Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday: It's Tramplin' Time!

Well, The Economy can't be in that bad a state, if America's shopperpaths are still up at 5 a.m. on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving, assembling into value-grabbing hordes to storm Wal-Marts and trample their employees.

For my part, I don't much get this whole phenomenon. I suppose my outgroup lack of understanding derives, at least in part, from the fact that my family eats its Thanksgiving dinner at dinnertime, which results in all of us staying up way too late drinking coffee and eating pie, such that not one among us — not even the kids — has even stirred by the time the zealots have begun to lay siege to America's storefronts.

That's it, Phutatorius. Blame it all on the Noon-Dinner Weirdos. As if our nation isn't divided enough.

But seriously — I don't think the tryptophan has worn off yet, and it's mid-afternoon on Friday. It just absolutely stuns me that people are able to work themselves up into such a froth before sunup.

Don't get me wrong. I've had my day. I remember back in college, during reading period, the College announced they were handing out free buffalo wings at the cafeteria. Doors would open at exactly 9 p.m. We all got worked up out in the hall and started banging on the doors. When they opened we all bum-rushed the winged-up tables on the far side of the caf. A lot of us were in full-sprint with the tables hard upon us; some people went into baseball slides to avoid bashing their abs. They came up on the far side of the tables and took flak from the servers while the rest of us looted the wing bins.

There was something exhilarating about this, but we were in college. We were young, stupid, jacked up on caffeine, and it was a reasonable hour of the day. Nobody got hurt, and the incident didn't make news — not even the campus paper.

Contrast the "adults" who ran a man over and left him to die out on Long Island today, just so they could be the first to get half off a flat-screen HDTV. You'd like there to be a Conscience Channel inserted in these jerks' cable TV packages; it would run 24-7 with images of people screaming and crying over the Black Friday casualties. How's the picture, asshole? Was it everything you wanted?

I was on the phone with a friend of mine earlier today, and we began to speculate about what causes this every year: is there something in the turkeys? Is Butterball lacing their holiday offerings with PCP, or some other time-release nefarious berserker chemical that causes anyone who ingests it to embark on rampages in relentless pursuit of high-priced consumer electronics? And, for that matter, are the turkey sellers in cahoots with Sony, Sharp, Toshiba, Vizio, Best Buy?

And any reasonable person has to start asking tough questions about security. Seems a bit absurd to me that all the Honey-Baked Ham outlets go into hard lockdown this time of the year, with rings of cordons and police details — and yet every WalMart in the country is allowed to lapse into a Hobbesian state of nature.

Yeah: I've got a lot of questions about this crap, and I have to expect I won't see them answered until the congressional subpoenas issue. In the interim, I await the upbeat stories on CNBC: sure, folks are beaten senseless and/or dying in Aisle 9, but the level of unnecessary violence indicates high consumer confidence to kick off what we thought would be a slack holiday shopping season. So hooray!

UPDATE: gunplay at a California Toys 'R' Us. Terrific. To all you folks abroad who thought that America turned a corner with Barack Obama's election, here we are playing to type again, with our Wild West shootouts over access to consumer goods. What do you want to bet the triggering "dispute" was over who had rights to the last Nintendo Wii?

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