Winter has finally hit Chicago. That first blast of cold air shouldn’t be so shocking, particularly since it’s nearly the end of November, but for whatever reason when I stepped outside of my townhouse this morning it caught my breath. And I promptly turned around, dug out my bag o’ scarves and gloves and better prepared myself for the elements. I wanted to wear my big North Face ski jacket, but it didn’t go so well with my outfit. This year I may invest in one of their big, puffy, floor length black, down filled coats, even though they aren’t particularly fashionable. The older I get, the less I care about being fashionable – I just want to be warm. I shouldn’t complain about the cold – after all, I live in Chicago. We get snow, bone-chilling cold, and bone-chilling cold wind on top of that. It is what it is.
With winter comes the holiday season. And with the holiday season comes the insane people who camp outside stores so they can be first in line for the Black Friday deals. As far as crazies, I rank these people somewhere below those who camp outside of movie theatres, who are by far the craziest, since the movie isn’t going anywhere, and about even with those who camp outside for concert or game tickets, since obviously there is a limited supply there also. I’m already seeing stories in the news about people who have claimed their spot in line – some as long as a week ago. Those are some big bragging rights, I guess: “I was first in line for the Black Friday sale at Best Buy last year, and all I had to do what sit out in the cold for six days! Beat that, suckers!” Maybe the perspective is different if you live in a place like Florida.
The camping out for Black Friday phenomenon is one I don’t understand in the least. In fact, it scares the hell out of me. Maybe it’s just my old age crabbiness, but the last place I would want to be is among the throngs clustered outside the doors of a Best Buy when they open on Black Friday. Every year we hear about people getting trampled, hit, screamed at, etc. Why would anyone intentionally participate in this? Some people consider it a tradition, and do it every year. Further, while there are sometimes a few really, really good deals, there are only a few, which means you have to be first, second, or third in line. This means that since people are crazy enough to camp out a week in advance, you are sacrificing an entire week of your life in order to save maybe $500. I don’t know, but my time is worth a lot more than that. I can’t imagine how that works out evenly on any planet, much less this one. Even a few hours of camping out would be unbearable to me, for the chance to possibly save $100, assuming the product I want is still in stock by the time I get in the store. Lord, and having to deal with all those people? Ugh. I mean, with the sheer amount of products now available, no one is going to be left without something to buy no matter what time you arrive. And isn’t it a little bizarre to be waiting in line for days on end to buy electronics? It’s not like these people are waiting in the breadlines.
Also, in reading about people determined to be at the front of the line, the thought that always strikes me is: “Don’t they work?” How do you manage to get a week off work to camp out at Best Buy? Or are they using precious vacation time to do so? Don’t their co-workers laugh at them? (I can’t even imagine the barrage of ridicule I would get if I pulled such a stunt.) Even assuming people take turns holding the spot, who is holding down the “day shift” when most people are at work? And how many people are you allowed to “hold a spot” for? I can easily imagine a situation where person 1’s entire family shows up ten minutes before store opening, and person 2 goes ballistic. The dynamics are also interesting. Any other time of the year, these people would likely be kicked off the property; yet during the week before Thanksgiving it’s perfectly fine to set up a tent, sleeping bag, and grill.
Needless to say, I will not be sitting outside of any store on Thanksgiving. Nor will I be getting up at 3 a.m. on Friday to run over to Target or Macy’s or anywhere else for a doorbuster deal. No, I will be sleeping in, lounging around, and then maybe around noon I will wander over to Michigan Avenue to take in the chaos. Unless, of course, it is too cold out. Then I will just stay home and shop from the comfort of my computer.