If there is any contemporary event the most closely resembles the apocalypse it’s Black Friday or some horrific disaster that I’m belittling by making that joke. Though he’s hung up his one armed leather jacket, Jim was once the Mad Max of Black Friday. Here he relives one of his greatest moves.
I’ve seen a lot of Black Fridays.
I’ve worked them at book stores and video game stores, ringing up items as fast as scanners could scan and fingers could key. I’ve shopped them, getting in line outside Best Buy at 5am for a deal that was truly a once-a-year chance. Black Friday has changed.
(It helps if you read the above paragraph in Old Snake voice.)
In all seriousness, I am an avid Black Friday shopper.
For some reason, I love the rush of mad commerce. It’s like San Diego Comic-Con, except everywhere and the cosplayers only dress as elves or Santa Claus.
It’d become tradition at our family Thanksgiving for adventurous siblings to head out Friday morning and get super-awesome gifts for the price of regular-awesome gifts. (To be honest, I’d get the occasional thing for myself, too.) Me? I’d already have the course charted, having made a plan of attack by perusing leaked sales ads online.
But with the advent of retailers constantly trying to beat each other to the punch, they keep moving it earlier and earlier. Black Friday now starts on Thursday. Not Thursday night, but Thursday day– In the case of Toys R Us, their doorbusters start at 5pm. Five? FIVE!? That’s accidentally-on-purpose-scooping-a-too-big-serving-of-sweet-potato-casserole-with-pecan-topping time!
A few years ago, out of sheer spite, I decided to try and outwit the system. (This was when Black Friday started at 10pm Thursday.) A week earlier, I’d learned that Target decided one of their doorbusters would be Xbox Live point cards at half off. Seeing as how almost everyone on my gift list had a 360, I figured this would be a super-awesome gift at a regular-awesome gift price.
The Monday of Thanksgiving week, I grabbed a small stack of point cards off the shelf peg at my local target and hid them elsewhere in the store. Just enough for my shopping list and a few for myself as well. (I wasn’t going to hoard more than I needed because that’d be a dick move.)
When my brother and I got to Target Thanksgiving night, I went to the hiding spot in an uncrowded deal-less part of the store, grabbed my stash of cards, bought ‘em and felt pleased with myself that I, in some way, had pulled one over on the douchebag marketing executive that, in infinite wisdom, decided Thursday should be Friday. (I do not recommend trying this with large doorbusters, like televisions. They do not fit behind cans of roach spray.)
Operation Xbox Live Points was my final Solid Snake Black Friday doorbuster mission. No more Tactical Shopping Action for me.
Come Friday, my brothers, sisters and I will still head out for the Black Friday experience. The retail insanity will be less insane. There won’t be any Tickle Me Elmo-style fistfights. We’ll sit down for lunch, see a movie, then head back home and have mad Scrabble wars on the dining room table with leftover ham and whatever sweet potato casserole with pecan topping left uneaten by me the day before.
But a full 24 hours before actual Friday, I’ll be in my pajamas at midnight Thanksgiving morning, doing all my hardcore Black Friday shopping online. It’s not as fun, the sense of adventure is gone and I don’t get the same victorious rush of grabbing a coveted deal off the shelf when I’m simply clicking “Complete Order” on a screen.
But I still get my super-awesome gifts at regular-awesome gift prices.
Black Friday has changed.
Want a free story about Pilgrims that doesn’t involve eating?
Of course you do.
Together with his Croatan companion, Umpagos, Jonathan Parker searches the new world to locate and destroy the monsters of Native American “mythology.”
In this story he hunts the dreaded demon Ato-sis.
This months newsletter will also include an exclusive story called How to Host an Intervention.