This year was all about sleeping in on Black Friday, but back in 2006, I did it up right. Take a trip with me in the wayback machine…
Because you, reader, are not the type of person so crass as to engage in the testament to materialism known as “Black Friday,” I have taken it upon myself to chronicle my experiences for your edification and dismay.
12:41 AM: I finish plotting out my approach for this, my maiden Black Friday voyage. I attempt to fall asleep after weighing the costs and benefits of just staying up all night. I regret my cup of Thanksgiving coffee and its crippling effects on my sleep habits.
4:12 AM: I awaken, before the alarm goes off, my eyes puffy with Thanksgiving bloat. I greet the dawn. The dawn which will show up two hours later.
4:45 AM: I kiss my sleeping husband goodbye and step out into the bracing pre-morning air.
4:47 AM: I notice that the only cars on the road are my Volvo (name-dropped, once again, for crunchiness cred, my last shred of which I lost today) and several minivans. Minivans are not a good sign. Minivans could only be driven by fellow craven mothers.
4:58: AM: I pass Best Buy and notice the line extending from the door. I ask myself, “What the hell am I doing?” I remember that I hate both crowds and shopping.
5:00 AM: It’s time to either go big or stay home. Park at the bank lot a block down the highway from the Best Buy/Toys R Us sector. Stroll over to line. Observe that line actually snakes behind the building and contains closer to 300 people. Breathe deep.
5:01 AM: Fellow shopper exclaims, “Holy…” Flapping arms, I exclaim, “I know! I’ve never done this before!” “Neither have I!” We are fast friends for the 15 seconds it takes to find the end of the line, at which point he cuts in with a buddy.
6:15 AM: After an hour or so of learning that very few of my fellow liner-uppers have ever done this before, I am at last admitted to the store with a group of about 30 other shoppers. Everyone is very polite and baffled to be encountering flourescent lights so early in the morning. I secure my purchases, saving 70% over what I would have paid at Amazon.
7:00 AM: 45 minutes later, I finish with checkout. The young men in front of me, who maxed out their credit cards on televisions and the pursuit of something called a “bluetooth,” had camped in the parking lot the night before. And they still ended up behind 70 other people. Who does this?
7:10 AM: Back at car. Heck if I’m going home after that. I have the morning to myself, no children to expose to the Omnipresence of Santa, and my second wind. I saunter on down the highway to the mall.
7:45 AM: Having completed my mall errands, with the assistance of helpful and polite clerks, I make the mistake of glancing towards the kiosk with the Earnest Young European Salespeople.
“Can I ask you something?” His name is Anton. He looks like Daniel Craig. He holds a piece of nail-treatment technology. I get a “nail massage” and then courteously explain that I have no money to spend on this product, but will perhaps return after seeing how long the nail treatment retains its lustre.
“I’ll be here,” he assures me.
Why can’t I ever just tell a salesperson, “No, thank you?”
8:00 AM: I speed through the new Starbucks and get my free whatever-it-was with the coupon they sent me last month.
8:30 AM: I’m almost on time for Mass. Hey, if I can get out the door before 5 to buy some DVD’s, I should be able to drag myself to daily Mass. The combined effects of the reading from Revelation and the Starbucks have my mind racing, supplying brilliant theological insights and recalibrating the possible recipients of said DVD’s. I give thanks for my husband, who works so hard and drives so far every week, and hope that the children are still letting him sleep.
9:15 AM: My third wind blows in from the South, sending me on a rapid circuit of the BedBathBeyond/PartyCity/RackRoom/OldNavy corridor. I secure gloves for my son and spend $2.00 on stocking stuffers.
10:15 AM: I call home, to confirm that my husband is awake and to get the phone number of one of the DVD recipients. I confirm with the wife of the recipient that he does, indeed, already have it. I curse my impulse purchase and wonder if I would be better off selling Season 3 of CSI on eBay.
11:00 AM: I walk through Hobby Lobby. Because I can. I have 30 more minutes until I must return home in order for my husband to go watch the Game of Which We Will Not Speak.
11:30 AM: Stein Mart upholds its reputation as the store with the least helpful, most impolite clerks. Look. It was early. I was having trouble focusing. I thought my coupon was for today. So it was last Friday. That doesn’t make me a larcenyizer…larcener…larcenist?
1:30 PM: Having crossed the frontier into the no-sleep zone (did you know there are people who die of chronic insomnia? I heard a promo on NPR…), I decide to go more big and stay less home. I walk up to TJ Maxx and get mittens for my daughter. I then pick up the children from Chili’s, where they had accompanied my husband for the watching of the Game of Which We Will Not Speak.
2:30 PM: After a trip with the children to Kohl’s and Payless, I am finally in possession of Christmas shoes for Little Sister and a Christmas tie for Big Brother. I am done for the day.
3:15 PM: Big Brother is thrown ceremoniously out of the room after waking Mommy up when she was trying to get Little Sister to lie down and take a nap. I shut them in various rooms. I cannot, of course, get back to sleep.
It gets less interesting from there. Lots of dozing and “Law and Order” reruns.
So, now you’ve experienced Black Friday, a journey into Big Box Shopping. Discussion question: If you paid less than your neighbor for the same Christmas sweater, are you thereby less materialistic? Does virtue attach itself to bargain-hunting, or is the thrill of the chase an incentive to vice?
And do you want me to pick you up some DVD’s next year? Because I totally will.