Lemon County: Shop 'Till You Drop...
Black Friday Shopping...
It’s all about perspective. I had the opportunity to take my little boat three miles out to sea on a perfect day. She-Who-Is-Adored, Son One, and I, were able to look back at Lemon County sitting there in all her pristine glory. Smooth blue water led the eye to the sandy beaches and the tiny homes dotted along the coast. Over the jumble of the houses on the hillsides, you could see Humpback Mountain in detail, and tucked behind her were the snowcapped mountains of the San Bernardino’s.
Looking south we could see Oceanside hiding behind a distant haze, and looking north lay Palos Verdes, sun glinting off unknown windows.
Nestled between Los Angeles and San Diego counties, lay our little piece of heaven. No traffic could be heard, though a faint ribbon of cars could be seen on part of the 405, along with the trains intermittently running along the coastal track. The sun was shining, there was just enough of a breeze to move the sails, and the sea was a millpond.
At the same time as we were doing this, hundreds of thousands of shoppers were scurrying like demented ants in a heat wave, through Black Friday. I’m not exactly sure what drives people to want to spend the day after Thanksgiving torturing themselves in this fashion, but it is quite the phenomenon.
Maybe it is a side effect of L-Triptophan? First it makes you sleepy, and then you go completely insane, who knows? But what would possess a, supposedly rational, individual, to get up at 1am to wait outside Target on the off chance that they will be able to snag a big screen TV for half the price? As an amateur you are up against the tactics employed by the dedicated semi-pros. They take trips to the store before the fateful day, work in teams, and scout out the fastest routes to certain spots in the store. After waiting in the cold and dark outside the store for several hours, for many, that would be the restrooms. Let me explain…
Mathematics is not necessarily in your favor here. The stores advertise a few, truly special, deals, and lets human nature redress the balance. For example, there are four Megaelectric 90inch TVs on sale for half price. You want, you desire, no, you need, this behemoth on the wall of your overpriced apartment. Half price, well you’d be an idiot not to get one, right?
You set your alarm for one am, figuring that, ten minutes to put on the clothes from yesterday, a quick cup of coffee (and a couple of slices of the cold turkey), and a twenty minute drive to the mall, you’d be first in line.
After going back to get your wallet, (who can remember all their stuff at that time of day?), you arrive at 1:45, only to find you are late to the party. Tents have been pitched, and the line is already a hundred people strong.
Rational you would say, “The heck with it,” and head off home to your nice warm bed. But, rational left the building the second you saw the advertisement for the Megaelectric 90 inch, so you stay. You now profile the line. You see three guys who look like real trouble. You strongly suspect that they are there for “your” 90 incher. You dismissively write off the other people in the line as clothes shoppers, and somehow convince yourself that Megaelectric number four has your name written all over it.
You stake your claim in the line, unsportingly writing off every person who arrives after you as a loser, and begin the wait.
Nature can be cruel.
The coffee you drank to wake yourself up, has combined with the bone numbing cold, to activate your bladder to burst level. The pain sort of helps you forget the cold, but makes you angrier at all the people ahead of you. And, there is no way that you will leave the line, and let the two hundred, and growing, losers behind you, move ahead, snagging your TV in the process.
You try doing a discrete potty dance, shifting your weight from one foot to the other, while clenching everything clenchable. You seem to have it under control, when the truck that washes the sidewalks, drives by, washing the gutter, and driving your bladder muscles into apoplectic agony. It passes, and you almost pass out. Then the family directly behind you, who seem far too perky to be real, pass around a bottle of water. Being perky, and obnoxiously friendly, they offer you some. You decline wordlessly, but think about making them an offer for the bottle when they are done.
The thought fleetingly runs through your head that you are wearing dark pants and perhaps it won’t show, but you know instinctively that that would be wrong. So you grimace, and squirm, and wait.
Then, there is a buzz, the crowd becomes restless, and a door opens somewhere ahead of you. The store manager, looking forward to his potential bonus, hands out numbered tickets to the first twenty people in the line and retreats back inside to watch the waiting from the warm. The false start puts additional pressure on your bladder, and you resort to putting your hands in your pockets, ostensibly to keep them warm, but in reality to help the exhausted muscles squeeze and pinch.
Then, at the appointed hour, and not a second earlier, the staff opens the doors and sprint to safety behind specially reinforced Christmas decorations.
The crowd surges in, trampling the weak, and head off for their pre-scouted bargain.
You get through the door, deftly steeping over the fallen, a beach chair or two, and a couple of tents, and look in desperation for the restrooms. They are situated as far away from the doors as possible and you leap, shimmy, and shove your way to the restroom.
The relief is epic. You thank any and all deities responsible for this porcelain paradise, and then, free of pain, head out into the melee. You get to the electronics section just in time to see the fourth bargain set being wheeled away by the family that had been directly behind you.
Now, there are still plenty of Megaelectric 90’s for sale at their regular price. So, you buy one, and resolve to lie to everyone that you got it at the bargain price. The store sells close to fifty of the sets in this way, and more than covers the cost of the four bargains.
Which explains the full title: “Stores getting back into the Black, Friday.”
It’s all about perspective…
Dear Hub Reader
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Homo Domesticus; A Life Interrupted By Housework,
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