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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

The black eye of Black Friday

Saturday, November 24, 2012

With the annual celebration of the birth of Christ, Christmas, comes the commercialization of the holiday. And each year I tend to play along.

While I'm very aware of the true reason for the season, and try to keep that in the forefront of my mind as I wade through the crowded aisles and masses of bargain shoppers the season seems to lure amongst the decorations of red and green, silver and blue, sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge.

It's bad enough we have to start getting bombarded with Christmas ads and reminders of great holiday deals before Thanksgiving hits, with carols blaring through store speakers in early November, but the lack of Christian hearts makes things that much worse.

We've had Black Friday for quite some time. The day after Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza loaded with amazing prices and limited supplies. Big promises, small delivery in most cases.

But now that's not good enough. We've got to interrupt the last few hours of family time on Thanksgiving and replace them with pre-Black Friday, early bird super sales. And people were knocking things over to take advantage of them.

Sure I looked at the insert in Wednesday's Northwest Iowa Shopper. Great prices "as long as supplies last," so after putting Friday's paper to bed, I went home, grabbed my daughter and her friend, and decided to go see what a Thursday night Pre-Black Friday event might look like.

After parking a distance away - due to a lack of available parking - I put on my elbow pads, donned my eye black, slapped on a helmet and shoulder pads, put on my finest pajama pant and headed out on this new adventure.

It was nothing like what I imagined it to be. It was worse.

People rudely climbing over one another, and that's no exaggeration. Shoppers standing shoulder-to-shoulder hoping to score the new Spider-Man movie for $9. People snatching video games. There was even an unconfirmed report of a video game shelf coming down. The electronics are always the hot commodity at these sort of events.

I came with an idea in my mind about a couple of bargains I might score, but after seeing the chaos and mass rudeness going on, decided instead there was nothing I needed that bad.

Then I watched in shock, perhaps the most upsetting thing of the night, as an older gentleman, confined to a motorized cart with a basket, attempted to maintain his place in the self checkout line while hordes of shoppers just ignored him and went around him.

He wasn't searching for $5 movies or $20 video games or discounted cookware. The man had a carton of milk, a loaf of bread and two or three other food items in the basket on the front of his cart. Unfortunately, the savages in their feeding frenzy couldn't find it in their hearts to let the poor old gentleman maintain his place as they continued to stream around him.

And I thought to myself, "Is this what Christmas has come to? Is this really what it's all about? People scoring the big deal at all costs. I wonder how many of the personal video deals in the cart are actually gift and how many are being purchased for personal use? I wonder how many of these people - "celebrating" this Christian holiday - are even bothered by the fact that they just stepped around an old man trying to buy his dinner for the week?

It's heartbreaking to think that Black Friday isn't enough; now all that is wrong with the Christmas season needs to start a few hours earlier.

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Randy Cauthron
One Man's Perspective