First of all, you need to understand that I am not a shopper. If faced with a few free hours my first inclination is not to go to the mall. I shop when I need or want something specific. Even when I go, I shop, I find, I buy. Knowing this you will naturally understand why I have never found it necessary to get up before dawn on the Friday after Thanksgiving to go buy stuff that surely I will find during my Christmas shopping ritual. While I do approach Christmas shopping differently than normal shopping, it’s never been worth it to me to get up at some horribly early morning to shop. I enjoy Christmas shopping for the loved ones on my list and finding the ultimate gift to fit the person.
Except for this year; I’m writing this 48 hours after the experience because it has taken me that long to recover. You see, my husband wanted a new computer for Christmas and we were considering one for Cole as well. We shopped it online Thanksgiving night and found that a local store with low, low prices were having a doorbuster sale starting at five in the morning. Five in the morning, did I love my husband enough to get up at four thirty and go out in the cold for the purchase? Yes, I do. So I printed the ad and set the alarm.
The alarm went off and I got up, brushed my teeth and washed my face grabbed the ad and left. When I turned on the car the radio was playing Christmas music. I thought “how cool, this could be fun.” The neighborhood was quiet. It was an easy drive to the store with the low, low prices. Then I turned onto the road to the store, came over the rise and there before me was a sea of cars. I had never seen so many cars in the parking lot. They were even parked at the gas pumps and the pharmacy drive-through. Remember the sale was to start at five, it was four fifty-five when I pulled into the parking lot.
I parked in the back of the store, grabbed my ad to go in find the computers choose the one I came for, buy it and leave; as you can guess it didn’t turn out that way.
I walked into the store to immediately see checkout lines a mile long. It was just then seven minutes after five how were their carts already full! There were people everywhere hauling big screen televisions, clothing and toys. There was a kiosk of movies that looked like a beehive swarming. I tried to get a peek but decided to stay focused on my mission. To look around and find my route to electronics I saw faces of people not filled with Christmas joy or the joy of buying the cool presents for those they love. Children were crying. I saw blank stares and intense glares at anyone who would get in their way. I was in over my head. Weaving and bobbing through the aisles, I found electronics and laptop computers.
There I was — chaos all around — staring at an empty case. I kept looking at the ad in my hand and the case and no computers appeared. A woman standing next to me had a computer in her arm. I asked which model it was. It was, in fact, the one I was looking for. She was very helpful to tell me that those computers were being distributed down in hunting and fishing.
To get to hunting and fishing I had to navigate through toys. When I looked down the main aisle through the forest of games and toys and parents running amuck with lists, I reaffirmed my mission and purpose and headed straight through. On the other side, I found a cashier, a long line and a pallet of computers. When I asked if this was the line for the computers I was told yes, but I needed a voucher. A voucher? I was pointed to a worker a few feet away who was handing out the vouchers. Great; I go ask the lady for a voucher. She told me she didn’t have anymore. Didn’t have any more? The sale started less than fifteen minutes ago? How could they have been out? I thanked the lady. Looked at the line that I would not have a voucher to join and made my way back through the store.
I considered other shopping when I came to my senses and looked around at the crazed shoppers. I had to leave the mayhem and craziness. I just wanted to go home. Where were my ruby slippers? Driving home, I kept recanting the whole experience. I didn’t understand what all the hubbub was all about. There was nothing fun about my experience. To see all those people with full carts you would have thought they were giving everything away. I really wanted to say to someone, “you know you have to pay for all that.” But I guess they knew that.
This was not the Christmas spirit, it was retail mayhem. Inutsonut so. This was no way to launch into a season of silent night holy night. This experience needed to be trained for, it wasn’t for the casual shopper. Someone should have warned me.
I may have to pay a little more for that one “must-have” item. There was nothing about that experience that helped me feel the Christmas spirit. And I’m pretty sure anything I would have saved I would have spent with my therapist getting over my PTSD (post traumatic SHOPPING disorder).
P.S. — It’s been several years, still the thought of early morning black Friday shopping gives me a stomach ache. As long as I don’t feel any absolute need to make a specific purchase I can go out in the afternoon just for the fun of it.