I went black Friday shopping. On Thanksgiving. At Wal-Mart. Go ahead – accuse me of contributing to the erosion of the American institution. And I’ll tell you that it was a lot easier than you might think to abandon a Thanksgiving dinner table where my 82-year-old Grandma is ripping twelve second farts to shop kidless with my sister while sipping on Crown and Cokes.
Also, we usually eat around noon, so by 6pm my aunt’s house makes Chernobyl look like a botanical garden.
This marks the second year my sister and I have gone black Friday shopping. The first year we showed up at Wal-Mart bright eyed and bushy tailed well before the sun came up, ready to fist fight an old woman over whatever the hell we wanted. The drive was filled with excited chatter about deals and strategies and deadly stampedes. McCafes in hand, our jaws dropped as we crested the hill only to find a sparcely populated parking lot.
“Oh, that craziness all happened last night. It’s all over now,” the bleary eyed Wal-Mart cashier informed us as we sheepishly scanned our full-priced merchandise.
“What? Shopping on Thanksgiving? Who would do that?”
<<<< FAST FORWARD TWO YEARS>>>>
“Oh my God… I think that one broke the sound barrier,” My voice was muffled under the sweater I had pulled up over my mouth and nose as I ran out into the cold. “I’ll start the car.”
This year we made it in time, and what I learned that this whole event is much bigger deal than you might think.
First of all, the person in charge was a little 90-pound woman walking around in a Wal-Mart vest waving a box cutter at everyone. “DON’T TOUCH THAT YET!” She would point the box cutter and yell at all the people huddled around a pallet of gas grills any time their little fingers strayed too close to the shrink wrap. She was like a tiny little gestapo.
It wasn’t a big opening of the doors followed by masses trampling little old women like I thought – it was a tense hour with a lot of people giving each other the stink eye followed by the much anticipated ripping open the palates and then the organized chaos which ensued. Beth and I had a sketchy “plan”; my fellow shoppers had this whole thing down to an exact science. Their movements were choreographed to the mili-second and god help anyone who got in the way of their $2 bath towels.
While I will never aspire to be nearly as gifted as these deal-seeking freaks, I did learn a thing or two that I thought might be helpful to pass along in case anyone ever wants to join me skipping out on family time to snag some deals.
1. Don’t make friends. Polite conversation is fine; you’ll be standing next to the same old woman for over an hour giving each other the side eye whenever one of you makes any sudden movements. It would be rude and weird not to talk. But don’t get attached. When that overhead page comes down and the shit gets real, you’ll both be psychotically lunging after the same deeply discounted Sofia The First rollerblades. Emotions will only cloud your decision to kick her in the teeth when she gets greedy and tries to snag two. Also, don’t be afraid fight dirty. I’m talking about using tactics like pointing above someone’s head and yelling, “FIRE!” or “ELVIS!” when it’s go time.
2. Make yourself a little drink. You will see a lot of things at Wal-Mart black Friday that will make you lose a little faith in humanity. Like a woman draping her body over a palatte of tealite candles. Or people posting their children at various stations to snatch and peel out with the Lego movie. It’s best those details remain fuzzy in your memory, along with the fact that you lowered yourself to such bargain shopping levels. Also, they sold out of what you were going for? Who cares! Let me jump on the end cap and show you some REAL deals!
3. Like traveling to an amusement park with small children, have a designated meeting point in the event of seperation. Amidst the chaos I lost my sister and had no cell reception. I was reduced to wandering the aisles yelling, “BEEEEEEETH! BEEEEEEEETH! BEEEEEEEETH!” for a little over a half hour. Turns out, she was in the bathroom. Yes, IBS runs in our family.
And just remember, if you walk out defeated and gift-less, it’s okay. You’re working a nice buzz, and black Friday shopping makes for awesome fodder on a mommy blog.