My Black Friday Shopping Ban

Everywhere I’ve gone this weekend, people have asked if I went shopping on Black Friday.  My response this weekend is the same as it has been in years past: There is nothing I need or want badly enough to go shopping on Black Friday. 

Maybe that doesn’t make sense to you.  After all, there all those “bargains” in the ads in Thursday’s paper, right?  Yeah, whatever.  You’ve heard the phrase, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”, right?  What about this one: “You get what you pay for.”  Having worked in retail during college, I believe both of these phrases.  I also believe having worked in the jewelry department of a now-defunct catalog showroom scarred me for life when it comes to Black Friday.

See, here’s the thing: my college years were during the height of the “pink ice” phenomenon.  I will never forget standing in the middle of the jewelry department when the store manager opened the doors at 6:00 a.m.  (Clearly I am dating myself; everyone knows that midnight is the new 6:00 a.m.)  We went from having no one around the counter, to having people lined up 10-deep around the counter in less than sixty seconds, and it seemed as if every. single. one. of them was shouting out something about pink ice.  The ones who weren’t were hot to trot over the gold herringbone necklace we had on sale for $20.  Let me just tell you, twenty dollars does not get you a whole lot of gold necklace.  Rap star thick it was not.  But you’d be surprised at the number of people who apparently anticipated it would be identical to their favorite rap mogul’s chain, and who got cranky when they realized that something more in line with their way of thinking was priced significantly higher than twenty bucks.   

But back to the pink ice.  Do you know how many times I heard the question, “Do y’all got any more of them little ol’ pank ice rings?”  Yes, I typed “pank”, and I typed “pank” on purpose.  Just as I typed that grammatically horrifying sentence on purpose.  We oftentimes were not dealing with the best or the brightest.  I still hear that question in the back of my mind.  I think the second most popular question about the dreadful little pink ice ring (that sold for $18.88 on Black Friday, by the way), was “Is this real pink ice?”  Um, folks, you do realize that nonsense was nothing more than a colored cubic zirconia, right?  So yeah, it was “real”, and by “real”, I mean as “real” as a man-made stone can be.  [Insert eye-roll here.]  You can just imagine the thickness of the 10K band the “little pank ice ring” sported, for the vast sum of $18.88, right?  And of course, that lovely little bauble came in a standard size 6.  Needless to say, a large number of the people purchasing these rings did not have standard sized fingers.  Astoundingly, they thought the store should size those ridiculous little rings for free.  Right then.  While they waited.  It was dreadful.  It was so traumatic that even now, three years of law school and thirteen years of practicing law later, I still shudder from the vivid memories.

Lucky for me, I was really quick on the cash register, so after a couple of years of Black Friday duty, I was assigned the task of standing at one of the two registers in the jewelry department ringing up other people’s sales.  This rocked for a couple of reasons.  First, at Christmas the store hired lots of temporary help.  The temporary help usually hadn’t logged enough register time to become very speedy, so they often slowed down progress at a time we really needed to be ringing sales rapidly.  Assigning people to the registers helped move things along at a faster clip.  And of course, being one of the people assigned to the register meant I didn’t have to wait on customers during the initial rush that morning.  SCORE!!

I worked at that job for five consecutive Black Fridays.  When I graduated from college (and from my job in retail), there was nothing in me that said, “Ooh! You don’t have to go to work before daylight; why don’t you get up and go shopping instead?” when Black Friday rolled around.  Rather, I was inspired to sleep — which is exactly what I have done every year since.  

Whatever money I might save by lining up in the cold in the pre-dawn hours and fighting hoards of frenzied shoppers to obtain my target item is simply not worth it to me.  Let me say this another way: I’m not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination — believe me; I am intimately familiar with the figure on my paycheck and how far it doesn’t go — but preserving my sanity is worth more to me than the few extra dollars I might save by shopping on Black Friday.  Said still another way, I really don’t like people, so shopping with scads of them on the busiest shopping day of the year does not excite me.  In fact, as mouthy as I tend to be, it’s likely I’d end up the subject of a story on the evening news — and not in a good way.

So, to answer your question, no, I did not go shopping on Black Friday.  I never have, and I hope to die a very old woman still able to say that.  To those of you who did shop on Friday, good for you.  I’m sure you have lots of fabulous stories as a result that will make me envious in a blog-fodder-envy sort of way, but to me, it’s still not worth it.  
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