I am tired, my legs are achy, I’ve been hungry at odd hours of the day, and my wallet is considerably lighter… but I feel victorious after having survived Black Friday.
I shopped somewhat casually, but with purpose. Not with the determination of some, who set up tents on the eve of Thanksgiving in Cuyahoga Falls, willing to camp out more than a day — and bypass the traditional holiday trappings — to snag a cheap computer. But I was on a mission, and, by and large, I completed it.
Of course, my experience is greatly colored by the fact that my husband and three older children were handling the major purchases. They were being treated to a VIP shopping experience at Best Buy, after my husband had won a nationwide essay contest and earned himself a limo ride and a $1,000 shopping spree. For all of us, it was the experience of a lifetime. The children — ages 10, 11 and 13 – will remember this all their lives, from waking after only a few hours’ sleep to throw on clothes and greet the limousine at 2:45 a.m., to being interviewed for the TV news, to being the center of attention for several hours at the store, to the triumphant return home with toys galore. It felt like Christmas morning, as they played, fell asleep on the floor, and generally lounged all day.
Because I wasn’t allowed to ride along on their adventure (we were limited to my husband and three others, so I let the three big kids have those spots), and my father and stepmother graciously offered to stay with the little boys, I left soon after the limo did and headed toward Walmart. I got $3 pajamas and track suits and $7 winter boots for the boys, along with a few movies and video games for the older ones. Once I cleared the checkouts at 5 a.m., I headed toward Old Navy. Wow – now that was a crazy line, even two hours after the store opened, lines were nearly to the back of the store. Nope, I could wait till later to get the $5 holiday graphic tees my girls coveted.
I moved on to Kmart, in hopes of finding an Axe gift set for my son. The one in the ad looked considerably less impressive in the store, so I passed. Maybe I’ll find something like that later.
By that time, the limo was nearly home, so I headed back to be there for their grand arrival. It was still dark when they returned, victorious, with their treasures and aglow with the excitement of their morning.
After we slept for a couple of hours, I headed back out when my sister-in-law informed me of $10 computer security software available at Staples, even after their 10 a.m. cutoff had expired. Turns out they also had “free” batteries (well, you get a refund in store credit, in January), cheap blank DVDs, and a computer keyboard that I thought could replace the noisy one I’m click-clacking away at now. By that time, the lines at Old Navy were a little more reasonable, so I quickly picked up the items I wanted there, hopped in line, and cleared that store in about 20 minutes.
On to Ace Hardware, inside Buehler’s River Styx store, where I was glad to pick up a $9 dog bed (shhh) for Lucy, our yellow Lab. We missed out on that deal last year, so I was happy to redeem myself this year. Maybe now she’ll sleep on her pillow instead of the bed.
Once I got home and checked out the anti-virus software a little better, I wished I had bought a second one to make sure all our home computers were protected. Called the store and yep, they still had plenty and were honoring the price — but it had to be today. Sigh. Another trip out. Was it really worth it? Yes, I decided, it was. I knew I would regret NOT getting it if I didn’t seize the opportunity. So, out I went again, at 5:30 p.m.
I forgot about some other stops I had thought I would make, and deliberately avoided some, in the interests of keeping some cash left in my wallet. You really can get bargain-poor on days like this. But standing in line for a good portion of the day left me a bit reflective:
* I am thankful for the cheerful clerks who did not seem angry and resentful that they had to work while the rest of us “played.” Although, trust me, shopping like this is not for the faint of heart.
* I am thankful for my various writing jobs, and the full-time job of my husband, which put money in our wallets so we can spend it occasionally.
* I am thankful for weather that wasn’t bitter cold, as it has been some Black Fridays, and the hint of snow was just enough to cement the Christmas-morning feeling I had going.
* I am thankful that Black Friday only comes once a year, so we don’t expend so much — of our time and energy, as well as our money — very frequently.
Chances are, by next year, I will have forgotten about the sick feeling in my stomach brought on by lack of sleep, and I will have dismissed the hours spent in line at Walmart as a small price to pay for a cheap computer. And I will take my place in line, probably with a daughter as company, to stake my claim on the deal of the day.
Just be sure to pack me a pillow. That floor looks rather hard.