Talk turned to Thanksgiving Day Sales and Black Friday today and I remembered what I did six years ago tonight. This is from a post from five years ago.
Ok, I did something in the last 24 hours I swore I would NEVER do! I participated in Black Friday. I don't mean that I went to the mall this morning after watching Good Morning America and did some shopping,,,,I mean I participated with a capital P!
Let me set some background here. My good friend and neighbor, Kelly, and I were talking the other day (Wednesday) about the laptop computers she and her husband wanted to give their two boys for Christmas. She told me about the special Walmart was having. I too saw the ad but looked at what this laptop had to offer and to tell ya the truth, wasn't really impressed. One GB of hard drive and not a bunch of RAM and practically no software installed. Ok, to each their own. Since there was only one allowed per customer her sister Lisa was going with her so that each could get one. Have two boys...need two laptops. I talked with Kelly Thanksgiving morning and the conversation turned to the quest for the laptops. She told me that Walmart was out and Circuit City was the destination for laptop buying. I looked at the ad for that one and while there wasn't a great deal of software included it did have 60 GB hard drive and tons of memory. Now we're talking! I told her I'd like to tagalong with her since Bob and I have been talking about a getting a laptop for our RV travels and with $750.00 worth of instant rebates that brought the price down to $199.99, well, you just can't go wrong. Still on the bare-bones side for software but we really only use our computer for surfing the web, email, and Bob's online poker games and my addiction to online Scrabble. Did I mention that the ad also stated in very small print that there is a minimum of 15 laptops per store? We knew we would have to get there earlier than the 5 a.m. opening of the store in order to get one.
Kelly will work the evening shift at the hospital and call me on her break so that we can set a game plan. Kelly calls and it is decided that she will swing by Circuit City when she ends her shift around 11:30 pm and if there are people in line she will call her sister, Lisa, and me, and we would meet her up there. If in fact there was a ton of people at the store then Kelly would just come home and Lisa and I would sleep thru the nite. Now I didn't really think anybody would be there at midnight and was figuring I'd have to get up at three or so in order to be there in time for the opening. After my talk with Kelly, I talked to Lisa and we tweaked the game plan a little further. It was decided that we would in fact go to Circuit City when Kelly got off work and that we would take lawn chairs with us and set them up outside the door and we would sit in the heated car and just wait. When someone else came to wait in line we would jump out of the cars, run to the chairs and wrap ourselves in the blankets we would bring with us to keep us warm. Also, we would bring umbrellas to ward off the winds. Did I mention it was in the low 20's with 20-30 miles an hour winds with gusts at 61 MPH??? Yes, delightful weather! Ok, game plan is set, we're ready to roll!
I started "preparing" for the chilly evening. I had sweats on to begin with so just pulled another pair on top and added a turtleneck to the sweatshirt I was wearing. Heavy socks, sneakers, good to go. GLOVES! I don't ever wear gloves and don't own a pair! Next best thing? A pair of Bob's wool socks, yeah, that will work! Got my umbrella out, pulled out a wool Army blanket we have and got settled in for the evening waiting for "Operation Laptop" to begin. Kelly calls at 11:45....panic in her voice....people are here, get here as soon as you can! She calls Lisa and as planned, Lisa who also lives in our neighborhood, two streets away, will swing by and pick me up. Reached the store at the 12:15 and there are six people in front of us. THEY had been sitting in the warmed cars waiting for others to arrive, just like we planned to do. They had gotten there between 11:15 and 11:30.
So we're in line, its freezing cold and we're wondering if ANYTHING is worth standing in 22 degree air for 5 hours! Personally, I had my doubts and was regretting riding with Lisa instead of driving myself. You see, Kelly and Lisa are DIEHARD Black Friday shoppers but even this was a bit much for them. At least the building was blocking the wind and we didn't have to contend with that. Then a miracle happened. Lisa's friend and co-worker, Pete, knew what her plan was for the nighttime hours and being the great guy that he is showed up with hot chocolate and are you ready for this????? A FIRE PIT! With logs! AND...a portable propane heater! Needless to say we are EVERYBODY'S best friend now! In just a few short minutes a fire was roaring in the fire pit and portable propane heater was spewing out tons of HEAT! We are happy campers! A few more shoppers arrive and we're having a grand time! We're laughing, we're joking, we're WARM!
By two the line is now snaking around the building, to the windy side. A lot of cars are driving into the lot and right back out, the occupants aware that they waited too long in getting there, there would be no laptop for them. We, the first 15 in line, are very territorial now, we look suspiciously at anyone that walks up to the doors to peer inside and kind of hangs around for longer than 30 seconds. They are quickly told where the end of the line is. So they go, heads hung low, passing the masses wrapped in blankets and snuggled in sleeping bags to the dreaded "end of the line". "Sucks to be them" we tell each other as we inch ever closer to the warmth of the fire pit!
The First Fifteen, as we call ourselves now, have bonded. We allow runs to the local all night convenience store for more hot chocolate and coffee with the driver being welcomed back with open arms, to cheers and a guaranteed place in line. We, the First Fifteen, are a unit, we are strong, we are warm and one of us has to pee! ME! Damn that hot chocolate! I convince myself not think about it, it will "go away". I can hold it for two hours! I immerse myself in conversation, taking my mind off this ever present need to squat! I politely refuse the offer of more hot chocolate at the next store run. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.
Its now 3 a.m and there are several hundred people in line. Didn't they see the small print???? Don't they know there are only 15 laptops available for sure and if there are more it won't be many? Well Circuit City was having a great sale on batteries so maybe they are here for them!
Four in the morning! Employees are arriving, no, they don't know how many laptops there are, no, they don't know where they are located in the store, no, they don't know if vouchers will be handed out to insure that the first in line get the long awaited for laptops. These employees are not happy people! They look tired. Makes me wonder how we look, after all, we've had NO sleep!
Four-thirty. A brave employee stands before us and tells us that vouchers will be given out for several "special items" and that the number of vouchers matches the number of items in stock. He is swarmed! Not by the First Fifteen,,,,but by the individuals who are just now arriving in the parking lot and are hearing him as they stroll by. The First Fifteen will not stand for this! No way, no how, not in this lifetime! We've paid, and paid dearly, for those vouchers! One of "our guys" pulls him into the huddle we've formed and calmly informs the poor guy that we have been there all night and that we know who the first fifteen are and that we will protect him. Vouchers past the first fifteen...well, he's on his own. He then tells us there are only 18 laptops in the store, we assure him that we do indeed know who the first 18 are. Ours ranks have swelled by three. He hands them out, we look at them in awe, we cradle these magnificent pieces of paper gently in our hands, WE HAVE ARRIVED! We are the CHOSEN! We are the shoppers looked up to by the others wwwwaaaaayyyyyy in back of the line. We are the "smart" shoppers, we brought heat! We are SHOPPING gods! (...and one of us still has to pee!)
We're counting down the minutes now. The crowd is pushing closer as 5am gets nearer. Our vouchers are being looked at with lust. THEY want our vouchers! Word goes through the First Fifteen,,,,oops, First Eighteen to put the vouchers away, deep in a pocket, away from glare of seedy looking characters that seem to surround us now.
Ten minutes to five....the fire pit is rolled away from the doors, off to the side of the building where no one is. It is there that the embers will die and cool. Damn, 10 minutes with no heat, this is going to be a LONG 10 minutes! Three minutes to go, the crowd is really pushing now and I'm starting to get scared. Finally, the doors are opened the crowd surges forward. You don't even have to walk, you are just moved along. People are tripping and the ones behind are still pushing. I managed to get off to the side a little bit and had room to run. I joined the masses heading for the computer department. We had vouchers but running was not a choice,,,,it was a necessity to keep from being knocked down. Obviously, those not near the front of the line didn't know that vouchers were given out and this was truly turning into a free for all.
I'm running for all I'm worth, I'm running for my LIFE and then I see it! THE SIGN! IN RED NO LESS! *****R E S T R O O M S***** It suddenly came rushing back to me, I had to pee! In the panic I had forgotten, but it was in the fore thoughts of my mind now. Decision time, do I keep running to the computer department or do I make a mad dash for the ladies room? Then I remembered,,,,I HAVE A VOUCHER! Off to the ladies room I go, praying to make it in time. I did. Well, it took Kelly, Lisa and me nearly three hours to get through the lines. Only because those who could run faster than us (and who didn't make a pit stop) had to argue with the store personnel about only having 18 laptops, how they waited all night, yada, yada, yada. Was it worth it? Yeah, I think it was. I met some nice people in line, had lots of laughs, didn't really "suffer" in the cold and I got the laptop. Would I do it again? HELL NO! Oh yeah, Lisa's friend, Pete,,,,the one with the fire pit,,,,turns out he's a computer GEEK and will load all kinds of software onto to the new laptop for me. We just have to let him know what we want.
Yep, this Thanksgiving sure is different from last.
In case you are wondering, we still have that laptop and use it as backup when one of ours is in the shop.