The craziness of Black Friday 2015.11.25


I have been pushed over, sneered at and grabbed at. I have witnessed adults shove each other out of the way, scream at one another and awaken newborn babies at 1 a.m. That, my friends, is a typical Black Friday for me.

Black Friday is my second favorite celebration, mostly for the outlandish stories that occur from other people’s desperation. Ever since I was in high school, it’s been a annual tradition for my mom and me to go. I was 17 for my first experience. We developed a plan and had my dad served as the “get-away” driver.

 The best memory from that trip was the look on other shoppers' faces when they realized my mom was saving me a spot in line while I shopped and we swapped out so she could shop.

At 4 a.m., while looking for a spot to eat, we came upon an IHOP in Lansing. It was packed, and the waiters looked weary. As our waitress set my mom’s coffee down, she looked at my sister and me and said, “That is Black Friday.” I’ve been addicted to the shop-a-thon ever since.

As the years went by, stores began to open earlier and earlier. One year we went to a Walmart that had started its minuscule sales at midnight Friday. We pulled into the parking lot and went into the store. Most of the items had been picked over from people who had camped out but they were releasing the DVDs for cheap. They had a tower full of DVDs, covered in plastic wrap. People were crowded around like tuna in a can. I became friendly with a fellow shopper across the tower. We bonded and both realized that each of us was next to a DVD that the other wanted. We made a deal, and when the Walmart worker pulled off the plastic and jumped about five feet away (I don’t even know what happened to that poor guy), she threw me the DVD I wanted and I gave her the one she was eying.

Quickly, I ran away to meet my mother. Looking back at the tower, my sister Elizabeth was lost in the struggle by ravenous deal hunters. I pulled her out with her hair a mess and asked to see the movies she snagged. She pulled the worse choices available and I explained to her the “friendly” policy. Elizabeth gave me an irate look and vowed never to do Black Friday again.

Fast forward to last year when Old Navy opened its doors early Thanksgiving evening. We were celebrating in Muskegon with my sister. We ate, cleaned up and later decided to do the unimaginable—Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving.

 I had to beg my sister to take us, being from out of town. She reluctantly agreed and drove my mom and me to the local shopping center at 10 p.m. The store was like a ghost town. Most of the items had been picked over and we were in and out within a hour.

As I chatted up the sales clerk, I asked him if he felt sad about working a holiday. He told me that the salespeople get to choose their shifts. My sister, who was gloomily standing by the door, was impatiently waiting for us to get out of there.

This year, my mom and I plan on checking out a new shopping center near Detroit. We have a plan mapped out and a getaway driver, and most importantly, we have each other to enjoy the craziness that is Black Friday.

Tips to avoid becoming “Grumpy Gills” on Black Friday:

• Have a getaway driver. Preferably one who doesn’t mind sitting in a car and readily answers texts quickly.

• Bring a partner in crime. Don’t go by yourself, but don’t bring five friends. It will get hectic.

• Make a plan of stores and big items to check out. Know the best spot to park and any “secret” ways to get in and out of the parking lot.

• Don’t automatically feel bad for the workers. Some get the choice to work and welcome the extra pay for working the holiday.

• Make friends as you wait for an item. Just like sitting at a football game or waiting in line for a roller coaster, be friendly to the people around you.

• Soak in the craziness and make sure to people watch. There are legitimate fanatics out there shopping.

• Be safe and charge your phone to full battery life before leaving the house.

• Wear comfy shoes; you’re not walking a fashion show.

• Most importantly, be kind to the workers and use your manners. No one likes a mean shopper.