Black Friday

By John Toth

Here it comes again - Black Friday. After giving thanks on Thanksgiving Day for all of the good things in our lives, many of us mix it up for those bargains just a few hours later.

And that’s how the holiday season begins.

It is a physical sport – like football without referees. The only rule is to get to that cherished product on sale before someone else, and hold on to dear life.

Retailers know how to get us going. They put a few items on sale below their cost to lure us in, and then only provide a few per store. The trick is to get to it before anyone else does.

The bloodsport used to start early in the morning on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, but now lots of retailers are opening on Thankgiving night. So, if you want to get that big screen TV for $199.99, you better scarf down that turkey and dressing, and get ready to rumble.

I’m all for maximizing sales, but people have gotten hurt or killed in the process of getting theese bargains.

NBC News from last year: “Violence erupted at Black Friday sales across the U.S. with one bargain-hunter left critically injured after being shot during a robbery and 15 other people injured when an angry shopper used pepper spray.”

In 2008, Wal-Mart marked its PS3 (Play Station 3 game system) way down. At its Long Island store, a crowd of 2,000 gathered in front. Things got out of hand five minutes before the scheduled early morning opening. They trampled a 34-year-old employee to death.

Last year, a man was found dead at Target in South Charleston, West Va. after suffering from heart problems. Instead of reporting the incident, shoppers stepped over his body to get to their desired merchandise.

You can Google the different incidents like I did. Google popped up 27.9 million results in .29 seconds. I tried to look at every page to research this column, but sort of ran out of time. Just kidding.

My friend and fellow writer James Barlow recently described Black Friday to his Australian friend: “Black Friday is the herding of the shoppers into department stores and anyplace else where you can buy Christmas gifts on the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving Day. Stores offer major discounts on their junk. People line up like cattle, then charge like spooked buffalo, over and through anything and anyone to plunder the gifts.”

I must admit that I have never woke up early, or stayed up late, to get a discount on something on a specific day. I’ll either buy it at a higher price later when it’s more convenient, if I want it that bad, or go without.

But, many people think it’s a lot of fun to score a big ticket item for half price after waiting in line for three hours in 38-degree weather. The chase is as much fun for them as landing the prize.

And, there are those of us who partake in a leisurely Friday morning after sleeping in and miss out on all the fun.