Friday, November 29, 2013

Sale to Black

Well, here we are again, on another Black Friday. As retailers compete for the large, but still limited, number of dollars that people are going to spend for the holidays, and online shopping has broadened the reach of both sellers and buyers to just about any place on the globe, Black Friday has gone from being a chance to use a day off from work to get a jump on one's Christmas shopping to a worldwide retail phenomenon. And in so growing, like any number of other things, it's gotten, quickly and with great enthusiasm, wildly out of hand.

Or, has it?

It's become fashionable for those of us who don't actually venture out into the insanity that's overtaken the day after Thanksgiving to sit back and cluck our tongues at the greed and cupidity of the people who break down doors, brawl over merchandise or literally trample people beneath their feet in the service of saving money on a DVD player or video game console. Which is logical - it can be really hard to fathom just what about a new television is worth it. And so, when someone comments: "If you're getting arrested for fighting over a $100 TV at Walmart, you should probably reevaluate your life choices," we all nod in agreement.

But, as the saying goes, bad ideas don't survive because they're bad ideas - they survive because they represent rational choices to the people that make them. And given that Black Friday has been spawning retail chaos for the past several years running, it's not sneaking up on people - there are a lot of people out there who, understanding what's likely to happen go and do it anyway. What drives them to do so?
It's a holiday thing. I wouldn't understand.
I have no idea. And I think that I should be overjoyed by that. It would simply never occur to me to be caught up in a situation like the one in the video. Sure, there are times when I see something and think: "That would be cool to have," or "This would really make things easier," but I've never felt so hard up for something that wading into a mêlée to get it has ever even seemed reasonable, let alone necessary. The desperation that drives people to this sort of behavior, whether it's to get a Black Friday "deal" or simply to keep themselves and those they care for fed, clothed and out of the elements, just doesn't compute for me. It's something that I can only understand in the abstract.

And, as much as I might like to, I can't take all of the credit for that. Many other people made choices that brought me to this place where, despite an occasional flash of avarice, I understand that I have enough (and sometimes, like when I'm packing or unpacking things, that I have too much) - and tonight, I'll raise a glass to them.

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