This morning -- at around 5 a.m. to be precise -- I experienced my first ever Black Friday.
Why is still somewhat vague in my mind. I've never understood why people get up at insane hours of the morning on a day off just to stand in line at a store for a few extra dollars off their purchases. If they are truly looking for a bargain, I'm convinced they could probably do much better picking up the same stuff at the somewhat less insane end of season sales. Besides, a lot of these people I'm convinced were charging their purchases to credit cards with double-digit interest rates. Somehow it defeats the purpose.
But for some unexplainable reason, this year I had the bright idea to pick up an item that I thought was really, really great deal at one of these pre-dawn shopping extravaganzas (This item will from now on be referred to as "the thing" since both my children are now able to read). And for some equally strange reason, my husband, who never agrees with me about anything, agreed to stand in line at 4 a.m. for an hour to buy "the thing", which turned out to be something we could have ordered on line for a few extra dollars plus shipping and handling.
Driving to the shopping center, we both realized how ridiculous we were to be driving to a store at 3:30 a.m. Our logical brains returned to us and we knew we probably would never even get near "the thing" much less purchase it. But at that point, we had the kids covered at home, we were fully clothed, and it didn't make sense to abort our mission at this late stage. Besides, we were having too much fun, finally having the chance to catch up, just the two of us. Driving in the darkness, we got to enjoy nocturnal wildlife (a bat, a deer, and someone in an SUV who apparently had too much to drink were among the animals we encountered along our route.)
We made it to the shopping center and the scene was insane. Hundreds if not thousands of people lined up to get into the stores when they opened for business. There were cots, chairs, blankets. These were serious shoppers.
While my husband headed to one store, I opted to stand in line at Walmart. Given the sun had not even risen and I was here, I figured I should make it worth the trip and pick up a few gifts. It was freezing cold but everyone was jovial. A polite young man behind me offered to show me where the electronics department was once we got into the store. People shared stories about their holiday plans.
And then it happened. Some unspoken command was given -- and all hell broke loose. People were running from all ends of the parking lot and rushing the doors. I looked around for my young guide but he was running over a little old lady on his way to the door. I sauntered in slowly, clearly mesmerized by all this mayhem.
Keith met me in Walmart, as he had been unsuccessful in his quest. We picked up two items and made our way to the front, eager to check-out before the lines grew long. As we made our way through the aisles, it was like Armegeddon. People were grabbing toasters, microwave ovens, candles, chips, seven PS3's, four iPods, twenty assorted video games. All for 15% off.
We made it home as the sun was rising. A new day was dawning. When we walked into the house it was 6:15 a.m. All was quiet. And as easily as it had all begun, we got back into bed and slept. I had no worries. There was always the internet.