When Black Friday Comes …
By JAMES GROB
Ottumwa Post Columnist
Hold it, hold it, just hold it one second here ...
Just when I thought I had that whole holiday season thing all figured out they start messing with me again.
It's all supposed to start on "Black Friday," right? The Friday after Thanksgiving Day -- which is almost always the last Thursday in the month of November. And on Black Friday, they open all the doors to your favorite stores at some ungodly hour and people rush in to buy outrageous items at outrageous prices.
So I had it all figured out. I would rush into my favorite discount store on Black Friday morning and I would get that "Hello Kitty" glow-in-the-dark stopwatch/wastebasket that I need for my home or office or home office or maybe even my office home. I've wanted that stopwatch/wastebasket for quite some time now, but on Black Friday that thing was gonna be something like 900 percent off while supplies last, so I had to get in there early on Black Friday to get there ahead of all the other thrifty shoppers who are feeling the Christmas spirit flow through them.
Nothing says “Christmas” like a "Hello Kitty" glow-in-the-dark wastebasket/stopwatch combination.
So I checked the hours to find out when exactly this Black Friday thing was supposed to start and, it turns out, Black Friday started on Thursday.
I don't mean it started at midnight on Thursday night, I mean it actually started on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, several hours before Friday, while I was dozing off on the sofa in front of Oakland vs. Dallas in the traditional attempt to digest a delicious meal that I was truly thankful to have ingested, and hoping it would not become indigestion.
They pulled a fast one on me! They sold all my Hello Kitty products the day before Black Friday, because Black Friday was actually Thursday this year.
Then, between the television highlights of the football games I had very traditionally dozed off to, they showed highlights of some of the more interesting Black Friday moments -- even though those moments were actually on Thursday. I saw two old ladies using some violent mixed martial arts on each other, bludgeoning each other with purses over a video game, and then a third old lady walked up and stunned both of them with a taser gun and took the video game from both of them.
Note to self: Before next year, invent a video game called "Black Friday" in which you can fight a bunch of other idiots in a discount store for the prize -- which is a video game called "Black Friday." Side note: Said video game will probably be rated as too violent for immature players.
Some other Black Friday highlight moments included an old man throwing soccer balls at the feet of people who were about to catch up with him as they all rushed toward one of the sales in sporting goods. I kept wanting to yell, "Hands! Hands! That's a soccer ball! You can't touch it with your hands!"
But alas, no such rules exist in the universe that is Black Friday. Or Black Thursday. Or whatever. Look at the history. In 2008, a Walmart employee was trampled to death on Black Friday. That same year, two customers were shot to death at a Toys R Us. In 2010, a Toys For Tots Marine was stabbed when he tried to stop a Black Friday customer at Best Buy from stealing a laptop.
I recall videos of gangs fighting over the last waffle iron. A waffle iron? You're actually fighting over a waffle iron?
So after seeing all of that and thinking about it, I decided it was probably a good thing that I missed out on Black Thanksgiving Week. I probably would have gotten pepper sprayed on the way to the Hello Kitty glow-in-the-dark stopwatch/wastebasket section.
Look, I realize that we live in a capitalistic society, and that a lot of people out there count on making a lot of money during the Christmas holiday season to keep their businesses alive the rest of the year. And I'm all for people making money.
But, holy macaroni! When middle-aged men are shooting tear gas at little kids so they can beat them to the aisle that has the blue jeans with the cute bling on the butt pockets, isn't something out of whack here?
Isn't it about time these discount chain retailers all take a deep collective breath and say, let's straighten some of this out?
Let's not make our employees work on Thanksgiving. Let's not get our customers into such a frenzy that they're physically harming each other for the last available Fisher Price Octopod Playset.
On Christmas morning, don't tell your kid, "I kicked the crap out of two old ladies just so I could get you that Big Hugs Elmo. I hope you enjoy it."
Because there's a mixed message there, and I don't think it has all that much to do with Christmas.