Black Friday: a guilty pleasure

In Opinion, Top Stories

It’s 3:45 in the morning. My stomach is upset over the amount of pumpkin pie I gorged myself on the night before. I’m standing in the chilly darkness and I’m surrounded by a crowd of pushy mothers and grandmothers.

I should be in bed, but instead I’m waiting in an unfathomable line for Target’s Black Friday event to begin. A shiver creeps up my back and I ask myself, “Why am I doing this to myself again?”

The irate mothers are starting to get restless. Did that kid cut in front of me in line? I don’t think I can handle the pressure of waiting with these people any longer, until, like Saint Peter, the store manager opens the doors to retail heaven and starts ushering people in, 20 at a time.

Once I’ve finally made my way inside the Target, I fight and claw all the way to the to the electronics section. I take out a granny or two in the process and locate the FlipCam I had my eye on for the last month. Oh no, there’s only one left and it happens to be in the clutch of a little girl! Her weak, little hands can’t hold onto the camera for long, and eventually, I walk out of the store with my prize.

So my re-enactment of last year’s Black Friday may be a little over-dramatized, but that’s pretty close to what I experience every year. The hours are unjust, the crowds are ridiculous and the tensions are sky-high. So why do I continue to be drawn annually into the vicious trap of Black Friday sales?

Case in point—the deals.

Let’s face it, the only other place I would be able to buy a FlipCam for myself at a 40 percent markdown is a pawn shop, and it would probably have to be a stolen one.

Black Friday is where I get most of my holiday shopping done: I shop at Target for my sister and I, Staples for my father and I, Macy’s for my mother and I, and whatever’s left at Best Buy is just for me.

Apparently, a big chunk of America also gets its shopping done the morning after Thanksgiving. According to the National Retail Federation, total spending in 2010 for Black Friday hit $45 billion. The NRF said, “212 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 195 million last year.” Clearly Black Friday is worth it for some people.

I always get asked, “Why don’t you just stay home and shop online? The deals are just as great and you can order at your convenience.”

My retort always comes, smartly, in the form of another question. What other time of the year do you have a chance to push over mean, old ladies and pry expensive electronics out of a little girl’s hands? Why sit behind a computer screen when you can be part of the action?

Black Friday is like a sport—an ugly, terrible competition. It gets your adrenaline pumping and your wallet open. I enjoy the pressure of fighting with everyone for that prized item just as much as I enjoy the thrill of winning it. I like seeing the mothers squabble in line when someone cuts or when Target runs out of their free promotional totes and can’t hand them out anymore.

Most of all, I love seeing people cry over losing.

For me, Black Friday is almost as much of an American tradition as Thanksgiving. It’s a combination of my two favorite things: shopping and squabbling. In my own weird way, Black Friday is like paradise. And hey, it beats cleaning up the Thanksgiving mess from last night.

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