Sunday, November 25, 2012

Article #8: Black Eye Friday...

I spend a significant part of Thanksgiving Day browsing the Black Friday ads, creating a list, checking it twice, and planning the itinerary as if we were exploring space instead of parking spaces. Three years ago my husband and I bundled up in our winter garbs and set out for the “midnight madness” sales. Having filled our bellies just hours before with a Thanksgiving feast, we were full, warm and feeling confident in our plan to purchase the all new Xbox 360 video gaming system as a Christmas gift for our boys. Walmart was our destination, and when we arrived, we knew we were in for the long haul. Literally thousands of people lined the walkway, circling around the parking lot. The line of people, however, seemed to be moving quickly, as one by one the shoppers entered the “lowest price” empire. Making our way towards the item we were after, my husband and I confirmed our method of “grab and go,”adding an additional plan of destination should we be separated.

Standing among roughly five hundred strangers, we had maneuvered our way to the front of the mountain of Xbox gaming systems. Wrapped tightly in plastic were approximately three-hundred of these highly sought after gifts, and I was determined to get one. I was a mother on a mission! I placed my hand (as did two-hundred other shoppers) on the wrapped pile. Pressed against me was an enormous “Paul Bunyan” of a man complete with a full beard and flannel shirt who flashed me a look of “don’t even think about it.” I was surrounded by crazies, and we all had a common goal: to walk away with treasure. And then it happened. It was like an out-of-body experience. The Walmart employee blew a whistle, and it was like I was being thrown to the wolves. Plastic wrapping was being shredded and thrown everywhere. There was a moment where I was blinded by a scrap of plastic wrap that was drawn to the static in my hair and briefly covered my eyes. But I never let go of that gaming system box. I could feel it under my grip the entire time, but as I began to pull the box towards my body, I felt a tug. Using my lower lip to fiercely blow the plastic away from my face, I stared straight into the eyes of “a woman scorned.” She looked to be older than I and certainly more frail. She was no match for my big boned body. I had this. I pulled the gaming system towards me, and she fiercely pulled on the other end. I furrowed my brow, “Excuse me! I had this first!” Never taking her eyes off me, she was now violently attempting to wrench my prize from my hands as she screamed, “Give it to me!” I was stunned. The decibel of her screech reached ear piercing levels. The force of her tug caused me to stumble a bit, but I never lost my grip. This lady was serious. But so was I. Without letting go, I slid my hand up the box to gain a better hold and I tugged with all my might, causing the woman to lunge forward. Suddenly, I felt incredible pain. My face stung, and the force of the blow caused me to wince, closing my eyes for what seemed like eternity. I felt the box sliding from my grasp, and yet I was too shocked to really care. Slowly opening my eyes, I could feel a warm trickle above my upper lip. Instinctively, I touched my face. Holding my hand in front of me, I blinked several times; blood? I was bleeding. I looked up, and the woman was standing over me. With one last dirty look, she turned and walked away. I just sat there. My head was reeling. I had been punched! As I watched the woman walk away, I noticed that she was not holding the box. Her arms were empty, and she walked away defeated. But I didn’t have the box either. Had a third someone swooped in and stolen my prize? Confused, I began to stand up, looking around for my husband. Why was he not by my side right now, comforting me, offering me the corner of his shirt to wipe my bloody nose? I had been “wounded in action!”

My husband was nowhere to be found. I stood, looking in every direction and then I remembered our plan had we been separated. Trampled and worn, I slowly made my way towards the center of the store. As I looked up, it was as if I heard the angels sing as the light of Heaven was beaming down. There stood my husband, six foot four, bundled in a “mossy oak” Cabelas coat, arms stretched around an Xbox 360 gaming system! My hero had swooped in as I lay on the cold, concrete floor of Walmart Super Center, grabbed the gift, and had run for the touchdown!

Our story and the stories of Black Friday shoppers everywhere, fighting and trampling their way to the holy grails of Christmas gifts, have given Black Friday sales a well-deserved black eye!

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