Black Friday

The holiday season is always an energetic time of the year. My wife is especially fond of the fact that she gets a few extra days off from work thrown in for good measure. And I wasn’t the least bit sorry that I had Thanksgiving night off from my job, a small and all-to-infrequent perk, and greatly appreciated. We got to spend the entire day and night together, some of it with friends, some of it just lazing around the house after a great meal (we went out to eat and loved every morsel).

But the day after Thanksgiving is an ominous bombshell that seems to insidiously work its way into the lives and psyches of even the most stable of our citizenry. It’s called Black Friday. It’s a day when all the stores are geared up for the Christmas Rush to Madness in order to sell their wares at “greatly reduced prices.” It’s a day when insanity ensues. It’s a day when these same stores open their doors at the most ridiculous hours, even 2 or 3 AM, so that hoards of people, some of whom have been waiting outside for days, can rush through the portals into the Promised Land of Stuff.

I have no idea why I agreed to go with Connie when she asked me if i’d like to “go to Kohl’s, later on, of course, to let the crowds die down.” It was a special day, having her home on Friday, and I lost my head, I guess.

We got there around 1PM. The parking lot look like it was sagging. We found a spot about a half a mile from the store. Bad sign. But the sky was blue and the fall air was warm, and here we were, going shopping together on our special day.

I have never seen so many people in one store at one time on purpose in my life. Those who were trying to pay were literally in a line that wound around the circumference of the entire store. Some of them held one or two items. It amazed me at how civil everyone seemed to be. Folks were chatting with each other, or talking on their cell phones, whatever.

I walked around for about fifteen minutes before I realized that I just had to get out of there. Even if I did want something there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell I’d stand in that line to buy it. Then I realized that my wife, the pin-up girl for Shop Til You Drop, was just getting warmed up.

I called her on her cell. She was already laughing about my inability to “hang.” We met at the entrance and she told me she knew I couldn’t handle the crowds. She was actually very sweet about going home, and that she would return later. Better her than me. Just get me the hell out of here.

What I want to know is why otherwise reasonably intelligent people would subject themselves to cruel and unusual stress in order to save a dollar or two. I noticed that when one of the clerks removed some of the “early bird” deal signs from the “special” garments, the regular sales price was only a buck or two more. What has anyone gained by spending the whole day to save a couple of bucks? It’s like driving an extra 10 miles to save a penny on a gallon of gas. It just makes no sense.

But this is a consumer society, and consume we do. We can consume like nobody’s business, employed or not. Don’t have the money to buy that “special” gift? No worries. Just put it on the card, along with the other thousands of dollars worth of crap you can’t afford but can easily forget about the cost since you exchanged no real money. Don’t even think about the interest charges, some of them over 20%, that the credit card company is charging you for your (actually their) convenience. And when the bill does show up, don’t worry about the balance. Don’t even look at it. It’ll just make you sick. Just look where it says “minimum payment.” That’s right, send them a few bucks and you’re all set. All set to pay off the junk you bought for the rest of your life, all set to pay 20% or more than the stuff is worth new, all set to probably lose your house and your car, because if that’s the way you run your finances you will be among the elite homeowners who will go into bankruptcy this year.

Please, be responsible while gracing your family with gifts. Don’t buy things you can’t afford. And if you have a driving need to spend even more money, send it to me instead. I promise I won’t buy stuff I don’t need, like a new 24″ iMac, or anything. Thank you.

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