Black Friday shopping not for me

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 20, 2009

The trampling death of a Wal-Mart employee in Valley Stream, N.Y., and the shooting deaths of two men inside a Toys R Us in Palm Desert, Calif., last year on Black Friday left me wondering: Do these fools really know what the spirit of the season means?

It surely doesn’t mean get that present at all costs, no matter what, and don’t let anyone stand in your way.

Rushing the doors to get inside a store at 5 a.m. Fighting over the one item left that is a few dollars cheaper at the sale price offered. Grabbing at a stack of towels like a bunch of vultures grabbing meat off the bones of a dead animal.

That last one I saw myself at Wal-Mart in Covington last year. It wasn’t pretty.

OK. I decided to get up and shop at 5 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving 2008. First time I’d ever gone to a Black Friday sale. And I’d like to believe it was the last time, too.

Few things are worth that kind of misery.

When I walked in the store a few minutes before 5 a.m. I noticed people standing around certain items. When the clock struck 5, I was amazed to see the hands grabbing and bath towels flying off the shelves. I moved quickly to another part of the store where the one item I wanted should have been located. It wasn’t, but that is where the television sets were stacked.

People were grabbing boxes faster than I could register what was going on. And as I tried moving toward the back of the store I got caught in the worst traffic jam I had encountered in my nine years of living in St. Tammany Parish.

There were shopping carts everywhere, many overflowing with 40-plus inch TVs. People were pushing and shoving and all the while talking on their cell phones to friends and family in other parts of the store or other stores completely.

I finally gave up the cart just to try and get close to the electronics section to look at a video camera. Not a chance I was getting there. I quickly decided the few dollars I would save wasn’t worth the headache.

I found a nice lady working near where the item I wanted should have been located (near the grocery department). She directed me to its temporary location — near the garden center. Never would have thought to look there, but I found it and was able to save my dad about $100 on a gift he was buying for my mother.

By then it was definitely time to go. So I got in line and, 45 minutes later, I checked out my couple of items and got the heck out of there.

I left wondering if all those people grabbing all that stuff were buying gifts, buying needed household items or buying stuff just because it was on sale.

I’d like to believe the first two, but in many cases, I’m sure the last answer is the truth.

Many people enjoy Black Friday shopping and do it every year. But I’ll stick to working that day and/ or watching college football on the tube.

Last year that game was Arkansas vs. LSU, and it was a miserable experience for this Tiger fan. But all in all, my morning experience with Black Friday shopping was worse.

Go figure.

Sandy Cunningham is publisher of L’Observateur. She can be reached at sandy.cunningham@