I prepped for this day like one does for a special dinner stuffed with turkey, gravy, and pumpkin pie. I doubled up on workouts the fall months in advance, so I could climb shelves, stretch for treasures, sprint to the “while supplies last” aisles, and push three full shopping carts to the checkout using two hands and one foot while hopping on the other.
Black Friday shopping wasn’t something I loved doing, but I was good at it. Prior to becoming an online shopper, I studied the newspaper ads as if cramming for an important test like the S.A.T. (Shop-A-Thon). I could get Walmart to price match and home deliver a live llama if I really wanted one, and believe me, I came close. I knew which stores opened when and what sugarplum bait each could hook me with.
I proudly came home with the cheapest gaming systems, feet pajamas for all, complete Dora the Explorer paraphernalia, the rarest Zhu Zhu Pets (toy hamsters that NEVER stop squeaking), and other “needed” treasures. I kept my shopping game pretty clean and never got into pillow fights, electronic executions, or Barbie Doll battles.
I am embarrassed to admit that I did get caught up in the materialistic mentality of the BF event though, especially a few years ago when my mother was visiting. She spent Thanksgiving and the weekend with my family and agreed to Black Friday shop with me. She’s in her golden years and had her knees replaced, so her shopping speed rolled back like the prices at the local Walmart we’d go to. My mother still had the spunk and energy to join me, and we left the house at 4:00 a.m. My husband and little girls stayed put in their cozy beds.
In the hectic and dark Walmart parking lot, my mother secured a hard-to-find shopping cart. Once inside, it was hard to move freely among the swarms of people that I just had to be a part of. After I checked to see my mother had her flip phone with her, I told her I’d be back in a flash and buzzed away. I just bolted, leaving her there with her precious, coveted cart.
After loading my arms with enough bath towels to open a spa, I returned to my mother and unloaded my laundry in her cart which I really needed for this shopping trip. I asked her if I could borrow it, and before she could answer, I just took it. Yep, I stole my mother’s cart, her four-wheeled cane so that I could continue packing it with wrapping paper, small appliances, and knock off Tupperware. Geez oh man! What was I thinking?
Before I got to the toy department, I knew I should check on her. I abandoned her in an unfamiliar store during the craziest shopping day in America. I found her near the entrance in the foot bath, waterpik, and pamper-yourself section. I returned her cart to her (filled with more super important stuff I mindlessly yanked off the shelves) and took off AGAIN.
I just couldn’t stay put. The zing, zeal, and zip of the crowd was hypnotic and entranced me. I would have boarded an alien ship if someone told me there was a rollback deal on interplanetary travel. And yes, I bet I would have left my mother with her cart if she couldn’t catch up. I’m so ashamed.
I needed to own those sales though, and fast. My husband had to leave for work at 7:00 a.m., and I had to get back to our kids. I had less than three hours to shop like a fool, regain sanity, and return home with my mother safely belted in the passenger seat of our minivan. Pressure was on to scurry, hurdle, and sing Fa La La while doing so.
I rushed to the toys where I was afraid of missing some sort of magic, like dancing elves passing out mimosas and fast-passes to cut in lines. What a Milton Bradley Mob! I didn’t know where to even begin. (FYI – There were no spirited elves, but I saw a tiny old man take a slow, heavy swig from a flask he returned to his flannel pocket.)
I wanted to be in aisle eight, the infamous doll aisle, but both sides were barricaded with customers. To distract the doll mongers, I purposefully tossed some coins into aisle eight and when my change klinked to the floor, the shoppers momentarily stopped grabbing things just as I hoped. While they looked above for the sky to rain with more money, I slinked in like a cat, stage left. I know, I cheated my way into aisle eight, but I must’ve lost my better judgment in the parking lot.
I squealed, “BOGO on dolls!” I couldn’t even contain my excitement and grabbed a bunch of Polly Pockets, every inner tube lipped Bratz Doll I could reach, and some baby dolls that would pee out water. How fun it would be for the girls to change fake diapers! I stuffed my coat and purse like a shoplifter until I nearly burst. I started to sweat with doll fever, and my claustrophobia clobbered me with a sucker punch. I was stuck between four shopping carts like the monkey in the middle. My breaths stuttered and my heart thumped against all those ghoulish Bratz Dolls.
Finally, the carts pulled out and I escaped. Phew! I shook my head and took a breather. I saw the old guy take another flask nip as he walked away with the blue hair who blocked my exit. I heard him slur, “What took you so long?!”
Then I nearly tripped over a wagon in the middle of my path. Perfect! I emptied my coat and purse and filled the wagon with the rest of my deals. I shopped around a bit more and threw in a panda bear neck massager for my mother (I’m not that bad of a daughter.) My wagon overflowed, and I had little strength left to maneuver it. It was time to greenlight, GO!
I called my mother and met up with her in the grocery side of the store. We checked out, and beyond the stuff I put in her cart, the cashier scanned bananas, Lorna Doone cookies, and a box of Life Cereal. My mother bought three grocery items in three hours on Black Friday!
I ended up with a bunch of senseless purchases including the wagon. We already had two in our garage, but there was such a good deal on this one. My poor mother rode with a wagon handle wedged next to her ear.
When we got home, my girls were still asleep. My mother ate her cereal with a banana while I stole a quick catnap. My children woke me up within an hour, and I was useless. I spent all my energy and money at the biggest monopoly, and now I was depleted, out of reserves, tapped out, broke.
My peppy mother wanted to be with the girls, so she fed them Life and colored and played cards with them while I caught a few more hours of rest. I’m so thankful my mother waited for me while I left her and abandoned myself in a shopping frenzy. I chugged the Black Friday Kool-Aid and followed the material obsessed masses. Later, I had buyer’s remorse, but my mother claimed she had a good time window shopping and people watching.
That was the last time I participated in Black Friday. Recently, my daughters (now teens) nearly convinced me to take them Black Fridaying. I considered it but then remembered how wickedly weird I got that final time. Instead, I came up with a better plan to take them *White Wednesday shopping, when pure retail wishes come true.
Wishing you the best holiday season. In the end, the shopping and accumulation of stuff is not what is important. It’s having someone to give to and share with. God bless us, Everyone!