Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I had a wonderful time with my girlfriend Auby, our roommate Julie, my ex-girlfriend Erin, and Erin’s family and friends (which included two other ex-boyfriends of hers). It might seem a motley crew, but we all enjoyed each other’s company and had a really good time.
Today is “Black Friday.” The day where retail operations that had been running all day in the “red” suddenly swing into the “black” by a massive way of Christmas shopping. For me it seems yet another American ritual I haven’t had much use for. I tend to wait till the week before to go out and buy Christmas things. The lines aren’t as long and I can take my time. And, as it turns out, I can avoid being trampled to death by holiday shoppers as one 34-year-old man was in New York this morning. He was employed by Wal-Mart and was charged with opening the doors and unleashing the horde. Turns out he might have needed a co-worked with a cattle prod to do it safely.
When the crowd was reportedly told to leave because the store had now become a crime scene, the crowd would not disperse. To quote the yahoo story: “When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling ‘I’ve been on line since yesterday morning,'” she said. “They kept shopping.”
So many things about this story are bizarre. I can’t imagine being in line since “yesterday morning” which would mean you had spent the entire day of Thanksgiving lined up in the cold in pursuit of bargains. Like the dedication of certain “World of Warcraft” players, I’m never sure whether I should feel impressed by their dedication or bewilderment at how the chose to waste the time they have been given to live their lives in pursuit of something I find completely meaningless. Part of me wonders if this story should simply be chalked up to the selfishness of New Yorkers, or whether this is representative of how serious our entire culture takes consumerism. Consumerism seemed to be America’s secret weapon in the “War on Terror”. We would not let terrorism keep us from shopping, and therefore out country would prosper. Except that we didn’t prosper, we went deeper in debt.
I have a feeling that years, when consumerism and conspicuous consumption have gone very much out of style, this Wal-Mart employee will be remembered as a martyr who gave his life so that others could shop. What an excellent example of the bizarre senselessness we seem to be convinced is the American way of life.