Monday, November 26, 2012

Walkers On Aisle 7 (Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Mall)

So...this happened...


And all I could think of was this (turn your sound down. It's ...weird):

Credit: youtube

The first video was taken at a Wal-Mart in my home town. In fact, it's the Wal-Mart where I generally shop. The only reason--and I do mean only--that I was not there for this Black Friday massacre is that I was at another location closer to my house. The second is from AMC's The Walking Dead, and really makes me think that the zombie apocalypse is already upon us, and we just haven't noticed.

Yes. Yes, I went into the fray on Black Friday Eve (formerly known as Thanksgiving). It's not something I've ever done before, but Thomas and I have been looking to replace the prehistoric television (it's a box!) in our bedroom for some time, and Wally World was rumored to have one in the perfect size for the perfect price. It was kind of a now or never type of deal. There is no way I would have ever attempted to brave the store otherwise.

I can honestly say that I've never experienced anything like it, and I've worked Black Fridays in both a mall coffee shop and a New York chocolate boutique, not to mention a major department store. You could barely move inside the store. The aisles were filled with palettes of items to be sold only at specified times, and the few clear bits of aisle were taken up by people waiting in lines for those items. Periodically, uniformed officers would sweep those aisles to prevent impatient folks from tearing into the plastic wrap and taking what they wanted before the sales event began. They also served as armed guards for the poor employees who had to deliver the palettes to the floor. The actual departments within the store were roped off with caution tape, forming makeshift Disneyland queues through ladies' pajamas and produce. On top of that, all around, exhausted shoppers were sitting or lying on the floor, resting, while protecting their precious packages. I alsmost ran over one with a cart. It wasn't even my cart. I was just trying to squeeze past it, and didn't see a man slumped on the ground beside it.

The employees were wonderful, helpful, and even patient, but the patrons were anything but. I was stepped on, yelled at, and tugged on, and that was just trying to walk past the shoe section. I grasped onto Thomas' hand, just so we could stay together in the ebb and flow of the crowd. When we finally figured out where our queue began, we were issued a ticket for our item. On the ticket was the number 7 in a circle. I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for that, but all we could figure was that was Wal-Mart shorthand for being in the Seventh Circle of Hell.

We got our TV. We even got to pay for it, even though that was another hour of trying to decipher where the lines began, and where they split apart again. The entire ordeal was a nightmare, even without the Romero reenactment.

The next morning, I picked my mother and brother up for our traditional 6AM Black Friday shopping at the mall. There was almost no one there. I walked into Bath and Body Works, and was at the counter within five minutes. The first 200 people at Customer Service received gift bags, and I was able to mosey up to the desk and get one. I honestly only did that to kill some time waiting on Mom to check out at Hollister. JCPenney's had some long lines, but the people in them were in good spirits and were polite and patient. What used to be the time for the "crazies" to fight it out over toasters and trinkets has now become, dare I say, quaint. Rising before dawn for Doorbusters is downright sweet, these days.

You know what? You can keep your camping out at Best Buy and your 10pm Wal-Mart zombie attacks. Who needs Midnight openings when you can enjoy a well-earned Turkey coma? I'll just stick to being quaint, thank you.

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