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My worst shopping experience occurred during the Black Friday sale in 2001. I have been a faithful deal seeker all my life but had never taken part in this shopping tradition. With Christmas approaching and a toddler to buy gifts for, I headed out to find some deals. I wrangled a few friends into going with me and I’m glad I did because I don’t think they would have believed what happened if they weren’t there.
WalMart was our destination. To beat the crowds (I say laughingly) we chose a store outside the city. At 4 am, we stood in the brisk November weather queuing up for our chance at steals and deals. We shared a common excitement and spent our time nervously chattering in the cold until we could enter the store. Piles of people joined us, just as determined to get their holiday shopping completed.
Shopping is hardly the term I should use to describe it. The doors opened, carts rattled and at least 100 women screamed for no apparent reason. Sales associates scampered out of the way as palettes were uncovered and the holiday madness ensued.
Woody dolls were flying of the shelves as was anything that wasn’t nailed down. I turned my back to sort through a sale bin only to turn around and find that my buggy had been pillaged. I saw the back of the white-haired buggy lifter as she skirted down the aisle with some of my goodies. Disgusted, I decided she could have it. Besides there was no way I could negotiate what was left of my goodies without hurting someone.
Finally, I had my fill of deal seeking and basket protecting. I found the other members of my party and together we headed to the front of the store. Apparently, everyone finished shopping at the same time because the lines backed down the aisles.
The happiness of finding deals quickly dissipated, as we stood in line. I was dreaming of my warm bed until a loud scream shook me out of my stupor. Three buggies ahead of me was a woman who had a buggy full of items and children. A little boy was screaming about the bathroom but Mom refused to budge. After a few minutes of listening to him scream and seeing him dance, I felt sorry for the poor kid. Since Mom wasn’t going to take him to the bathroom, I figured I’d offer to keep her place in line.
Wrong idea. She quickly put me in my place saying, “Excuse me? Is there a problem?” I assumed she misunderstood my intention but she was so loud and obnoxious I turned away red-faced. I got a few sympathetic looks but nobody said a word.
Finally, the little boy pulled down his pants and urinated on the floor. The mother stood there acting as if she did not see him. As the line moved up, shoppers tiptoed around the urine until a pimple-faced sales associate mopped up.
I never returned to that store again.
More from this contributor:
How to Avoid Fraud During the Holidays
Tips for Holiday Shopping With Toddlers
Guide to Christmas Shopping on a Budget