It’s Getting Crowded In Here!
I didn’t get out for Black Friday this year. In years past I’ve found myself mixing with the crowds. Although I was never one to start so early that I’m waiting in line for the store to open, I would venture out in the early morning of the day. This year the thought of pushing through a crowded mall was not something I desired to do.
I’ve been reading a little bit about “Black Friday.” The term actually was made up as a bad thing. It seems that the day right after Thanksgiving was a day that more havoc occurred than any other day of the year. There was more traffic, more accidents, and more crime. The police force had to be on high alert that day and increases in the number of officers working was a necessity. In spite of all of this normal havoc, retailers found that it was a very profitable day. Not liking the negative meaning of “Black Friday”, they wanted to make the term a positive one. The “Black” in their mind referred to the fact that on this day they would be very profitable and in the “black ink”, instead of the red. They kept the name and started hyping up the gigantic sales they would have. People naturally wanted the advertised good bargains the stores put out there. Not being one to stand in a line all night I would show up to the store at a normal morning time. Invariably I’d find a worker to ask if they had any more of the items. Usually the answer was “that was sold out in the first 15 or 20 minutes.” That very fact leads me to believe that even a night spent in the parking lot doesn’t guarantee that you will be able to buy the few big bargains that the store has!
On the surface it seems that people are waiting in those lines to get the big bargains, but I think there is something underneath all of that. I believe that the biggest reason people line up hours before the store opens is to be able to say they were there. I think it gives us a cause bigger than ourselves and we can tell someone in an excited tone “I was in the line with 100 other people at 3 am! A friend told me a story about relatives that were out waiting for a store to open. It seems that they were in the Best Buy line, which at the time was very crowded. Across the way was a Kohl’s store which at the time wasn’t crowded. Nobody rushed over to the other store even though they probably had just as good values. The fact that the excitement was in the line they were in made them stay in that line. Who wants to tell someone of the great adventure of walking right into a store with no rush as the doors opened? We would rather tell of the thrill of pushing through a crowded door and racing to the desired item!
For most of us crowds are a love hate relationship. We hate the crowded traffic but may love the crowded restaurant. You may argue that the crowded restaurant isn’t loved either, but I wonder why the restaurant is crowded? I think that there is a certain comfort zone that we have in going to a place where everyone else is going. The place down the road probably compares favorably in menu items, but where is the thrill of going somewhere nobody else goes? There is also that inward thought of “it must be good because everyone is going there.” I’m reminded of a Yogi Berra line when he was asked about a certain restaurant he used to frequent often. “Nobody goes there anymore”, he stated “it’s too crowded.”
Everyone when they are young it seems has answered a question from their parents as to why they did something? “I did it because everyone else was doing it.” Most of the time it seems the invariable question comes back from our parents. “If everyone was jumping off of a bridge would you do that?” We don’t answer that question but if we did the answer would have to be a resounding “yes!”
A statement was made by a lady when asked why they stand in line for hours before the store opens on “Black Friday?” “It is a way of bonding with my son”, was her answer. It wasn’t about the special offers the store had going. She explained that they very seldom had quality time together and this was a way to do it. Each year they look forward to that time together. I think it is very important to have that close relationship with our kids, and if that is the only way to get those precious moments go for it! However, I think that it tells a lot about our society and our fast paced world. When I was young we used to always eat at the kitchen table as a family thing. More often than not today meals are eaten around a TV set and the family bonding is replaced by the latest TV excitement.
This year “Black Friday” extended to “Black Thanksgiving day.” Some stores opened on Thanksgiving night to try to get a jump on the “Black Friday” event. Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of families getting together for a special day! Now it seems that the retailers are crowding in to disrupt it! Not only are we tempted to rush to the stores but thousands of people are required to work on a day that should be reserved for family time. How sad that greed interferes with core values!
I understand that retailers try to cash in and make “Black Friday” an exciting experience. In our society we seem to crave that thrill of the moment feeling. I’ll bet that yearly “Black Friday” participants would have a hard time remembering the items they bought on “Black Friday” three or four years ago. Our society is good at promoting us to run after the “thrill of the moment” escapes. We see it in drug abuse, alcohol, and other diversions. We dilute ourselves to believing that acquiring things will make us happy. Somewhere along the line we’ve lost our core values and a peace inside of us that is lasting and not store bought. Maybe it is time to get back to the basics of family values and bonding in natural ways. Perhaps we will get a warmth in our heart and a peace of mind! Only God can give that peace and his door is never too crowded. His peace is far better than finding ourselves before a “Black Friday” store opening in a crowded cold parking lot racing for the newest retail fad they throw our way.