Friday, November 28, 2014
Fear and Loathing on Black Friday
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.
Leave a comment here today for an entry for a $10 Amazon gift card giveaway. Extra entries if you comment at my guest post at Romance University and at my blog.
BIO: Novelist currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (urban fantasy, Tor Books) as Suzanne Johnson. Writing as Susannah Sandlin, author of the Penton Legacy (paranormal romance) and Collectors (romantic suspense) series from Montlake Romance. See my author website for more info!