Fear of a Black Friday

“Are you ready?”

Through the binoculars I looked out from the porch of my house, over the highway, and toward the Wal-Mart on the other side. Six thirty in the morning and it was already overrun. Two women were slapfighting their way through the entrance, probably over the $398 iPads. A car screeched out of the neighbour’s driveway. He’s got two kids. They’d want an X-Box One. $350 at Target.

“Hey,” my wife said, pulling me back. “You good? If not, I can go get it myself.”

One of the women of Wal-Mart had the other in a headlock. She must need an iPhone 5s, too. On a two-year plan, you pay nothing for the phone.

“No, I’m good.” I handed the wife the binoculars. “I have to be.”

She looked at me funny. “Uh, okay. Good luck.”

I kissed her cheek and headed to the car. I patted my back pocket to make sure my wallet was still there–the last weapon I’d need today, but not the first. I looked down at my Greenpatch boots. Steel-toed footwear is standard issue for this. Just wish I owned a cup.

The car started and I headed out. I first passed the Best Buy. They opened at 6 and the inside was packed. No sense going in there for the $100 ereader. Got that on Boxing Day last year.

Traffic was busier than normal but nothing too bad. I pulled in to the parking lot just as the superstore was about to open. There was a small line, but these people weren’t here for groceries–just toys, housewares, and electronics. I could tell by looking that the two guys at the front of the line were here for the 50-inch TVs at $429. Another three would be going for the Actifry with 25% off.

Then I saw the four teens. They would be the problem.

I stood in the cold at the back of the line. The sun wouldn’t be up for another half-hour, but here we were. Vimy Ridge was fought early, too. Our boys won. Today, so will I.

The outer doors opened and we all pushed in. Past the inner doors, the line broke as a few people ran. The television twosome dashed toward the electronics at the back. So did the teens. They were fast and had youth on their side. I had experience.

“Oh crap,” I shouted from behind. “They put all the PS4s on that skid by the checkouts!”

The teens turned left without looking and ran toward the row of tills. They didn’t realize their error until they were staring at the pile of two-piece luggage sets going for $69. I walked swiftly and found my box. I picked it up and headed to the cash desk. One of the teens cursed at me and gave me the finger. I kept walking. A woman holding a boxed microwave for 25% off was yelling for her husband, carrying a $59 Tassimo, to hurry up. Their two children wore parkas over their pajamas and were crying. No $40 R.C. car or $25 four-foot-tall teddy bear for them.

I presented my credit card, passed on the upsells, and walked out to the car with the bag in my hand and a bounce in my step. More vehicles raced into the parking lot, but I was done. I blared the radio on the drive back, singing off-key to “Paint It Black” as I parked in my driveway. I opened the door, saw my wife, and smiled.

“Did you get it?”

“I did.”

“Let me see.”

I opened the bag. She looked in, then up, scowling.

“You bought a Playstation.”

“Yeah, with Grand Theft Auto Five. Only four-fifty on no-tax day.”

“Uh-huh.” She rubbed her forehead. “Where’s the milk?”

I looked down at the box in the bag.

“Shit.”

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-JW