Friday, November 28, 2014

Fear and Loathing on Black Friday

True story.

I'm living in New Orleans and it's Thanksgiving. Dianne, my BFF and, at that time, my roommate, decides we should be brave and adventurous and do Black Friday right. Like an idiot who'd had too much Rebel Yell and Coke, I agreed. We mapped out a plan whereby we'd arrive at the Walmart parking lot at 3:30 a.m., rush in when the doors opened at 4 a.m. to grab the doorbuster specials, which as I recall included one of those sandwich press thingies that looks like a grill because, basically, it is a grill. We'd zip through the checkout line and fly down Veterans Boulevard in Metairie to get to Lakeside Shopping Center by the time the doors to Kay-Bee Toys opened at 5 a.m.

You know this went badly, right?

There wasn't a line outside the Walmart. There was a horde. It might have been a Mongolian horde. When fearful-faced store employees opened the doors at 4, they rushed the door like starving junk foodaholics after a Big Mac. I was elbowed by a woman who looked insane enough, wild eyed and jittery, that I didn't dare confront her. I wanted to live to tell this horror story. We wedged our way inside and joined the masses trampling toward the Incredible Sandwich Press.

We arrived just as a store employee put up a "Rain Check" sign.

Dianne and I stared at each other in horror. Half our gift lists had been wiped out with one shortage of sandwich presses. "Let's go to the mall--fast," she said.

Off we go, racing down Veterans Boulevard. Now, if you've ever been to NOLA and the near-lying suburb of Metairie, you know that "racing down" any street is kind of a joke. You'll be happy to know that also applies to Black Friday at 4:30 a.m., when half the idiots in the metro area are jockeying for parking spots at the mall.

We find one in outer Mongolia, aka the Red Lobster parking lot, and embark on a bracing half-mile trek to the actual mall. When we reach the center, near the food court (whose managers hadn't had the foresight to open at 4 a.m. and were closed), we saw The Line. It snaked down two long mall corridors and ended at the door to the toy store. Have I mentioned that I hate crowds? Hate.

I'd had enough. There were no small children in my family for whom I bought gifts, Dianne was the one wanting to go to the toy store, I was exhausted from the Great Red Lobster 5K, and I was over Black Friday. I found a bench. An old man was sitting on one end, reading a newspaper. I took the sports section when he was finished. Then the lifestyle section. Then the news. We talked about the weather. We talked about the Saints. We talked about how ridiculous Black Friday was.

His wife showed up three hours later, at 8 a.m. Two hours after that, Dianne arrives clutching a purple bag of Barbies and a zombie expression. "Shoney's breakfast bar," she gasped. Now, you're talking.

It was my first and last Black Friday adventure. Now, cyber Monday? Yeah, baby. Move away from the keyboard.

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Cari Hislop said...

Before I moved to England I never paid any attention to Black Friday (never had the money anyway) it was like an exotic disease suffered by Kangaroos. Apparently Black Friday has now been imported to England and there were some really ugly scenes in the news of crazy people rushing/fighting over cheap tv's etc. People seem to lose all humanity in the scrum. As if cheap flat screen tv's were a limited resource!

I'm glad you survived the insanity! I'll pass on the you, I loathe crowds. The whole experience sounds like a nightmare best avoided.

SandyG265 said...

I'm not into Black Friday but since we woke up at 5 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep my boyfriend and I decided to brave Home Depot. The store wasn't crowded and we were able to get everything we wanted. The Walmart at the other end of the shopping center looked like it was mobbed.

bn100 said...

Sounds terrible

miki said...

oki... black friday sounded like horror for before now it's hell nightmarre completely. i could never try something like that so yes teh discount are perhaps great but i glad i don't have that in my country

Tina B said...

Wow! I have heard of stories about stampedes, but never witnessed one in person. Though I have to admit that I just started doing Black Friday shopping in the last 5 years or less. I have found that other than Wal-Mart (which I don't really brave anymore), other stores seem to have their stuff together. I went out last night at around 7 or 8pm by myself and was home by about midnight. I actually got everything on my list with no issues. People in line were friendly and talkative. :)
I am sure that if I had an experience like you, I would not have gone again after that. Good luck on Cyber Monday!

Suzanne Johnson said...

Thanks for the comments!

@Cari....I'm so sorry to hear Black Friday has made it to England! It's nuts.

@Sandy--Home Depot is a cool store, and much saner than Walmart any day. I'm sure WM was a mob scene!

@bn100...Black Friday=no fun, at least for me.

@Miki...Yes, it's really awful if, like me, you don't like crowds and are not that fond of shopping.

@Tina--You did it the smart way and took advantage of the stores opening on Thursday. Glad you got your shopping done and everyone behaved well!

jmcgaugh said...

I've only dared the Black Friday thing since it started on Thursday night (I'm not an early morning person unless I'm still up from the night before. My only mission is just to see what great deals I can get on DVD's, so I don't approach it as a do or die experience. This year, I stayed home, because I've got some kind of bug.
jmcgaugh (at) semo (dot) edu

Martha Lawson said...

No way in hell will I tackle the crowds!! There is nothing cheap enough that I want that bad to fight the crazies!!! Glad you made it out okay!!!

Steph F. said...

I used to go with my sister years ago but stopped when it started getting dangerous. We've had stampedes, shootings and robberies. The savings is not worth it, I'm with you, give me Cybermonday any day.


robertsonreads said...

Hi Suzanne

Back in the day I did Black Friday. Now, there isn't anything in any store that I want that bad.

Thanks for your

Ginger Robertson aka robertsonreads

Mary Preston said...

I have never done a Black Friday. For good reason I think.

Suzanne Johnson said...

@Janie--I think you folks doing the Thursday night thing have the right idea. Most of the hordes will be full of stuffing and staying home!

@Martha. I'm with you, babe. Stay outta there!

@Steph...I often wonder how I ever shopped without the Internet--LOL. I probably saved a lot of money.

@Ginger--Exactly. Nothing I want that badly, and I really think the prices drop lower closer to Christmas (says the last-minute shopper).

@Mary--Yes, I think you have been wise to avoid it!

Ashfa said...

We don't get Black Friday shopping here in my country, thank God!! I hate crowds and I don't think any discount will lure me out to to brave the crowds!

Jillian said...

I always go when everyone has conked out. I miss the uber bargains but I also miss the crazies. LOL

Louisa Cornell said...

As one of those fearful-faced Walmart employees I understand completely! It is utter madness! Last year the police had to break up a little old lady fight over bed sheets. Bed sheets??? The only way I would fight over bed sheets is if Gerard Butler were in them. Naked. Sheesh!

Trust me, if I didn't have to work I would not be anywhere near any store of any kind on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday. I like all of my limbs where they are and there is NOTHING they can put on sale that will turn me into the Terminator in tennis shoes swinging a purse.

Philisha Stephens said...

I usually tend to avoid shopping in crowds, no matter what the season. However, this year I ventured out with one of my best friends. She'd been diagnosed with MS 2-days earlier and was afraid to go alone in case her legs quit functioning on her. We took our time and strolled more than rushed. It was actually pleasant because we skirted around the crowds.