By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
I’m not a Black Friday shopper. I’m a Black Friday sleeper. While the stores see black on the bottom line, the only black I see is the inside of my eyelids while I dream about which Thanksgiving leftovers to eat first.
Tom and I did shop on Black Friday once. It was the first Thanksgiving after we got married, and we went to Tampa, Florida to spend the holiday with his parents. His mother had been through reconstructive surgery to have one of her feet rebuilt, so she was getting around slowly on a medical scooter – the kind where you kneel on it with one knee and push with the other leg.
As we ate pumpkin pie, my fearless, practical mother-in-law announced she would get up early on Black Friday and go to Walmart to buy scooters for two of her granddaughters. Tom and I glanced nervously at each other, imagining her weaving in and out of the massive throngs of people, attempting to carry two scooters to the check-out lane while on a medical scooter herself. Tom immediately said we’d go with her to help.
The three of us got up before dawn and arrived at Walmart a half-hour before it opened, marveling at the long line of human dominoes stretching from the doors around the perimeter of the parking lot. Tom didn’t want his mom and her post-surgery foot to have to stand and inch along the long line, so he suggested we wait at the front of the store until it opened and go in after the line of people had filed inside to shop.
We walked to the front of the store and stood several feet away from the antsy mob, only to have several cranky people shout line-cutting accusations at us. Tom and I glared back at them and stopped ourselves from yelling, “Oh no! You caught us! We’re using this sweet, crippled grandmother as a big ruse to get into Walmart two minutes before the rest of you. Ha ha! We’re evil geniuses!” (We didn’t say it, mainly because sarcasm doesn’t translate well at 4 a.m. and some of those Black Friday shoppers are a little crazy.)
After the doors opened and the line flooded in, we shepherded a determined 72-year-old grandma inside to accomplish her mission. Tom and I stayed close to her, serving as a human shield so the surging crowds wouldn’t bump into her and make her fall. We did get the toy scooters, but during the time it took to stand in line and pay for them, I probably could have gone to welding school and learned how to make a scooter myself.
That was my first and last Black Friday experience. I’m just not cut out for it. It’s a high-pressure game that doesn’t let you mull over a decision. If you mull, you might get mauled. On Black Friday, you must snatch and sprint.
I know several skilled Black Friday shoppers who treat it like an exciting group adventure, kind of like white water rafting inside a Target. It’s a high-stakes safari with the thrill of hunting down something huge, tinged with the threat of the occasional stampede. It’s basically a retail “running of the bulls.”
But I’m a Cyber Monday kind of girl because crowds scare me and I’ve got the quickest click in the West. One of the things I’m most thankful for this year is the fact that there’s nothing – nothing – I need or want so badly that I’m willing to run the retail gauntlet of Black Friday to get it.
Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Although her book is not a scooter, it does make a great gift and is available on Amazon (with no waiting).