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Lemon County: Shop 'Till You Drop...

Updated on December 15, 2011

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.

Absolute beauty.

Absolute calm.

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

If you enjoy this hub, please check out my book,

Homo Domesticus; A Life Interrupted By Housework,

A collection of my best writings woven into a narrative on a very strange year in my life.

Available directly from:



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    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      I know a guy who'll take those TV's off your hands for a tenner, or a couple of slightly used ferrets...

      Thanks for the comments


      You not only have some great hubs in there, that's a book begging to be writen. Actually a movie in the making. Reese Witherspoon as you, and the dramatic contrast betwen the early 'up' years, and the post traumatic marriage years...

      So, inbetween running a ranch the size of most of England, writing, painting and doing ceramics, take a couple of days and bash out a screenplay :)


    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      So you've had your turn at the ice cream chairs. No wonder you're a man of wisdom and fortitude! Yes - the cell phone is a blessing for fathers and husbands in any shopping arena. Back when I was involved, though, the poor guys had to just zone out for the duration, which could expand exponentially. I suppose it helped a bit that at that shop, the registration podium was taken care of by a pretty young girl in a bridesmaid's gown and there were intermittent parades of young models descending the winding stairs of the lovely Victorian home which housed the shop, and they circulated among the ice cream chairs. I think most of the fathers' eyes deglazed when that occurred.

      Yes - I could definitely do a hub on those experiences. That particular shop - in Louisville - was my re-entry into the work force following the sad end of a sadder bad 18 year marriage, as well. So my tolerance for some of the triviality of it all was somewhat strained. It did help me identify prenuptial marital problem areas though. It also was a zero social opportunity for me as I was re-entering my own life! LOL The only men around were dads of brides. A virtual desert with nothing but mirages. LOL

      My experience as a BridalConsultant at Sakowitz in Houston so many years earlier, just out of college and before my own marriage, was an entirely different kind of thing. The contrast itself would be fodder for the story!

    • attemptedhumour profile image

      attemptedhumour 7 years ago from Australia

      Hi chris had a great laugh with this one, the 80% as my mate calls them, will queue up at a guillotine If it's two for the price of one. You did a great job of describing the folly of not adhering to the scout's motto of, 'come prepared' with a concealed potty and wallet at hand. We had eight telly's at one time, I know, we used to be 80%ers ourselves, but these days we hardly ever watch TV as it's crapola. You picked the right 'sail' that's for sure.

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      I call those chairs "The chair of death". You have no idea how long you will sit there, so you stare off into space and zone out. Your reverie is disturbed by the occasional question that is impossible to answer. "The red or the blue?" "Does this one make me look fat?" etc

      Thank goodness for cell phones with toys - now at least I can read interesting hubs...

      The wedding dress stories would make for some interesting hubs...


    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      Sounds terrible! You have to wonder if that kind of frenzy is worth it? I would certainly not want to be working in that kind of atmosphere.

      Thanks for adding a different perspective...


    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      My interest in your boat's size was to make sure it was enough to accommodate another passenger eager to escape the shopping insanity on shore! LOL, I did see your photo enjoying the freedom out there on the sailboat when I returned to read more of the comments here. It looks "just right" on you! May not have room for anyone else unless the person is good at handling the lines. My only experience of any amount was in the mid-1970s on a tiny little sunfish out on WhiteRock Lake not far from where I live now. My main duty was barmaid, but I caught on to some of the duties. I'm a landlubber desert rat, actually. I've seen both the Pacific and the Atlantic and spent one night on Padre Island on the Gulf. Of all large bodies of water I have seen, I like the Pacific best, though they are all scary. The ones facing East are so tumultuous though! At least the Pacific knows how to behave in the presence of a lady!

      Brimancandy's account of how barbaric those sales are (as opposed to sails!) - reassures me it is doubly good to avoid them. If one has no ocean and boat, at least, to stay totally far away from malls and strip mallls on those kinds of days.

      I've worked in retail but it was not involved in these cattle-drives. I was a Bridal Consultant at fine stores. LOL. But even that convinced me that retail is not really a good job. A Bridal Consultant (clothing only) must be a little like the parlor maids and butlers in aristocratic homes - pieces of furniture whose eyes and ears are supposed to be mute to highly personal conversations between members of the family! LOL. At least it was only the female members. The dads were relegated to outer accommodations. In one shop, they had to sit on little ice cream parlor antique chairs in the anteroom. For hours. Poor things. I suppose they were just along to pay the bills! Meanwhile I was able to analyze the likelihood of their daughters' marriages lasting beyond the honeymoons. LOL

    • brimancandy profile image

      Brian 7 years ago from Northern Michigan

      I worked as a cashier at a 24 hour store in Michigan. And, I worked every black Friday for 15 years. Unlike the other stores with the tents, our sale would start at 6 a.m. But, since we were open 24 hours, people always showed up Thanks Giving evening, and would start grabbing the merchandise as soon as the carts of stuff were brought out onto the floor.

      We had ten speed bikes on sale, but they had them up suspended above the sales floor, and did not plan on taking them down until the sale began, but, people couldn't wait, and started climbing the shelves to get them down. One man fell and hurt himself, so the bikes came down early, and it was insane! People were actually having a tug-o-war with the bikes. This all before 4 am. And, all the checkout lanes, (36 of them) were backed up 7 and 8 people deep before 5.

      We sold 199 Wii systems, and 127 flat screen TVs, and all the bikes were gone within the first our of the sale.

      Those people then pack their cars, and go to the other stores. Some doing 9 and ten stores in a single day.

      I heard there were over 35,000 people at the local Mall that friday. I'm sure a good portion of them were at our store first. I worked through the 2009 sale, and was fired shortly after the Christmas rush.

      Retail is not a good job to have.

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California

      Tammy L,

      Crazy right. Do you see any stress in the photo of me above the comments? Of course not, I'm a guy, the internet is my friend...

      Thanks for reading, laughing, commenting and for the follow, all very much appreciated:)


    • Tammy L profile image

      Tammy L 7 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

      There is no way on this Earth I would EVER participate in a Black Friday stampede. I am not going to get beat up and trampled racing to get the last gadget for 75% off (which had a price increase by 150% the day before Thanksgiving). I even saw a website with tips for the Black Friday shopper. "leave your jacket in the car. You can run faster without it and be the first one to the jewelry counter."

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      I am aware that size matters (to some people). My Megayacht is fully 22 feet long. It sounds better in inches, coming in at 264 of those...

      I am not a svelte man, as I believe I may have mentioned in other hubs, so I don't so much sail my boat, as wear it.

      Still fun, (I posted a picture of me loving every second above the comments)


    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      One question: How big is your sailboat? That would be my preference for Black Friday. I stay home with great enthusiasm. I didn't even look to see what bargains were offered today for Cyber Monday!! I like a bargain as much as anyone, but I'm not fond of all that panic and fervor, which obviously is to pad the stores' coffers. I have a better recipe for saving money: keep it! LOL.

      Great funny hub. It was so vivid, I had to excuse myself from my computer twice! LOL.

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      Revisionist Shakespeare, love it!

      You know rhyming something with megagelectric ninety is close to impossible, not to mention trying to slot that into iambic pentameter...

      Thanks for classing up my humble hub, now go thee henceforth from this dark place, this forum of comedies, to the gentler shores of poetry, wherin my heart lieth not



    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Perspective... to pee, or not to pee, To pee or not to pee: that is the question:

      Whether ’tis warmer in the lineup to suffer

      The stink and yellow of our own urine,

      Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

      And by opposing end them? To shiver: to freeze;

      No more; and by with a quick relief we end

      The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

      That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation…

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      Glad I could brighten your day!

      Thanks for reading and commenting,


    • KristenGrace profile image

      KristenGrace 7 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Haha, must admit I'm one of those "ants" running about for Black Friday. Still, loved the read!

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      Glad I could tickle your funny bone. Thanks for reading, commenting and the follow,


    • LaurieDawn profile image

      LaurieDawn 7 years ago

      Absolutely hilarious and SO true! My sister and I engage in this tradition every year, and every year I ask myself why. How descriptive you are, and accurate! Thanks for sharing a true journey in the lives of Black Friday Shoppers!