Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Friday--It's Tradition.

I have some mixed emotions about this year's Black Friday.  I'm a bit pissed off that the stores are opening Thursday night.  No, not because it's on Thanksgiving--and to be 100% honest, it's not due to the politically correct reason that employees are missing out on time that should be spent with their families.  Sorry.  While I may not have the most popular opinions, they are mine.  And I own that.  I'm pissed off because I'm a diehard Black Friday shopper.  Diehard.  Waking up at 2 a.m. to stand in the freezing cold, even though the store doesn't open until 4 a.m. (or 5 a.m. in some cases).  I get my Black Friday emails starting in September; I have my Black Friday apps on my iPhone; I have already memorized the Black Friday ads and know exactly what stores I'm hitting (and the times too).  This year, with all these early openings, the PRESTIGE of Black Friday has gone to the wayside.  I tried explaining this to my mom, who thinks I'm insane for loving this shopping ritual.  She went with me once, and couldn't hang with the true intensity this shopping sensation brings.  "Prestige?" she asked me, as if confused by my word choice.  Why this word would cause anyone confusion is beyond me.  Let me explain.

The definition of the word is as follows:
Prestige:  Noun:  Respect and admiration felt for someone or something on the basis of their achievements or quality.

The amount of respect AND admiration I have for any soul that is able to beat me to the first in line is not something to be ignored.  Those women are amazing and I hold them in high regard.  Unless the person who beat me happens to be a man, that is.  Then I just get pissed.  Call me a sexist.  I really don't care.  This is NOT a day for men or for small children.  Both usually end up getting in the way or getting hurt.  Consider this a courteous public announcement--or as a warning.  You pick.

I wasn't always this way.  The year was 1996 when I headed out to my first Black Friday expedition.  I was such a newbie, and very naive in the way the day works.  I remember being in Toys R Us thinking I'd just stroll on in and purchase the Woody doll for my son, Brandon.  He was two and loved Woody from Toy Story.  I wasn't the first in line, wasn't even the 100th customer.  Like I said, such a newbie and completely clueless about the prestige of the day and of the Black Friday shopper.  Needless to say, there wasn't a Woody doll in sight--the display had been picked clean.  I was devastated with the thought of not seeing my son's eyes light up with delight upon opening the gift.  I was so naive in the ways of the true Black Friday shopper.  In that brief moment of loserville, I saw something in my peripheral vision.  Some one had taken the much wanted Woody doll and tucked it away in one of the shelves.  In the same moment I saw the doll, another woman did too.  When I recall this moment, I clearly remember feeling two things: 1) ready to destroy anyone in my path of getting the Woody doll and 2) an insane adrenaline rush.  My legs started running full speed down the aisle of the store and I was able to grab ahold of the Woody doll before the other woman.  I was filled with a feeling only to be compared with winning the lottery.  She offered me $100 for the doll, which I politely refused.  NO amount of money was worth the joy this toy would bring my son.  And never again would I hold either of my children's happiness to chance.

So for the last 15 years, come hell or high water, I've been there--in the front lines on Black Friday.  Over the years some things have pissed me off--like the year a man beat my sister and I to the coveted first-person spot in the front of Target.  He wasn't even a diehard.  Rather was holding the spot in the line for his wife, so she could sleep until the last minute.  I mean, really.  Ridiculous.  I'm still a little bitter about that one.  Or the year when they opened both doors to Kohl's and those of us that had been waiting in the line for 2 hours got passed up for entering first (that hasn't happened since--the management at Kohl's learned to never make that error again).  Then there was the year my sister and I got to Best Buy 3 hours early--only to discover the line was already all the way around to the back of the building.  One of the early years and this was a rookie mistake.  There were people in tents and fire pits were going--that was nuts.  Despite all of these irritants, I love it.  I love the crowds; I love the race; I love the excitement.  Over the years many people have gone with me--family, friends, and for the first time last year, my daughter.  And there have been years I've gone at it alone.  I've always been able to secure whatever gem I was searching for, and at a price that was unbeatable.  I've paid $10 for CD players, $10 for scooters, and only $20 for digital 7" picture frames.  I've gotten sweaters, socks, slippers, and every other article of clothing for next to nothing.  I've bought electric guitars and acoustic guitars for $30.00--yup, that's right.  Even digital video game chairs with all the plug-ins for under $30.00.  I'm that good.

This year, however, Black Friday is different.  The prestige is gone.  Those saps, whoever they are, that set the hours for Black Friday are a bit misguided.  Anyone can stay up until 10 p.m. or get in a line at 8 p.m.  Anyone can shop at midnight.  It's the waking up at 2 or 3 in the morning that made me a diehard. I can't respect OR admire anyone that goes from the Thanksgiving dinner table to the line.  Gimme a break.  Where's the prestige in that?

While I've been stewing over the lack of prestige Black Friday is bringing about this year, I'll still be there with bells and whistles.  I'll still be eyeing up the poor souls that beat me to the front lines.  I'll still be ready to rush through the stores, collecting all the great buys for the people I love.  This year, there will be five of us--my daughter included.  I only hope that I've instilled in her the passion and dedication it takes to be a true Black Friday diehard.  After all, Black Friday and the prestige that goes into this day are tradition.

Just in case you need it:

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