It may be nothing more than urban legend, but I keep hearing rumors that a dozen or more local Black Friday shoppers are still missing, one week later.
A female bargain-hunter from Burnt Hills did call home to say she was safe and was still in line at a big-box store; she was not sure what store, also not sure what the bargain item was, but others in line assured her it was 60 percent off.
We are told that Black Friday sales exceeded $52 billion this year, a whopping 16 percent increase over last year. And that does not take into account Cyber Monday or American Express’ Small Business Saturday. Eventually, each day of that week will be given its own title to make the cash registers sing, as in “I Inherited The Store From My Father-in-Law And I Haven’t Got A Clue What I’m Doing So We Really Could Use The Sales” Thursday.
Of course, TV news keeps harping that the record sales do not come without a price, making a big fuss over all the injuries and the assaults as folks engaged in competitive shopping for those so-called “doorbuster” sales items. I call it nothing more than “collateral damage.” Any given Sunday in the NFL, you’ve got yourself a bunch of strained quad-ceps or whatever it is they call them, not to mention at least one “turf toe.” Remember, 226 million Americans were out there in the trenches on Black Friday and 225,999,999 of them did not pepper-spray their fellow Xbox seekers.
And I see signs of an emerging Black Friday etiquette. Yes, two women were injured this year in Rome (the New York one) and had to be carted away, and there were some shootings outside malls in South Carolina and northern California and some sort of stun gun incident in Florence, Ala., but no fatalities. I see indications that shoppers now are clearing paths for the ambulances to get close to the shooting victims (some friendly advice for the ambulance crews, however: Do not try to buy any of the reduced-price merchandise while on an emergency run — it could inflame the crowd). And I simply cannot imagine happening today what happened three years ago in Valley Stream, Long Island, when people kept shopping up close as EMTs tended to the lifeless body of a Walmart clerk who had been crushed to death in what everyone agreed was an overly aggressive “doorbuster” maneuver for a 50-inch Samsung TV going for less than $800.
I first witnessed this power-shopping phenomenon many years ago at Filene’s Basement in Boston, where not a few of the women were undressing right in the aisles to try on the 50-percent-off Jones New York slacks. Modesty be damned! They were not about to waste valuable time to and from a dressing room. I was shocked and considered complaining to management about these women undressing right in front of me, but I calmed down and resolved instead to offer a prayer for the offending women.
According to a published report a few days ago, a juror in an Albany County murder trial warned the judge that he would not be able to deliberate along with his fellow jurors on Black Friday because his wife planned some competitive shopping for that date. The judge, who obviously has never felt the competitive shopping rush, told the guy that his wife’s shopping was not as important as deliberating whether three men should each get 25 years to life. Imagine that?
Look, it would not surprise me at all if power-shopping becomes an ESPN sport (as opposed to a real sport) right up there with
Australian football and English darts. Uniforms, coaches, rules, contract hassles — everything you have come to expect in any sport will comprise power-shopping as well. Let Hemingway have his Pamplona — we will have the running of the shoppers!
P.S. If ever you see me out shopping on Black Friday, you have my authorization to run me over in the parking lot. I hereby promise not to call Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.