There is a stereotype that shopping is not manly. For the most part, this appears to be right. It never feels incredibly manly to rave about the shoes you just scored or the new matching linen set you picked up for a pretty penny. In fact, it seems like the opposite of manly.
All of that changes on Black Friday.
The day after Thanksgiving is far from a normal shopping day. While most shopping can be considered gathering, seeing each person push a stupid cart around and grab the boring items they need to survive, Black Friday is hunting. You must scout out your prey, fight for it, hope you don’t get the crap beat out of you, and, hopefully, you will survive to tell about the terrific bargains on flat screen TV’s you were able to find.
As if the crowds and the energy weren’t enough, the stores rile everyone up by forcing them to stand in a long line out in the cold before they ever even get a glimpse of the low, low prices. These people have eaten a fair amount of turkey, so they are still a little bit groggy and tired. Opening the doors unleashes a hellacious terror that only cold, tired, turkey stuffed humans can provide. There is elbow throwing and a fair amount of blood and gore. It’s like a Quentin Tarantino movie about shopping.
Wanting to prove my mettle as a man, I loaded up my wife and sister in law in a car and headed out on the manliest shopping day of the year.
First Stop: Wal-Mart, 9:57 p.m.
There are a few things I hate in the world. I hate lukewarm coffee. I hate movies with Katherine Heigl in them. I hate listening to people talk about their new car. We get it. The engine has a number of cylinders and they do something that makes the engine go vroom.
Most of all, though, I hate Wal-Mart.
If I were to think up my least favorite place in the world, it would be Wal-Mart on the weekend. People are everywhere, putting their cart in my way when all I want is a gallon of milk or some new shoelaces. Then, you inevitably get behind the stinky guy in the checkout lane. He will not be able to find his credit card, so you’ll have to wait for him to fish around for enough change to take home a Hungry Man Salisbury Steak dinner and a single drill bit.
Wal-mart is one of the last places I want to go. I had no choice, though.
As a male, I am very cheap. This cheapness is reflected in one area: my underwear. I will wear my underwear until there are holes in them. Then, I will continue to wear that same pair of underwear until they finally disintegrate. I am able to justify this because I don’t want to pay those high, high Fruit of the Loom prices.
Wal-Mart, though, took away that excuse. While everyone else was waiting for a 56” Flat Screen TV with 3D capabilities and a built in jetpack that will take you to the moon, I was there for underroos that were priced at the low, low price of $3.50 a pack. There is no turning that deal down.
I slowly made my way through the crowd. My secret weapon was my wife. Measuring just over five foot, she is able to squeeze into gaps that otherwise normal people have no chance of getting through. Then, almost magically, she expands, opening a hole wide enough for me to simply walk through.
We forced our way through the movies, hoping to find any good DVD’s on sale. Since all of the cheap DVD’s seemed to be Spanish action films, we bypassed those. That’s when my wife’s diminutive size began to backfire.
As we began to make our way back to the men’s underwear, we found ourselves in the current going the opposite way. Its destination: Toyland.
The toy section is like the Wild West on Black Friday. It is a lawless land. People will eagerly stab you if they feel that you are likely taking the last Princess Malibu Dentist Barbie © with realistic Princess Malibu Dentist Drill ©. It is not for the faint of heart.
I may be brave, but I’m not that brave.
Stuck in the current of people, we struggled to the edge. Quickly, we ducked into the fabric and craft section, the only area of the store that remained empty. Apparently, Black Friday had neglected to knock prices off of adhesive Velcro strips.
We clawed our way across the crowd and that’s when we saw it: the underwear.
I grabbed the last package of my size and began our fight to the front of the store. Luckily, we found a person buying a single bottle of Similac to stand behind. (Was Similac on sale? That seems like a strange thing to wait in line for…)
After all of the work, the cashier took time out of his busy schedule of hating his job and hating everyone shopping there to scan my underwear. It came up to…
“Do we want to get…?” I started.
“Oh, you need new underwear,” my wife said, swiping her card.
Total Spent: $13
Total Saved: $0
Second Stop: Best Buy, 10:45 p.m.
Best Buy had been our list of destinations for a long time. For a person who loves movies as much as I do, Best Buy always provides. This year would bring $1 movies, $4 movies, etc. For those who have never bought a movie, that’s pretty darn cheap. For those who have never seen a movie, I’ll give you a second to look the term up.
Are you ready to move on now? Okay, good.
Showing up more than an hour before Best Buy’s opening, we were forced to join a line that wrapped around the side of the building and all the way to the back loading docks before doubling back around. As I stood there shivering, wishing I hadn’t listened to my wife’s insistence that I didn’t need a coat, numerous Best Buy employees walked next to the line offering vouchers for the numerous door busters.
“Laptop computer, $299,” they barked like a street vendor. People ignored them, busy freezing and eating the mediocre McDonald’s meal their friend had just gone to pick up. No one really paid attention, but fortunately we did.
“Free Thunderbolt,” cried one employee.
Now, my first thought was one of confusion. How are they managing to hand out Thunderbolts? Those are really hard to come by. And free? I looked around to see if Zeus was in line hoping to stock up.
Of course, they were referring to the cellular telephone called the Thunderbolt. Having listened to my wife complain about her Blackberry for the better part of a year, we quickly snatched it up.
After scoring three movies for $5 and three seasons of Friends for $9 apiece, we headed to the phone counter for the always simple process of getting a cell phone set up on an account.
If you were wondering how Best Buy was hoping to make money off of a free cell phone, it was like this:
“Would you like insurance? For $10 a month, our Geek Squad will replace your phone for free free free!!! Also, for a one-time fee of $30, we will give you a great discount on an upgrade in two years. We also have great deals on cases and screen protectors today.”
After four people had reached the end of this spiel, we got down to business. Five minutes later, we were walking out the door with a new phone. My wife called her sister to test it out.
“It popped up as Nathan’s number,” she said.
That’s right. Somewhere during this process, something had happened. Her phone got my phone number and my phone was numberless. At 12:30 a.m., this is a lot for a person to comprehend.
It wasn’t any easier for the employee to understand. We listened to the terrible 90’s pop blare behind him while he stared, perplexed, at his computer screen.
“I don’t know how it got this way,” he said.
“I don’t either,” I replied.
“Well, I’ll have to call Verizon.” And with that, he pulled his own phone to his ear.
As it turns out, Verizon is a hard company to speak to in the early morning hours of Black Friday. After a length of time, we were able to get her phone to work, but the ordeal would have to wait until morning to be sorted out.
It was a small price to pay, though. My wife’s new phone normally cost $150 with a new plan or $800 without. That makes this a great Black Friday steal for the incredibly low price of frustration.
Total Spent: $33
Total Saved: $849
Last Stop: Target, 1:45 a.m.
After the phone fiasco, I was ready to call it a night. There was one more stop to make, though. We drove right across the street and got to work at Target.
This visit was more of a blur. I vaguely remember looking at CD’s. I ignored DVD’s, having reached my quota at Best Buy. All I wanted was one thing: a cardigan.
Cardigans are my new favorite clothing item. Why? It’s simple: I look darn good in a cardigan. In fact, I contend that every man should own at least one cardigan. If it was good enough for Ward Cleaver, than, by golly, it’s good enough for me.
After walking by them twice whilst in a daze, my wife helped me locate the elusive sweaters. No fighting for them was necessary. In fact, the Target crowd was strangely peaceful. Apparently no one else was subscribing to my Ward Cleaver school of thought.
As we were leaving, we remembered one thing.
“Bread,” my wife said.
Ignoring Black Friday protocol, we passed by the electronics and sweaters and matching pajama sets to head to the groceries. It was completely empty, like a ghost town. I’m pretty sure a tumbleweed rolled down the aisle as we made our way to the bread.
Prepared for our leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches, we made our way to the checkout, hoping to get sleep before I reported to work at 7:45 the next morning.
Total Spent: $21
Totals Saved: $5
Overall Total Saved: $854
“Was it worth it?” I wondered as I drank my third cup of coffee this morning. I guess. It wasn’t too bad of a time. I have a few movies to show for and this cardigan I’m wearing is soft and warm. We were able to prove ourselves as effective hunters. I made it through alive, proving I was indeed a man.
More importantly, I never have to hear complaints about my wife’s Blackberry ever again. That right there is worth more than gold.
- Wal-mart provides more than enough evidence to change the rules of Black Friday (lehsys.com)
- Black Friday – The Aftermath (1meremortal.me)
- Black Friday violence: Competitive shopping’s troubling new edge (csmonitor.com)
- Black Friday pepper-spray shopper surrenders to police (abclocal.go.com)
- Pedestrian killed after Black Friday shopping (abclocal.go.com)
- Gamers Pepper Sprayed During Black Friday “Competitive Shopping” [Black Friday] (kotaku.com)
- 30 Reasons I Ignore Black Friday (pcworld.com)
- Herding Cats: Kindle Fire vs. iPad, Walmart Pepper Spray and Other Black Friday 2011 News (savings.com)
- Woman Pepper Sprays Other Shoppers at Los Angeles Wal-Mart on Black Friday (shoppingblog.com)