From Nov. 24 until the ringing in of the New Year, I find that it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
With the exception of one day.
Black Friday is the most dreadful time of the year.
I fully realize that it has almost become an economic barometer for the country, but at what cost?
This year, people were robbed at gunpoint, walked over (no, I mean literally walked over — people stepped on top of other people) and even pepper sprayed by those looking for a cheap deal on an item that they may have not bought if it were not on sale.
The crazy part about the whole phenomenon of Black Friday is that it gets worse every year, because the best YouTube videos come from people behaving badly on Black Friday.
And now, Black Friday is morphing into dark gray Thursday. There were stores that were offering deals on Thanksgiving night. Are you kidding me? This has become such a big deal that we now have to extend the most commercial of commercial holidays (be honest, that is what Black Friday has basically become) into an actually holiday that may very well be considered one of the most sacred?
Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and to be grateful to God (yeah, I said it, but I also think the whole Obama thing is being blown just a wee bit out of proportion — okay, way out of proportion) for what we have as a family. It’s a day to reflect, spend time with loved ones and get away from the world. It’s not a time to give thanks to the advertisements for showing you what you could have but probably don’t need, to reflect on what stores and Internet websites you are going to hit first and get away to Plattsburgh because the stores are opening at midnight.
I have been through one Black Friday in my life. It was two or three years ago when I decided that I needed to get some “extra credit” at home and told my wife that I would go shopping with her.
So, after a day of spending time at almost every family member’s home, eating plenty of good food, watching a little football and cozying in for the night, I did what anyone else would who had a long weekend in front of them — set my alarm for 2 a.m., which came about four hours after I set it.
Then it was off to the mall, where we parked in an already crowded lot and made our way to the front of the store. Then all the way to the side of the store. Then all the way to the back of the store. Then a little ways behind the store (mind you, this is outside the store at 3 a.m. in the morning — and not with the mild weather we are having this year).
Once the store opened after what seemed to be another hour of waiting, the shopping experience actually was not that bad. I was never tripped, ran over, maced, pepper sprayed or tazed.
But then came the line. It wrapped around three corners of the store and almost put you back where you came in. This was when I decided I needed a bathroom break, opting to use the bathroom that was the farthest away from where I was in the mall so I could enjoy a “short walk.” My wife was a little concerned that it took me an hour to go to the rest room and back, but at least she had gotten halfway to the checkout counter.
Eventually, we found our way out of that store and went to a couple of others, where the lines were much shorter because everyone had already made it through the initial surge.
This year, I was reminded that I had said at that point that we might do it every other year or something like that.
My initial thought was to siphon the gas tanks in the cars and bury my wallet.
Keith Lobdell is the editor of the Valley News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org