The day that was once only known as a Steely Dan song is alive and well, and this was one of the few years I was slated to be a part of the action. I got to witness bulls bursting through the doors at 5 AM in 2005 and 2007, cattle lined up all night long in serpentine queues in 2009 and 2010, and last year I just had to clean the post apocalyptic wasteland up. My sixth foray into this infamous time of retail insanity would be my first full-on look at what should really now be called Black Thursday, because I was one of the chosen few overnighters who got scheduled to come in at the ungodly hour of 5:00 PM.
Despite trying to adjust my sleep accordingly, my body was not fooled by this Mecca mindfuck. It knew darn good and well I not only never had to go to work at five fucking o’clock in the afternoon, but sure as hell never had to holster my box cutter on a Thursday, even if I’d just had two nights off. So needless to say, I was in zombie mode pretty much the entire afternoon/evening/late night I was there. And it certainly didn’t help that I drew exit door duty far away from the maddening crowds…
You know those big, brightly colored poles they have in front of the main doors of large stores to try and prevent smash and grab robberies as well as door greeter roadkill? For the first three and a half hours, my job was to hold one of those poles up. That wasn’t my official responsibility, of course… it was to help keep the flow of traffic coming in and out of the store moving so that a clusterfuck wouldn’t develop that might keep someone from getting their damned X-box in time. But being non-confrontational, I pretty much just leaned on the pole and glared at those who exited the door and came to a sudden standstill… most of whom were off-the-clock morning shifters who decided to take that precise moment in time to pause and bask in the glory of what they were able to buy by drawing the early duty that their co-workers couldn’t.
While the first half of my job was pretty damn boring, it could have been worse since we’re notorious for getting Thanksgiving ice storms. The weather was actually balmy for late November, and the rain held off until after the throng of shopping sheep had left. Of course, my position meant I was also a good distance away from the war zones inside the store that began flaring up in anticipation of the magical 6:00 hour when all of the special garbage could be officially sold. I still got some pretty great reactions from frazzled customers as they left the store. Allow me to share a few of them with you…
“This is fucking retarded! I just bought this shit, why do they gotta check my fucking receipt at the door?”
Good question, Mr. Douchebag. I guess that could have something to do with the fact that with nearly 1,000 people in the store, there just might possibly be a few people who’d get the funny idea to maybe, you know, bypass those registers and just try to walk out with a few big screens amid the chaos. Sorry we wasted about 20 seconds of your precious time proving your honesty that could have been better spent sticking the turkey timer up your ass once you got home.
“It’s nuts in there! I only came here to buy a pair of shoes and had no idea it was Black Friday!”
It’s bad enough that you somehow had no idea there were Black Friday sales going on this evening that might interrupt your otherwise mundane shopping trip. It’s even more comically idiotic when you consider that Black Friday sales are the only reason there were stores even open on Thanksgiving in the first place.
“Now where did I park my car…?”
-Every third customer out the door
This ranks right up there with not thinking to grab a shopping cart on the way in the doors as one of the most frustratingly stupid things customers do that leads to all kinds of trouble for them. The rows are clearly numbered, you know it’s going to be busier than a dog with three dicks… is it really that much of a hassle to make a mental note of where the fuck you parked your damned minivan? Maybe you’ll recognize the sound of your car alarm after someone busts out your drivers side window and steals all of your Adele CD’s…
“Three squad cars? The shopping must be really intense inside!”
-A real winner, upon noticing the trio of police cars parked in the fire lane
First time at a Black Friday sale, Rookie? Boy are you in for a surprise…
And if I had an acorn for every time someone’s shit fell out of their overstuffed carts on the way out the doors, I wouldn’t have to buy squirrel corn for a year. Really, folks, the economy can’t be all that bad if losers from my hoosier town can roll out the door with cartloads of useless junk that even on sale still cost them a paycheck or two…
Eventually, me and my pole-supporting cohorts got pulled back inside the store to help in the postwar cleanup… though I did get one more jaw dropping experience with a Black Friday customer from hell just after 11:00 when the buzzer to our receiving door rang as I was trying to do something useful back there.
Surely there are no deliveries scheduled for Thanksgiving night! It turned out to be some chick waving a proof of purchase ticket for a trampoline in front of the plexiglass, and demanding her trampoline. I told her that stuff was being handed out from the Automotive bay, which is clear on the other side of the store. Realizing I was not about to pull a trampoline out of my ass, her significant other came to the rescue and decided that the best way to get their trampoline was to act like a complete asshole.
He took the paper from his dearly beloved, held it clearly up to the window in the door and pointed angrily at it. “You see this? I paid for this trampoline, and I expect to get my trampoline now!” When I reiterated that the large items were being handed out in automotive, and made the terrible mistake of insinuating that because the sale was already over 5 hours old (and we were within an hour of closing… yes, we closed at midnight on the biggest shopping night of the year!), that there may not even be anyone over there anymore to dole them out.
“You better get someone else for me to talk to, bro!”
Fortunately, it took me forever to find someone else for Vanilla Ice to talk to… by which time he and his ho drove a little farther and became the problem of those who happened to be at the receiving dock on the other end of the store. At least that was close enough to Automotive for someone to simply point and say, “Yo’ trampoline’s ova’ THERE, mothafucka!”
Well, that’s about all the excitement I have from the sidelines of this year’s Black Friday sale. Until next year, let’s keep the holiday shopping atmosphere safe and respectable for everyone out there to enjoy!