At around 11:30pm on the night of Thanksgiving Day I got in my car, thinking I was ready for the mission I was about to embark on. I had just finished off a pot of coffee and my hands were shaking from running on massive amounts of caffeine combined with no sleep. I drove the 15 minutes to the nearest Wal-Mart and already there were droves of people clambering into the store. I tried to ignore it. I had a few items in mind, and I was going to get in, get out, and that was that. It wasn’t a high ticket item like a TV, just a few small items that were about $20 less than their original prices.
It didn’t take me too long to figure out that while my plan seemed so simple on paper, there was no way I was going to accomplish it as easily as I had originally thought possible. People were already fighting over ridiculous items that they probably didn’t need: $3 hand mixers that would stop working in a few weeks, slow cookers that would fit about 1 cup of soup in them, and dare I say it, pillow pets (a new fad amongst children that I will never understand, though possibly one step up in comparison to the rubber bands of last year).
Again, I tried to ignore the madness around me. I had my eyes locked in on the last item I needed. I was going to grab it, get in line, and get out of there. After I had the item in hands, I turned to find the line. The line to check out was all the way in the back of the store. “No big deal,” I thought to myself. It wasn’t even midnight yet, so technically the cashiers weren’t allowed to start ringing people out. Once people began getting ringed out, the line would move quickly and my mission would almost be complete.
Midnight came and went, and before I knew it I had been standing in line for over an hour waiting to purchase the few items I had in hand. People all around were still scrambling all over the place, throwing useless items into their cart and basing their purchase decisions purely off the fact that it was a “good deal”. I looked to my left, and saw that a security guard had started forming new lines. Was it the people who had already been standing in line that got a place closer to the front? I don’t think I really need to answer this, but no, it was not. It was people who had just finished shopping and were looking to get in line. Instead of continuing to wait in my line that was taking forever, I became one of the mob and rushed over to a newer, shorter line that had just formed.
About 15 minutes later I was out of the store, items in hand, mission complete. But was it worth it?
The total savings on the purchases I made amounted to about $25. I had ended up waiting in line for 1 hour and 45 minutes. I later found out that the same exact purchases could have been made online, for the same price, with free-shipping. Do I regret going out at midnight and being a part of the mob? Absolutely. I did, however, learn my lesson.
“Black Friday” is no longer a time when parents can get up a little early and go to the store to get decent savings on toys, not to mention all of their Christmas shopping done. It has become a day that brings out the worst in people, as they scramble and push their way towards items that they don’t actually need or want. It’s a time that employees of big retailers dread – waking up early to deal with pushy customers that have bad attitudes and the never-ending flood of complaints.
Take it from my experience – it is no longer worth it to get up early the day after Thanksgiving and go shopping. Take advantage of the internet instead – most of the savings from big retailers are the same except for they don’t entail being pushed around and waiting in endless lines.