“Shopping’s great, the deals are good, and people are crazy”

I’m sitting at work, waiting for my editor to read two of my articles so I can leave, and I need something to do other than clean my desk. So I want to make some observations about Black Friday.

The song “People are Crazy” would make a good theme song for Black Friday. People would have to be crazy to do some of the things shoppers do on Thanksgiving and today.

(I admit a person also would have to be crazy to stay up essentially all night to interview these people to write an article about it, but then again, one needs some degree of insanity to be a journalist in the first place.)

As I was gathering stories overnight, I heard that some people were lining up at Best Buy as early as Thursday morning for the sales that would start at 5 a.m. Friday. By midnight there were probably 100 people in line. And it was so cold.

In a way, it makes sense. If you show up at Best Buy early enough you can get an $800 laptop for $400. I don’t know about you, but I earn less than $400 in a day, so spending one night in the cold to save $400 on a laptop isn’t a bad deal financially. Also, at Sears there were people waiting at 1 a.m. to save $500 to $900 on washing machines and dryers. Another good deal.

Amongst the serious shoppers were a number of people who had no idea what was on sale Friday. They were just standing in line in the cold wind to look around, or to get attention for having done such a thing.

In Walmart, there was near-mayhem. The store was set up with many crowd control wires marking places where you could not enter or exit certain aisles. The place was crawling with security guards, moreso than last year. People were standing around for hours in the checkout lines waiting to be able to buy the items they had picked out but which could not be rung up until 5 a.m.

Black Friday has a few hero stories: Parents who wait in a long line in the freezing cold for hours just to get something that will cheer up their children, maybe the one thing their child wants.

But for me, it has become just another part of the commercialization of Christmas.

A lot of the people there are waiting in line only for themselves. They aren’t saying, “I’d do anything to get this for my kids.” They’re saying, “Dude, a 52-inch TV on sale! I’m going to go get that for me!” So it’s a selfish holiday.

And even when they are getting something for someone else, I just think it’s sad when you measure your love for someone by the stuff you’re willing to get them. Part of this is just the fact that I’m me, and as time goes by I like “stuff” less and less. I like books, and I like useful things like kitchenware. But stuff is just stuff.

You can buy it somewhere else at some other time.

I’d much rather make cookies for someone than wait in line to buy a TV for them. Partly because I can eat cookies, but not TV.

Instead of singing about Black Friday, I’d much rather sing, “God is great, (root) beer’s good, and people are crazy.”