Black Friday: A special day for the commercially insane
In this Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, file photo, cousins Stacy Levine, left, and Melissa Bragg shop at a Toys R Us store in Atlanta on Black Friday.
These days, everybody and their dog gets their very own unique day of celebration.
There’s a day set aside for administrative professionals, for bird watchers, for salespeople, for plumbers, for professional engineers, for spouses, for grocery store produce managers — even a day for people who simply enjoy talking like a pirate.
And yes, there are several dozen holidays just for their dogs. National Dog Day, National Puppy Day, Bulldogs Are Beautiful Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, K-9 Veterans Day, Walking the Dog Day — the list goes on and on.
So with a special day for just about every special group on the planet, it only seems fair that crazy people would have their very own separate holiday, too.
It’s called Black Friday.
We’re now double-digit hours away from what is quite possibly the most peculiar human ritual on the planet. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, millions of Americans — sluggish from a day of overeating and watching football to excess — clog the retail stores of this great country of ours to engage in a veritable orgy of Christmas purchases.
It’s like opening day of deer hunt for holiday shoppers.
Disclaimer: I have never, ever been out shopping on Black Friday, so admittedly I have no first-hand knowledge of the horrors. But I’ve heard enough stories from veterans of countless Black Friday campaigns to realize one thing — I don’t need to place my hand on a hot stove to know it’s not a particularly smart thing to do.
Of course, as with everything else it touches, the Internet has essentially ruined Black Friday. With more and more consumers doing more and more of their consuming online, there’s less of a need for doorbuster deals at your traditional brick-and-mortar shops.
In other words, with the advent of Cyber Monday, anyone who ventures out on Black Friday these days does it for one reason and one reason alone: They like it. And the fact is, if you actually enjoy getting up at the butt crack of dawn on a day off to stand outside a big-box store in the cold and dark for the chance to shove and elbow your neighbors out of the way in order to save a few bucks on a child’s toy or personal electronics purchase? Sorry, but that makes you — to borrow my mother’s favorite holiday expression — nuttier than a fruitcake.
I’m not calling you people criminally insane, but you’re most certainly commercially insane.
And there’s an even darker side to Black Friday. Crowds of motivated shoppers can quickly turn ugly. Every year, the news feeds are sprinkled with tales of a store clerk who was trampled to death. Or a pregnant woman who was pepper-sprayed. Or a bench-clearing brawl between shoppers who, less than 24 hours earlier, were giving thanks for the bounteous blessings in their lives and are now picking up gifts for a holiday that’s supposed to be all about peace on earth, goodwill toward everyone … unless you’re holding the last Blu-ray player at a 6 a.m. early-bird super sale.
You know that old saying about not getting between a mother bear and her cub? Well, that goes double for standing between her and that Hatchimal her cub asked Santa for.
So infamous has the day become that there’s even a website called BlackFridayDeathCount.com. The counter currently sits at seven deaths and 98 injuries, although it would appear it hasn’t been updated since 2014.
In conclusion, if you must venture out into that abyss of crass Christmas commercialism Friday, I ask you to be careful and be courteous.