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Opinion: Black Friday shopping not as bad as anticipated

Black Friday shoppers at the Glendale Galleria crowd the escalators in Glendale, Calif., on Nov. 28. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Black Friday shoppers at the Glendale Galleria crowd the escalators in Glendale, Calif., on Nov. 28.
Credit: Courtesy of TNS

It was my first Black Friday. I was ready.

I was prepared for battle: coat on, purse in one hand, coffee in the other, and my best friend Victoria at my side for moral support.

But I was confused — there was no standing for hours at night. There wasn’t any night time at all. All the major Black Friday markets were opening not at 5 a.m., as I had expected, but rather at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. What was this madness?

I don’t even think the turkey from that afternoon’s Thanksgiving lunch had settled before I was all geared up and ready to go. I didn’t even have the chance to take my traditional after-meal nap.

But no matter, we were ready. 

We had goals: clothing, new boots, a PlayStation 4 bundle, gifts for the siblings … and just that morning, I added a new item to my own list: a laptop. Mine broke on the very day I planned on diving head first into the frenzy that is Black Friday. How convenient. The stakes just went up.

So Victoria and I went out and bought ourselves a newspaper. Not for the articles, not for the comics, but for the ads. And as we flipped through pages upon pages of deals, I’ll admit my heart did flutter a little bit. I was excited. The frenzy was already getting to me.

Our first stop was Best Buy. It was insane.

The doors were scheduled to open at 5 p.m., but arriving a good hour early was not enough. There was a line of people — mostly in their 20s or college-aged — winding its way along the wall of the building, around the corner and out of sight. There were so many people, all huddled together like a bunch of penguins. Some had the forethought to bring fold-up chairs and blankets. Instantly I regretted not planning more. We definitely should have brought chairs. And blankets. Especially blankets. It had started snowing.

Victoria and I looked at each other. We had parked on the very outskirts of the lot because of the sheer number of vehicles and hadn’t gotten out of the car yet. This was it. It was time.

We got out, made our way to the end of the line, and stood. And stood. For an hour. In the cold. In the snow.

And then finally, mercifully, the doors opened.

The frenzy began. People streamlined into the building, into the sweet warmth. When we finally made it in my fingers were stiff, but my eyes bright — the walls were stocked full, lined up and down to the brim with electronics. It was beautiful.

It was crowded, but we quickly made our way toward the back where both the gaming equipment and laptops were displayed. Victoria and I decided to divide and conquer. I was to go look at the laptops while she went to claim her PlayStation 4 bundle. Our plan was clear: go and get what we need, meet back up in 10 minutes, and try desperately not to get trampled.

Following the crowd, I made my way toward the laptops. It began to disperse a bit, and I could actually breathe. I grabbed the nearest employee, retrieved the crumpled up ad from my pocket, and pointed to the laptop I wanted, asking where to find it. He led me maybe five feet to my left, and pointed to the lower shelf. There it was. I grabbed one of the three boxes, clutching it to my chest as I walked away. Success.

Finding my way back to Victoria was easier than I thought it would be. She was just on her way to go find me, PlayStation in hand, when we practically bumped into one another. Apparently the stack of PlayStations numbered at least 100, and securing hers was as quick as snatching one from the pile. Well, that was simple.

We went up to the front, waited in a shorter line than I had expected, purchased our goods and left.

There were no fights. No one died. Nothing. Aside from the crowd, we got in and got out with a breeze.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed. I was hoping for more drama. I guess that’s all reserved for Toys R Us, and there was no way we were going there.

Our next stop was Target. We arrived a little after it opened.

Inside, there were still a lot of people, but it was a little less crowded than Best Buy had been. Here, we had less of a plan than before. Mainly we were there to browse the discounted clothes and maybe browse the shoe section.

After a while, with a few items in hand each, we made our way to the checkout line. The line. Which extended down the building and wound its way around the aisles. Ugh. It was so long and confusing they had employees standing and directing at each aisle crossway, and one stationed at the very end with a balloon that said “line starts here.”

Suddenly my two measly items didn’t seem quite worth the wait. The employee at the end assured us that it would “only” be 20 minutes, though it definitely looked much longer than that. But at Victoria’s urging, I finally gave in. We waited. And waited. And waited. And then — drama.

A woman and her daughter, sneaky as they were, decided to jump in front of us in line. I looked at Victoria in confusion. Surely this woman was mistaken. This was the middle of the line.

And then, it happened. I was annoyed. Mad. She just cut. I hadn’t been that angry over something so silly since elementary school. But did I say anything? No. Of course not. My pacifist tendencies kicked in and I backed down. Instead, I spent the next 15 minutes glaring at the back of her head and tailgating her with my cart. I was surprised she didn’t burst into flames from the looks that Victoria and I were giving her.

At the end of it all, the experience wasn’t nearly as traumatic as all the stories I’ve heard. It was relatively easy, and we were done by 8 p.m. The only sad part of the night was how much lighter my purse seemed afterward. So will I go again? Yeah, probably.

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