I remember when our President told us to go shopping to help the country through the trauma of the September 11 attacks. I understand the power of retail therapy, and I sometimes find myself standing in Best Buy with a glazed look on my face as I try to make sense of my life by purchasing consumer electronics.
Still, I have a hard time imagining why anyone would drag themselves out of a warm bed before five o'clock in the morning to participate in what has become affectionately known as "Black Friday." For many, this is the opening round in a month-long frenzy of high-stakes capitalism that ends with Christmas, or the cancellation of your Visa card, whichever comes first. Black Friday is typically the busiest shopping day of the year in terms of customer traffic, it is not typically the day with the highest sales volume. That is usually either Christmas Eve, the last Saturday before Christmas, or December 26th. Even so, the local news teams were out in force with on the spot coverage of people spending money on Black Friday.
That name. Where have I heard it before? As it happens, there are dozens of "Black Fridays" throughout history, beginning in 1869 and continuing right up until 2004. Many of them have to do with financial crisis, but many of them refer to civil and domestic unrest. Maybe that's where the connection is made. Armies of slack-jawed bargain hunters take to the street with their bodies still suffering the effects of tryptophan overdose, looking to finish their Christmas shopping in the six hours allotted them to sleep off those same symptoms.
I stayed close to home today. I heard the traffic helicopters churning overhead, getting a good look at the parking lot at Wal-Mart. I wanted no part of it. I'll be doing all my purchases on-line this year, just as soon as I get the new Archie McPhee catalog.