I experienced my first Black Friday last week

Actually, until my sister got a job selling cell phones (down in the Sam’s store), I was pretty ignorant about the whole idea.

“I don’t know how to put this, but it’s kind of a big deal.”

I’ve read about some of the Black Friday observants. These people are certifiably insane. I feel less safe to go out in public knowing one of them could be around the next corner, trying to get a good deal. If we were at the same shopping center, I might actually fear for my well-being, especially if we were reaching for the same item. These folks are stone-cold professionals and wouldn’t think twice about dropping me right there in the aisle. They would drop me, and they’d sleep well that night.

This year I’m a bit of a hypocrite in this because I joined the ranks of those braving the cold, dark and crowds. For myself, it was Target. But this was my first time, and anyway, I’m a copy editor. I was going to be awake at 5 a.m. regardless.

The store opened at 6 a.m. I’d like to say I have better things to do than stand outside a closed store for an hour. I’d like to, but I don’t. I still didn’t go early, I just didn’t spend my time any more fruitfully.

So I got in my car about 5:55 a.m. You know, to beat the rush. I arrived at Target right at 6 a.m., and from where I had to park, I knew it was busy. I’d expected that, but I figured J.C. Penney, Sears and especially Wal-Mart had opened earlier and caught the brunt of most people’s enthusiasm. I was thinking I’d walk into a typical weekend afternoon atmosphere, just moved to early Friday morning. And as I walked up to the doors, there was a crowd waiting in front of the store, which was sizeable, but no more than 50 at the most.

Several hundred people are chuckling now realizing I didn’t see them lined up against and around the corner of the building. People were just being let in as I walked up, people who had stood in line for the privilege to stand in line. Flashbacks of college registration briefly washed over me, but I recovered.

I might have been the 403rd person to get in that day, but if I had to wait more than 10 minutes, I’d be shocked. I came prepared with a rubber ball to bounce, so time passed smoothly, anyhow.

I got jostled a bit going through the doors as people rushed by on every side, but as I was upwind of the initial burst, I was saved from most bodily harm.

Once inside, I saw an elderly woman in a motor scooter at the end of an aisle. She had an unhappy look on her face that seemed directed at the mass of humanity streaming by, not even pausing to let her through. I thought this very ungrateful of her. No one even reached to take her portable LCD screen box from her, and those were a hot item this year.

The financial crisis sent shockwaves around the world, and I heard that in Russia, faith in the strength of its currency is so bad, people are rushing out to spend their rubles on plasma TVs and such, in the fear tomorrow they’ll wake up and find their money worth 10-times less.

I laughed at the Russians then and thought their response to a recession pretty silly.

Target really didn’t need to open anything but the electronics department. Those with flat-screens under their arms went to get new clothes, but few otherwise. I heard that at Wal-Mart, some people walked around for literally hours carrying TVs, waiting for 5 a.m. checkout. Still, no one was trampled, and there’s a glass half full in that.

After I’d gotten the one item I’d come in for (it cost the exact same as it did three weeks ago, by the way), I went to check out. I was behind a woman who’d spent too much at Wal-Mart and was trying to figure out what she’d have to put back until she could go by her bank. There was also a man with about six LCD screens, among other things. As I said, they were a hot item.

One of the boxes seemed a little scratched up and bent out of shape, and I wondered if he’d get an extra discount, but didn’t pay close attention when it came time for his checkout.

Finally I paid for my item, wished the cashier a good day, and went to my car. I was back at home and on my couch less than half an hour since I’d left it, but I felt very tired for some reason, and as I fell asleep, I found it quite hard to dream of a white Christmas.

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