For a while there, I was able to resent Black Friday because it was the day that deprived us of having our son at home for Thanksgiving. He worked retail in that big blue box full of electronics store. Never mind all the other reasons, the glorification of greed, the exultation of excess. Some believe that merchants liked the name because it meant that would no longer be "in the red" after the receipts had been counted up for this celebration of commercialism. This perception is infinitely preferable to the notion that there is doom and gloom attached to all that capitalism. So a few folks get trampled trying to make their way to the pallet of Playstation 5 consoles at the back of the store. It's all in the service of the almighty dollar. What could be more quintessentially American?
Sadly, even though Thanksgiving as celebrated by Americans has not been adopted as freely as the day after by our friends across the globe. Folks in other countries can skip the turkey and stuffing and gear up more readily for the onslaught the day after at their local retailers. Perhaps not the export for which we should be most proud.
Nonetheless, crowds of shoppers with visions of sugarplums and savings dancing in their heads hit the malls hard last Friday, in search of deals. Which they found. They also encountered gunfire. In Durham, North Carolina three people were shot as the spending melee continued until authorities closed the party down. Among the wounded was a ten year old child. The stampede in this case wasn't so much for merchandise as it was for self-preservation. Only one person got shot up in Tacoma, but the flood of humanity was similar.
Meanwhile the new trend of "flash mob robberies" continues to spread as large groups of smash and grab thieves target mostly high-end retailers. Initially a California phenomenon, this crime frenzy managed to land in far away frigid Minneapolis on Friday.
At a Best Buy.
Am I happy to honor my son's wishes that we go nowhere near the mall on the day after Thanksgiving? Turns out it doesn't just save me a few bucks. It might be saving my life.