Saturday, December 1, 2007

Black Friday

Here in the good ole U S of A we have a wonderful tradition on the Friday following Thanksgiving. It is on this day that the Christmas shopping season officially begins. In recent years this day has become known as Black Friday, due to it's importance to the bottom line of many retailers.

Over the last few years it has become the trend for many large retailers to offer what they call "early bird specials" on Black Friday. These specials are usually phenomenal deals on big ticket items such as computers and HD TVs that only the first few people in the door at opening time get.

As it turns out, this year I was drastically in need of not one, but two new computers. My daughter entered high school this year and was sorely in need of a laptop, and the computer I had at home was roughly the same model that God used to e-mail the Ten Commandments to Moses.

To my delight, both Best Buy and Circuit City were having really good Black Friday deals on laptops and desktop PCs, so I jumped into the fray. My Black Friday experience was enough to make me decide that from now on I will pay standard retail or buy ones that have "fallen off of a truck."

My foray into the world of early birds started with my setting up camp outside Circuit City at 9 P.M. Thanksgiving day. I thought I was being sly by getting there eight hours before opening with a camp chair, a thermos, and a sleeping bag. As it turned out I was number 52 in line behind people who had brought tents, battery operated televisions, portable heaters, and had support teams to bring them fresh coffee, and food. I was quite a rookie, and way out of my league, but I stuck it out.

During the next 8 hours I got very little sleep, but did manage to witness the true meaning of Christmas. The lack of sleep wasn't due to the sub freezing temperatures or off and on light rain, because my sleeping bag is the one I use quite often on mountaineering and rock climbing trips, and is quite bombproof in such conditions. No, the lack of sleep was due to the constant barrage of idiocy that seemed to be centered in the line ahead of me.

I was pulled from slumber twice due to local rednecks making rather rude and unwelcome propositions to the very attractive young woman in line in front of me. The first one left after she called him something in Hindi (she is of Indian descent) which she later told me roughly translated as a shit eating dog. The second guy left only after I told him that if he didn't I would [paraphrased] feed him his manhood. After that incident she called her brother who came with coffee for me, and company for her until the opening bell.

My beauty sleep was later interrupted when local law enforcement arrived to resolve an argument about someones place in line, or lack thereof. Following a five minute conversation, the officers escorted three people out of line and off the property which moved me to number 49.

Things were quiet after that until 4 A.M. when store employees started handing out vouchers. It was this presentation of golden tickets that we were all in line for. It seems that in years past retail establishments have had problems with fights over who gets in the door first, so they began handing out vouchers for the items on sale. These things are hot tickets because there may only be a few of a particularly hot item in stock so the early bird does in fact get the worm.

Due to my rookie status and high place in line I missed out on the laptop voucher, but I was lucky enough to get a desktop voucher. I felt like I had won the lottery because I got the last one. Thank Frodo those idiots arguing with the police got escorted away. Anyway, with my precious voucher in hand I was foolish enough to think my experience with greed and gluttony was over--once again I was proving just how much of a rookie I was.

Shopping day in AmericaWhen the doors finally opened I was damned near trampled to death by the horde of electronics junkies behind me, because I wasn't in enough of a hurry to get inside. Then once inside I decided to check out some of the other deals, and give the voucher lines time to die down a bit.

As I was looking around, I noticed a particularly good deal on a digital camera that would be a suitable replacement for one that got destroyed in a rather long fall off of a mountain in Columbia a few months ago. As I reached for the camera I was all but assaulted by an extremely obese woman who had eyed the same camera. Luckily my reflexes were better than hers so I got the camera and managed to not loose a limb in the process. She called me names in some rather un-ladylike manner, but then moved off to swallow other less agile shoppers.

This ordeal was followed by a 90 minute qeue to pay for my hardfought booty.

Granted, I got an incredible deal on a great computer (with which I am writing this story) and have a shiny new camera for my upcoming trips to Red River Gorge, New River Gorge, and the Creation Museum in Kentucky, but I vow to never again put my self in such peril just to save a few hundred dollars.

Oh, and in case you are wondering--I later found a really good deal on laptops that I didn't have to enter Gladiator school to get, so my daughter is currently IMing away with some 17 year old boy who isn't aware that I not only know his name, but his address and what he looks like.

So, Happy Christmahanaquanzica everybody.

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