Door Busters, 12-day waits and shopping frenzy

There are people, even now, camped out waiting to buy big-screen televisions; they got in line 12 days early. The big-box stores are opening early for Black Friday this year, on Thanksgiving Thursday night to be exact. I wrote about this last week, and many of you told me on Facebook that you too promised not to participate. Don’t the store employees alone deserve our boycott? “Let them eat turkey!” should be our new cry. Marie Antoinette would be pleased.

“Black Friday” has its own website so that you can find out ahead of time what and where the sales are, and you can even get pre-Black-Friday specials or book a cheap flight to Vegas on Black Friday through Southwest Airlines.

I’m remembering a story about riots on Long Island at a Walmart in 2008, and the fact that someone died. In an article in the Sunday Times in the UK back then, a woman was quoted saying, “The shop had to open 15 minutes early because the doors were about to give in…. When they finally opened, it was like being caught in a crashing wave. You’re completely powerless. I remember falling face first into the shop and then scrambling on my hands and knees to try to get to one side. It was terrifying – and all I wanted was a cheap pair of jeans.”

“All I wanted was a cheap pair of jeans,” she said. And yet she had to risk death to get ’em.

What about “Toy Madness” at Toys “R” Us? Are we willing to go mad for toys… or haven’t we already? “Madness” in this context sounds like it’s supposed to be fun, festive, inviting. Instead it makes me think of Old Yeller and his hydrophobia. The poor dog had to be shot when the drooling, staggering, and snarling started and it was thus determined that he had the dreaded “hydrophobia” (rabies), which is a synonym for madness. Do we want that?

People, we can now shop 24/7! That’s a big “DUH!” if you are thinking internet shopping. But we can also go in the middle of the night to any number of stores (places that are bad enough in the light of day). Just because we CAN do something doesn’t mean we should. I can also play darts nude in the driveway if I want to. But I probably shouldn’t. And won’t.

So with stores open round the clock and advertising “Crazy Sales” and “Hysterical Savings” and “Shopping Fanatics” and “Buying Bonanzas,” what exactly do we need so badly? What are we trying to solve? And will this do it?

The idea of stores creating hysteria so customers can have a big adventure so they can buy televisions on which to watch other people’s supposedly more interesting lives is backasswards as they say.

Let’s create our own excitement. Let’s come up with creative ways to spend time. Let’s give our children toilet paper tubes to play with. Okay, somebody’s reading and thinking I’ve gone more mad than Target has. But seriously, a kid will have more fun making up something to do than playing with plastic crap that only does one thing. And a parent will have more peace staying home and supervising toilet-paper-roll puppet making than fighting traffic and crowds at the mall.

When a store tells you that they’re having a “Door Buster” sale and that it’s “Shopping Madness,” take them at their word and stay home. You’ll live longer, and maybe you’ll send a message to the store owners who open the doors because they think we’ll come.

And while you’re at it, sign the petition as I did at www.change.org to stop “Thanksgiving Creep.”

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