No, Best Buy was not graced with my presence in the wee hours last night before the leftover gravy was even finished congealing, nor Wal-Mart in the predawn chill this morning, nor Target or K-Mart or Lenny's House of Rattan or anywhere else that dangled discounted TVs and Barbie DreamJets like so much chum before a tankful of hammerheads.
I don't get the appeal. I like money--and saving it--as much as the next guy, but there is just something seriously wrong with people who willingly give up their post-Thanksgiving stupor with family and friends to go stand in a fucking parking lot with hundreds of other like-minded schlubs to wait for the opportunity to push, shove, tackle, stampede, get in fistfights, and possibly be trampled to death in order to "save" money by "spending" assloads of cash on carts full of crap they are only buying because LOOK OMFG IT'S ON SALE. Oh, these DVDs are on sale for $12.99! Here, let's get fifty of 'em! Yes, my total bill was $700 and change, but look at how much I saved!
One time. I participated in the cattle call exactly one time, at what, looking back ten years, feels like the beginning of the phenomenon, in the hoary days when Toys 'R' Us took the bold, groundbreaking step of opening at SIX IN THE MORNING--oh, the vapors--and my grandparents thought it would be worth getting up that early to save ten bucks on some Hot Wheels garage thing they wanted to get for my son. We dutifully reported about 6:30 and stood in line at the register for half an hour, and after surviving that barely-a-blip-on-the-radar, barely-a-drop-in-the-bucket-of-things-to-come, shook our heads and decided it hadn't been worth it, and felt ashamed.
I can't fathom doing that now. Some people are certainly in it for the sport of it all, the excitement of feeling part of... something inexplicable, the challenge of laying out a plan of attack and storming the store in a coordinated assault. Others probably truly believe this is the only way they can afford to do Christmas the way they feel they need to do it for their kids or spouses or own egos or something. It's a mystery to me. If you'd like to give me a present, I'd prefer something small and thoughtful. I will not enjoy knowing you blew off Thanksgiving dinner to hold a vigil outside the mall and then ran over several old ladies as you dove for the shelf to grab the last whatever out of the hands of the person who reached it a split second before you did. Just bake me some cookies instead, okay?
My shopping today will be limited to a paintbrush I need for planned work around the house later this evening, and possibly a box of cereal in case breakfast beckons tomorrow. Enjoy my contributions, Black Friday economy! Wipe the grudge off the fiver if you need to!