It started out as nothing more than perfect timing.
My fiancé and I had just moved into our first apartment, armed with hand-me-down furniture and two 13 inch color televisions we had from our college years. It was mid November 2000, and we desperately needed an upgrade on our home entertainment system.
At Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I made jokes about having to put the little television on a TV tray and squint my eyes to watch shows and movies. That’s when my tech savvy brother said, “You should go to Best Buy tomorrow, huge sales. It’s Black Friday!” (He did say it exactly like that, and shockingly no, he is not a paid endorser of the electronics giant.)
For those of you who have been off planet for a decade or more (perhaps on a mission to prep Mars for colonization, since Earth clearly has an issue with overcrowding), “Black Friday” is the day after Thanksgiving when the Christmas season officially begins. It’s called “black” because it’s the day that retailers begin to turn a profit, or are “in the black.” I was aware of this day but had always stayed away. I wasn’t into waking up at the crack of dawn, waiting outside stores in the freezing cold for the retailers to open, only to engage in the inevitable slap fights with the other crazies who are there for the same deals.
I saw the ad, and I saw a television that was VERY handsomely priced. I talked myself into going, but only if my brother (who seemed to be so well versed in this “Black Friday” phenomenon) would help with my adventure. The Best Buy store selling the TV was a good 30 minute drive and they were opening at 7am, so naturally, we left the house at 6. When we finally made it to the electronics giant, there had to have been 1,000 people waiting with ads in one hand and coffee in the other. I looked at my brother and said, “What in the blue hell did you get me into?”
Looks like the line for the Blu-ray release of Green Lantern!
As we waited for the doors to open, we devised a plan. I would find the TV, and I figured while we were there, we might as well snap up one of those new fancy dancy DVD players. I sent my brother on this mission. We would split up and meet back in line. Such a simple plan, concocted by a Black Friday rookie.
The doors opened and the once organized line turned into a mob rushing the store. The air was filled with the small of audacity and disregard (which smells a lot like ck ONE). All bets were off! My brother and I separated into a sea of shoppers. I wondered if I would ever see him again. To my surprise, I was able to secure the television quickly. The store knew the demand would be high, so it had them stacked to the ceiling by the front doors. Looking back on it, I have no idea how that stack of boxes survived such a lawless helter-skelter environment and didn’t topple over like a game of Jenga between a coke addict and man on fire. By the time I made my way through the wave of sweaty shoppers to get in line, 20 minutes had passed. I felt a sense of relief. I did it!
Wait. Where is my brother?
From my place in line I did a 360 degree body swivel looking desperately for signs of him. Had the crowd swallowed him whole? Did he give up and just go back to the car? No, he was in the middle of the store doing the same thing: Looking for me. After he spotted me, we stood in line together, trading “war” stories about how easy this whole process was. He had to fight off a few people grabbing the DVD players, but other than that, things were good.
My idea of a good time
We spent nearly four hours waiting in line to pay. Four hours. Best Buy only opened up three registers. By the time we got home, it was nearly noon. We were coming off our high, and started to feel the effects of our early and LONG morning. I dropped my brother off and said, “Thanks for your help.”
He replied, “Next year?”
Without hesitation, I said, “Without a doubt.”
It has become a family tradition. We have completed eleven straight years of this maddening event, incorporating our siblings. Years that we don’t have anything specific we want to buy, we offer our services as merchandise mercenaries to hunt down and secure those hard to get items for friends and family who either can’t go or refuse to be a part of the fourth Friday of November.
This year will be no different. The doors will open, the crowd will push, shopping carts will clang, and I will say to myself in the midst of a full-on aisle sprint, “I am going to sleep in next year!”
Editor’s Note: Instead of braving elements, crowds, and weaponized shopping carts, why don’t you play it safe this year and use our web portal to Amazon.com for all of your holiday shopping? Just enter any keyword into the search box on the right sidebar, and wherever you go on Amazon from there will trace back to us! You can consider it your holiday gift to us, and you wont have to bitch slap any Walmart crazies who get up in your grill. Happy Holidays!
Corey Chapman has been selling his whole life, nowadays he actually gets paid to do it. His long term goal is to retire young and spend his days watching old episodes of Saturday Night Live and tweeting about “the good old days”. He produces and edits the UnderScoopFIRE.com Podcast.