Ok, so my title’s offensive. But you have to resort to shock to get the Google crawler interested these days. Unless you mention Lindsey Lohan’s rehab, Perez Hilton’s increasingly self-serving musings, Kim Kardashian’s whatever-she’s-famous-for, or say something relatively incendiary, you’re just not going to get ranked. (Are you listening Google? Crawl me. Please. I’m hungrier for attention than Sarah Palin.
So let me share with you my momentary lapse of judgement. Spoiler alert: it involves Wal-Mart. Ah yes, Wal-Mart, the place where I only go in the wee hours in dark glasses. It’s embarassing. Yes, I’ll say it. I buy my cat food at Wal-Mart because it’s cheaper than Tom Thumb, even though Wal-Mart’s vendor policies will probably put Iams out of business like they did Huffy Bicycles and those pickle people.
So I get this mailer from them earlier this week advertising their Friday-only specials. Now I’m not one to get up at 4 in the morning, but I’m usually up past midnight, which is when they begin their consumerist orgy. They have an electric griddle and a waffle iron that are made by Oster (which is a brand I like) for $9.97 each. Well, score. I don’t have either, and I’ve been been craving waffles lately, and an electric griddle is much more energy efficient than making pancakes on the stove. Wunderbar.
So I drive to Wal-Mart thinking nobody’s that crazy (which is always an underestimation, this is Texas after all), and when I get there at 12:05 the parking lot is packed. Shit. Well, perhaps it will be mostly restrained inside.
I get inside and it’s pandemonium. And not just regular pandemonium. Fat people pandemonium. Yes. They’re all fat. Not just Wal-Mart fat. Not just Texas fat. Not just sleep deprived fat (studies show sleep deprivation can exacerbate obesity). But like crazy “I should be on Cops” fat. I’ve never seen so many Big Dogs t-shirts in my entire life.
And they’re all going freaking crazy. The sale items are loaded in pallets and they’re going like hotcakes. The most ridiculous item I noticed that was really hot were these useless little two quart crock pots for $2.97 that people we taking multiples of. I saw a shopping cart go by filled with them. It was telling that the cheapest items went first, and in the greatest quantities. Ya know the type, 15 people on their list, so all they care about is getting 15 items at the lowest price.
Oh thanks for the thoughtful gift, sister-in law’s second cousin! I’m glad you thought of me in your drawstring pants and hoody that doesn’t the whole muffin top on that midnight back in November when you hit up Wal-Mart so you could spend as little thought and money as possible buying 15 of these pieces of garbage for all your friends! Let me buy you lunch somewhere nice next time I’m in town!
A police officer walks by and smiles at me. Perhaps he’s relieved to see someone dressed in clothing that covers their entire midsection. Perhaps he’s relieved to come across a shopper that isn’t clutching one of the Wal-Mart circulars with a frantic look in their eye screaming at their spouse and children to spread out so they can find the display quicker.
Most distressing were the people with the babies and small children. I’ve always been incensed by people who bring babies and small children to, oh, I dunno, R-rated midnight movies, Denny’s at 3AM surrounded by drunks, and other fine establishments that just scream “kid appropriate”. I can guarantee when I have kids, their holiday memories won’t enjoy a cranky middle-of-the night trip to Wal-Mart to load my cart with $3 mini food processors. Whatever happened to the boycotts of Black Friday as a protest to the rampant consumerism before the market crash? It’s been replaced with “fabulous deals!” – “great buys!” i.e. retailers that “care” about our cash crunch and want to make sure we have a happy Christmas even though we can’t spend as much as we did three years ago – because, by God, even though we’re short on money, we’ve still got to spend it to enjoy the holiday.
As I walked out of the store, having found both of the items I’d gone to check out were sold out in the first fifteen minutes, I thought about how I could use this experience to my advantage and make my Christmas better. So I concocted a manifesto for this Christmas season. I want to make sure I give thoughtful, engaging gifts. That’s the point of gift-giving – connecting with whom you’re giving the gift, not just “having something under the tree for them”.
My friend and former roommate Amy always gives me the most thoughtful gifts. Even though we live in different cities and don’t see each other often, whenever we have occasion to send a present, I’m always delighted by the ones I receive from her because it’s always obvious she’s taken into account my personal tastes and consumption habits. They’re not necessarily expensive or fancy, but the bold statement is always the same, “I care enough about you to know and remember what you’d like.”
That’s my takeaway from Black Friday. I hope all the gifts I give this holiday will say to the recipient “I’ve been paying attention.”