowing with her gratitude to that kind stranger.
Last stop for us was Menards. The store was crowded, the lines long. We chose to go to the checkouts in their outdoor area, and ended up spending what seemed like forever, but was probably closer to an hour, in the 40 degree checkout. And, at the end of that miserable wait, got to watch a gentleman basically lose it on a poor cashier who was no doubt more cold and miserable than the rest of us. Not the kind of end you really want to experience, but I guess it's the reality.
Moral of the story? I now know how I'm going to make my first million. I'm going to pitch a story to the first video game company I can, called "Black Friday". It'll be better than GTA, I promise! Starting with the parking lot derby, the race for the Wii, answering trivia questions to advance your place in the checkout line, earn extra points and trade them for a Taser to get people out of your way (and might also be helpful in zapping the guys breaking into your car and stealing your bags while you're in the mall). Tell me you wouldn't buy that!