Black Friday: the gate is open

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 23, 2007

There is a part of me that is thankful I have to work today, Friday.

I can think of a dozen other places I’d rather be than in aisle six in Wal-Mart or Target clamoring to get a coveted item the 50 other people around me want.

Yes, by the time you read this, Black Friday will have passed…or opened, as I see it as the proverbial gate to retail hell.

The holiday season is the equivalent to a marathon for shoppers and it has always been Black Friday that has been the shot into the air that begins that run. A run on tiled mall floor that is laid with good intentions, but usually ends with people making fools out of themselves.

Like many of those who were blessed with double X chromosomes, I am a shopaholic. I can not help myself. I’m genetically predisposed to shop and because of that I was ruined from the beginning.

When I was a teen I was a terrible shopaholic. I practically lived in the mall. I frequented clothing, shoe and music shops so much the employees knew me by my first name.

But those careless days are yesteryear as paying your own bills tends to do that to a person.

Now, I like to think of myself as a mature shopaholic, someone who has a grip on her addiction, but still enjoys a few swipes of the credit card here and there.

So, you’re probably wondering why a person who loves to shop has such abhorrence for Black Friday.

Just like any avid consumer, I belong to a type. I’m a slow, territorial shopper that loathes lines. If you don’t quite understand what “slow, territorial shopper that loathes lines” means…you are probably a heterosexual male and you’re forgiven.

Let me translate each word into more non-purchaser terms:

Slow- Every detail counts, people! And of course there is always confliction on whether or not purchase.

Territorial- Don’t even think about reaching in my shopping space to snatch an item, you may go home without an arm.

Loathes long lines- Yeah, to say the least, Wal-Mart on any given day drives me insane.

Not that I haven’t ventured out on the occasional Black Friday. Believe me, I’ve tried to forget those experiences.

One time a few years ago comes to mind; waiting outside in below freezing temperatures at 3 a.m. with my cousin in upstate New York with black ice under our feet and snow banks around us.

We were there, just like the 200 other people in line, for a “door buster.” And when the store opened the doors did bust…with people, pushing, running, screaming and falling.

I couldn’t help but stare in awe at the carnage before me. There was a laughing woman on the floor, another was getting her face mashed against the window and people were fighting over carts. It was comparative to the 1889 Land Run or at least the bowels of an insane asylum. Every person there was worthy of an exorcism.

I felt embarrassed to even be a part of it, heck, I’m blushing just writing about it.

So, as I sit here from the comfort of my desk chair, I think of those fighting the retail war on the day we liken Black Friday.

I sit here with my toes all toasty warm, my muscles are not cramped from all the pushing and shoving and think of how lucky I am to have finished my holiday shopping last weekend.

Then I remember I have to go grocery shopping tonight.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.