My First Black Friday Shopping Disaster

by on October 18th, 2010
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A few years ago, my mother and I decided to be adventurous and finally go Black Friday shopping. Every year she and I talked about the exciting sales stuffed into the newspaper Thanksgiving week. Yet, after a long day of turkey, stuffing, pie, and other delicious holiday treats, we could never muster enough determination to wake up and go shopping at such an early hour. However, that year we told ourselves it was going to be different and at last we’d earn that coveted position as Black Friday bargain hunters. Little did we know the disaster we were getting ourselves into venturing out without an experienced Black Friday shopper.

That beautiful Black Friday morning we were both stoked. With coffee in one hand and a pile of ads in the other, we dashed to the car, eager to start our shopping. With an hour until the doors opened at the first store on our list, we were convinced we had plenty of time, and we happily sang Christmas carols as we drove through soft dancing snowflakes. But halfway through “Jingle Bells,” we turned a corner and suddenly our peaceful winter wonderland was shattered by an endless line of glaring red taillights and a rude chorus of angry horns. An hour came and went as the traffic inched painfully along. Finally, after nearly two excruciating hours, we made it to our destination, and we sighed in relief, believing the hardest part was now behind us.

Again, we were sorely mistaken! Instead of immediately finding a place to park, we found ourselves in a maddening game of musical cars. Around and around we circled the packed parking lot, desperately searching for an empty spot. But as soon as a single space would open in the sea of vehicles, another car would immediately take its place. Only when we were finally convinced we should give up and escape this insanity an empty space magically appeared right before us. As our car came to rest at last, we took a moment to breathe and gather up what little sanity we had left.

However, once more, we were completely unprepared. As soon as the automatic doors opened to welcome our frazzled bodies, our ears rang with the deafening roar of a multitude of holiday shoppers ferociously fighting over the best deals. Where there once were clean, organized aisles, merchandise was scattered like an endless junk pile. Instead of neat little checkout lines of patient customers in single file, a sea of people snaked in and out of aisles as they fought over who was next in line or which cart belonged to whom. Grandmotherly ladies were swearing at each other. Gentlemen in pressed business suits were ramming others with their carts, frantically forcing their way to the best electronics. And normally sane individuals were stealing items from distracted shoppers when shelves started to empty.

In the end, my mother and I did find some amazing deals that day, in spite of the chaos. However, we learned a very valuable lesson: Black Friday shopping isn’t something to undertake lightly. If you are a beginner, consider heading out with someone that is experienced. Furthermore, keep in mind that people don’t camp out overnight in parking lots for no reason. If you want the best chances of getting the best deals, the sooner you get in line the better. Lastly, don’t underestimate the stress involved with Black Friday shopping. If you are easily stressed out or have any health problems that worsen with strain, consider skipping the rush all together and searching for similar sales online instead.

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