If I wrote the rules...

I know I don't get to write the rules of life. I know it doesn't go my way. But, after spending a few hours out in the hustle bustle and chaos of early morning Black Friday shopping it reminded me of my days working retail in the shoe department at JC Penneys. And reminded me of a life-rule I thought of waaaaaaaay back then... I honestly believe that everyone, every person who ever purchases a holiday gift (or intends to enter a retail establishment around Christmas or the holidays) MUST work retail, and MUST work at least one Black Friday and one day after Christmas. You just have no clue about how those days really run until you see it from the company side.

When you look at the consumer side, you get tunnel-visioned (or at least you can). I decided to go out shopping for the 2nd time in my life at the break of day, before the sun rises (which you know is a gigantic stretch for me...). The kids have their "wish" lists...and the major things on the list were mostly 50% or more off...so...for me it was worth it to get my backside out of bed @ 4 am (YIKES!) to head to Wal-Mart. I left knowing that if I didn't get everything I wanted, it was ok. I'm not going to lose Christmas spirit over a sale.

Flashback about 4 years to when I visited Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving to get a dual screen DVD player. I had no clue that year that people have created an art of the after Thanksgiving sale. They have lists, maps, plans, agendas, partners & co-conspirators. I pulled in the parking lot just before they opened (I don't remember if it was 4 or 5 am) and was SHOCKED to find the parking lot overloaded and people already in the store. I parked in the last row of parking spaces in one of the furthest out spots (not even really in their parking lot). Walked in, and went to where the dvd players were. I was done. I could have been out of the store in 10 minutes. But decided just to check out the rest of the story. It was a frenzy - especially in electronics & toys. And that location still had layaway - and there were people waiting in line with 2 carts while their co-horts raced around the store to grab items and stick them in the carts and head out again. Hysterical to this 1st timer.

This year wasn't much different. Since the store is open 24 hours, people were already inside. I arrived about 4:45 (sales started @ 5 am). And the store was NUTS! I mean NUTS! There were people everywhere - carts everywhere - I heard all kinds of plans brewing. And while I waited patiently to get my items I was pleasantly surprised to find people who were like me - just waiting patiently to get their "deal" - wanting to do something nice for a loved one or friend - showing generosity by sharing carts or letting people in close to them to get the item right @ 5 am. And man, you knew when it was 5 am. items were flying off displays faster than lightning. One woman, Norma, was very sweet - she and her husband had driven an hour and a half to be in Salem for Black Friday sales. Another woman talked about how she had already been to Kohl's and planned to be out of Wal-mart in 25 minutes to head off to Fred Meyer to buy socks (OHHHHHH...we gotta talk about that...)

OH...the sock thing. So...one store we like to frequent here is Fred Meyer - it is the "brother" store to Kroger where we shopped for groceries in Atlanta. On Thanksgiving I see an ad on tv for Fred Meyer - 50% off socks, showing dancing feet for the entire commercial. That's it. SOCKS! I turned to Steve and said that it was pretty ridiculous to have a sale where the only thing you can advertise is 50% off socks. What kind of sale is that? Well, come to find out apparently that's "the" thing here for day after Thanksgiving. Fred Meyers sock sale. Are you kidding me? Socks! Socks! Socks! That's it. Yep. Well, I've heard people talking about it (even in Wal-mart while waiting for their sale to begin)...but I still don't get it. Then again, I don't even like shoes either, remember. Either way - if you've never worked in retail...I dare you to get a retail job for the Christmas season. I triple-dog dare you. You'll NEVER look at shopping the same...and you'll appreciate those behind the counters, or trying to organize check-out lines, and those that are re-stocking the socks as fast as possible. But in the midst of it all, I say...don't let the preparation for the season keep you from celebrating the season...

OK...anyway - while there were the kind-hearted people, we were clearly outnumbered by the selfish, focused, unbelieveably focused and determined. They were every where. This was no more truly visible than the incredibly unfortunate incident at the Wal-Mart in Long Island where a worker lost their life just by trying to open the doors.

I don't get it. Honestly. I don't. Life is sooooo much more precious than stuff. People are sooooooo much more important than a deal. Lord, forgive us.


alishmali said...

I saw that on the news and I was soooo shocked! I've never done black friday shopping. . . I don't know if it's worth it yet to me. I really don't like seeing people so crazy.

erik w/a "k" said...



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