Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

"I have met the enemy, and it is the eyes of other people."
--Benjamin Franklin

"We have met the enemy, and he is us."
--Walt Kelly, "Pogo"

"I have met the enemy, and it is Black Friday"
I have, for years, smugly slept in on Black Friday, as only a bachelor with no serious gift requirements could. I've been perfectly content to do my Christmas shopping on those last days before the big Holiday, rummaging through the dregs of what was left on the store shelves. I scoffed at those who would brave the elements, hauling their cookies down to the Wall of Mart at or other dens of iniquity at 6AM to spend hundreds of dollars on the latest toys that their bratty kids have been demanding since they first saw it in the August toy catalogs. Yes, it's another one of those "I'm glad I didn't procreate" moments. This year was to be the same, until fate stepped in...

Let me set the story. I have purchased two television sets since 1988. They have served me well. I don't need a new TV. The one I have is just fine. And I've mentioned here in the past that I don't watch much TV, because it's all pretty much crap. I've never really rented movies, and I don't buy many either. More often than not, it's simply on in the background. But then I saw it. Someone had leaked the Black Friday ad for Target. And there, on the top of the front page, sat that stupid white dog next to a 40" LCD TV for $298. I was intrigued. I checked the specs. I compared others' ads. There were cheaper ones available at other stores, but they were all smaller. No, fate had stepped in. This is the one that was meant for me (it had nothing to do with the 73" TV that BIL3 bought this fall that we watched the Grizzly/Bobcat game on in high def. didn't...). It was time to face my first Black Friday. No perusing the bargains. No looking around. Go in, buy my TV, get out.

I figured that if I got to the store about 45 minutes early, I'd be in good shape. Times have changed though. The early hour of 6AM has been moved to the obscene hour of 4AM. Which means getting up at 3AM. That's OK. Keeping my eye on the prize and all. I leisurely drive to the store, noticing that the traffic was light for 3AM (not that I know what traffic is usually like at that hour). As I turned into the parking lot, I saw why. Every car in town was already there.

That's a bit of an exaggeration. But 45 minutes before the doors were to open, I was at the back of what appeared to be a line of 250 people. And these people were PROS! These people had LISTS! These people had thermoses full of HOT COFFEE (it was a brisk 20°--springlike, compared to the past 3-4 days)! I stepped to the back of the line, and just stood in awe of their experience. But these were younger couples, here to buy toys, right? Certainly, out of the 250 people in front of me, only a dozen or so would be interested in the TV. I shouldn't have any problems at all.

Then I started listening. People started chatting as the big door-opening event was drawing near.
"I'm getting that TV on page one. I need to get one for the other kid's bedroom."
"We don't really need another TV, but how can you beat the price?"
"I heard they only had 20 of those TVs. I hope they're wrong."
Wait...what?? I started to get edgy, but I didn't panic. The girl in front of me seemed to be like me. She, too, was looking to buy the same TV. We both started looking around, trying to figure out who we'd need to elbow out of the way to get to the treasure. While we were deep in the line, there must have been over a thousand people lined up by this time (hard to tell, as the line wrapped around the corner of the building), and we felt fortunate to be where we were. And then the line started moving. Quickly. Our pace quickened, and we mutually decided to help each other find the area. TVs? Back in the electronics area. In the diagonally opposite end of the building. That's OK. I'd run interference, and she'd follow along with a shopping cart. I'd found an ally!

We got closer, and security was making sure that the late-comers weren't cutting into line. Damned cheaters! We get in the door, and the only word that comes to mind is "cluster". Organized, and feeling like we were being herded like cattle, but "cluster". We sneak off the main aisle and find a fairly empty lane. Shopping carts are lined up throughout the store to avoid congestion in the front. She grabs one as I'm quickly walking ("no running, please"), deftly guiding her through the growing congestion. We get to the electronics area, and we find...nothing. Other than the rest of the TVs that only had $50 taken off or something. Not the big ticket item we were searching for. It was at this point that we parted ways. I head back to the front, as I'm noticing all sorts of people with my TV in their carts. I had to find out where they found them!!!


I ran into my second cousin's wife. She works for Target. She's a diminutive woman, and looked like she was shell-shocked. I said hi, she asked how the family was doing, and I asked about the TVs. She told me there were 80 of them in a stack, and they were gone in less than 2 minutes. AT THE FRONT OF THE STORE ON THE MAIN AISLE! I asked her how were supposed to know that. "Didn't you get a map while in line?" WTF??? Apparently there were maps passed out, but my little section of the line didn't get any. She pulled one out of her pocket and showed me exactly where they were stacked. Right about where the girl and I veered off the main aisle.

Obviously my partner was a neophyte as well. Neither of us realized that the best deals of the day would be available at the front. Looking back, after the fact, it makes total sense. And those who are longtime veterans of Black Friday know that. I am now a veteran. And I have nothing to show for it. Sure, I saved myself $300, but that's not like I won $300. I've been to battle, and I have lost. I'll check to see if there's any more deals in the next four weeks, but I don't anticipate I'll find anything quite as good. I'll continue to not pay attention to TV on my old set.

I have participated in my first, and probably last, Black Friday. And I'm writing about it at 5AM. "I have met the enemy..." I concede defeat.

Then again, there's always Cyber Monday...


Leah said...

LOL Os, that's so funny. I commiserate however as it's the kind of thing that would catch me out too. I hate shopping!

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

If it's any solace, my wife had the same experience at Target this morning. She had to settle for the 32" Samsung. The 40 was gone -- and she was in line by 0400!

Ms Scarlett said...

Please tell me you went back to bed!!

I SO would... lol

MinorityReport said...

Aw. At least you tried. I don't even attempt to go out today.

Hubman said...

Well that'll learn ya!

I've NEVER gone shopping on Black Friday

No one Special said...

Having worked retail my entire life you will never EVER catch me shopping on "black Friday".. You can find most of the same stuff on line Thursday anyway, you may have to wait for shipping but dealing with all those people is a giant pain in the ass. And as you found out there isn't enough product to go around. It's so worth it to wait or even pay $100.00 more to buy on line,

Elle said...

I don't think anything could convince me to get up at 3 AM to go shopping with all those people... ACK!!!

I'd probably peruse craigslist instead and buy something second hand :P

Too bad you didn't get your prize though, sounds like it was a great deal :(

Vixen said...

And this is why I have only shopped ONCE on Black Friday. Bc I had this exact same experience. That was 10 years ago and I haven't been back since.


Major.Mack said...

Yep, wont do it either. Madness

Joanna Cake said...

We dont have Black Friday but we do have the Harrods Sale after Xmas. I've never been to that and certainly wouldn't if we had a Black Friday either. Mind you, for Harrods, people have queued from several days before to be sure they are at the front of the line when the doors open!

KittyCat said...

I am a big Black Friday person. Every year, that is if there is a deal for something I need.
I dont go just to aimlessly ramble around in standing only room people.
I am after a germ freak.
This year we were up at 3am and were done by 9am in time to hit the gym.

It was another win/win season of shopping.

Mistress L said...

We are definitely veterans...we go with list, maps, a game plan lol. We're in and out. We hit Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Gamestop all by 4am. I got everything on my list and didn't wait for longer than 20 mins.

The battle here in VA was won hehe.

But yes, Cyber Monday should have some good deals =)

Denny P 3 said...

I actually went out to Wal-Mart at midnight this year. I HAD to get a vacum cleaner for $23! At least that's what my wife told me. Fortunately, I used to work there and had inside info on where to go, and I was able to buy my sweeper. I have never gone out before on Black Friday, nor will I ever again. It was crazy. New reader to your blog here. Good stuff!

Anonymous said...

I don't do Black Friday. Never have, never will.

Bummer about that TV.

viemoira said...

Yeah um no black friday for me- never! I'm with you Cyber monday all the way!