Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday, Blow by Blow

I hate shopping in stores. I can never find anything, I despise
waiting in line, and I hate having to lug it all home. On-line
shopping has completely ruined me in terms of wanting to get in my
car, find parking, walk up and down the aisles in search of things on
my list, jostling with others over that last clearance item, waiting
in line to check out, loading it all in the car, driving home, and
schlepping it all inside.

So naturally, I did Black Friday this morning.

I'm up that early anyway, so I might as well make the most of that.
Plus it's the kind of thing you just have to do once in your life,
like watch the apple drop in Times Square.

Well, this morning was my one, and likely, only time, at least until
the kids are old enough that they can either come with me or be OK if
I'm not home by the time they wake up. Hence, a blow-by-blow account
of my brush with American shopping at its finest.

1:00 am - Jada's cries wake me up from a dead sleep. After I get her
settled, I half think about just staying up and starting my day. I
decide to go back to bed, close my eyes, and see what happens.

3:00 am - The alarm rousts me from another dead sleep session. I
groggily roll out of bed, limp to my desk, and open my Bible.

3:30 am - Prayed up against the insidious temptations of covetousness
and impatience, and teeth sufficient brushed, I head out for King of
Prussia Mall.

4:00 am - No traffic means I get there in record time, but then circle
aimlessly looking for the JC Penney. I finally find it, park my car,
and walk up to the front door just as they open. About a hundred
people rush in with me.

4:05 am - I've found my first, must-get item: a pre-lit Christmas
tree. I pull the tag off the hook and go to checkout. Five people
are already ahead of me.

4:10 am - I pay for the tree and then wait twenty minutes for them to
get it. When I ask the guy if he thinks I'd be able to just lug it to
my car, he plops the tree down in front of me and says, "It's not
heavy, just bulky." (Later on, I look at the box and it says, "Gross
Weight - 60 pounds.")

4:30 am - I lug the 60-pound tree down the escalator, through the
store, and out the front door to the car. Jamming it into our 2006
Chevy Aveo involves shoving our two car seats into the trunk and
ramming both front seats as far up as they go. Even then, if the tree
had been three inches taller, I would've had to drive home with one
door open.

4:40 am - Nothing else is open, so I head back to Penney's and, in
five minutes, grab a handful of other items for our family and others.
Best buy of the bunch: a 5-piece luggage set for less than forty
bucks.

4:45 am - The checkout line is now reaching mythical lengths. As we
all wait in the endless queue, hordes of people stream through the
doors: packs of giggly teenage girls saying things like "omigod, it's
like so early," mismatched married couples (guess which of the two is
wide-eyed and which looks disgruntled?), and stern-faced soccer moms
with an "out of my way, I'm Christmas shopping" look in their eyes
(and, in the case of one group, that same phrase on their
sweatshirts).

5:10 am - Twenty-five interminable minutes later, I finally get to the
front of the line. The checkout person is nice enough to find me a
ten-dollar-off voucher in their circular; I respond in kind with a
"hang in there" and a smile once we complete our interaction.

5:15 am - I leave the store and realize there are now hundreds of cars
in the parking lot and I have no clue where mine is. Somehow, by the
grace of God, I am able to locate our car, which is roughly the same
color as nighttime.

5:45 am - Again, no traffic home. I unload everything and try in vain
to secure our car seats back in the complete dark. This will have to
wait until the sun rises in a few hours.

5:55 am - I and my bounty are safe at home. The kids are still
asleep. Mission accomplished.

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