~ A bit of joie de vivre, a comprehensive joy of life, with an occasional edge.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Real Nightmare Before Christmas

It's Black Friday.

You're off of work today, so you get up a little late. Still in your pajamas, you take a few minutes preparing your coffee, as you want to enjoy it today. You grab a quick bite to eat, take a cup of your fresh coffee and head to the couch, where you turn the television on... and that's when you see that it's Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and one of the busiest retail shopping days of the year. This was also the day that you swore you would avoid, fighting the crowds, frequenting the busy stores and malls.

You hear the announcer explain how the term "Black Friday" originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day. Two people are now talking about the economy, and how the term has been used more recently by the media in reference to the beginning of that period in which retailers are "in the black" (i.e., turning a profit). And then they break to all of the sale ads.

You just can't resist. You put down that home-brew coffee, get into some clothes and hustle down to Target (or Wal-Mart or Kmart if you like), where you can join all the rest of the Black Friday bargain shoppers and see all of the things that everyone has already picked through and left in shambles. You can stop by the fast food section and get another cup of coffee to make up for the one you left, noticing that it looks rather like weak tea and has a distinctive odor that's definitely not that of fresh brewed coffee.

So you join all of the other Black Friday bargain shoppers, with your expectations of finding anything worthwhile diminishing by the minute. Within the first thirty minutes in the store, you've been bumped by four shopping carts, nearly slipped in the aisle once as you were trying to avoid some strange green liquid as it spread across the aisle, shoved by two kids who were running and shooting Nerf guns at each other, and narrowly escaped the flying projectiles from a barfing baby.

Black Friday... it's the real Nightmare Before Christmas... 

But bravely you weather it all, and continue your quest. And then you find that one single item that somehow doesn't have a torn box or look like it was trampled by earlier shoppers. Smiling, you take it and head to the register, though you're aware that there's sure to be a line.

There are lines at each register, and as fortune would have it, you get caught behind one of those shoppers with a full cart who also has two screaming and drooling infants with her, and then you hear her profane remarks about how badly everything sucks as she unloads her cart and smacks her kids. And as you wait for the cashier (a trainee, as luck would have it) ring up the items very slowly, you would feel a sense of light at the end of the tunnel as the shopper's last couple items go into the bags as she curses at her kids.

Then, just when relief is in sight, the shopper presents the cashier with her credit card, and there is a pause of a minute or so... and all of her purchases are declined. In a burst of profanity, the shopper whips out another credit card and the cashier helps her with it, because the line behind all of you is really growing now. The noises behind you sound like the buzzing of a distant hornet's nest that has been poked and is beginning to swarm. But what happens next is almost predictable at this point: that credit card is declined as well.

Of course now the shopper begins to loudly berate the credit card company, the economy in general, the store, foreign workers who have "stolen good American jobs," and the "incompetence" of the cashier, with rude expletives bursting forth in rapid succession, and variations of the term "suck" seems to make up about every fifth work. Alternatives of another "-uck" term are used at an increasing rate, and "duck" is not the expletive.

About then the trainee cashier bursts into tears, and the people behind you begin to yell at both the rude shopper with her screaming kids and the poor cashier, who is now really sobbing... and you're caught there, squeezed as if in a vice, right there in the middle of all this pandemonium.


You wake up and blink, startled to see that you're still there in your pajamas, and that you had just dozed off for a moment. So you take a sip of your home-brew coffee, smiling gratefully that it was all a nightmare, albeit a real one that many are going through at that precise moment.

You get up and turn on your computer, smiling as you go to that familiar Amazon.com bookmark. Yes, Black Friday shopping here is a lot more fun!

And yes, I'm right here, enjoying it all.


Heartsapocolypse said...

A true nightmare indeed...

larry said...

John, that's superb!