Black Friday: OK, I’ve learned my lesson

At the relations house on Thanksgiving, Grandma pulled out a bunch of newspaper ads for Christmas sales she had been saving. (Having been through the Great Depression, she saves everything.) “Door Buster” sales. 50% off! 5 a.m. ’till Noon. Hmmm. With nothing better to do I circled a few items from the Toys R Us ad, and got to thinking, “Hey, this might be a way to stuff the kids’ stockings on-the-cheap!” All I had to do was get up at 5 a.m. and fill my cart with fabulous bargains. How bad could it be?

List in hand, I arrived at the local Toys R Us at 6 a.m. (I couldn’t get up any earlier, the turkey was still wearing off). OK, no shopping carts — that’s strange, you would think they’d have carts out for the shoppers. Undeterred, I grabbed a basket from the parking lot and proceeded to work through the items on my list. Most everything I wanted was already sold out. (I guess I shouldn’t have been an hour late.) But I did manage to fill up my cart with some arts & crafts toys, four tubs of “moon sand”, some tubes of “Magnetix” magnet things, a tin of plastic tinkertoys (whatever happened to the wooden ones?), and a Ben-Ten wristwatch (sounds like the real thing.) All 50% off. Not a great haul, but at least I wasn’t one of these mom-uncle-grandmother teams all trying to keep a 6-foot stack of toys from falling off the cart.

All I had to do next was find the line. Cool, found it. I’ll be back home sipping coffee before the kids wake up.

A rather dour woman (probably from Oakland) in a red shirt approaches. “Sir, the line is back there. We are just keeping the aisle clear here.” “Uh, sure.” So, I head over to the line. Hmmm. Where is the back of this line. Keep walking. Around the corner. There it is. Odd. No one else has carts. “Yeah, this is the line to get into the electronics department.” “Huh?” “They have the Zune on sale.” “You’re kidding!?!” Right. Nobody, I mean nobody buys a Zune. Except, I guess, these people who got up at 5 a.m. I feel sorry for the poor kids who are hoping for an iPod for Christmas, but their loser parents are here buying them a Zune.

OK, where is the toy line? There it is. Nope. Around the corner. Down there. Nope. Keep walking. Down this aisle. This must be it. Nope. OK, this isn’t funny anymore. Keep walking. You gotta be kidding me.

Somewhere between the Lil’ Miss Glamour Makeup Set and the Enfamil was the end of the line. This sucker was snaking all throughout the store, doubling back on itself 6 or 7 times. This is nuts. Whatever. The kids are all asleep at home; I’ve got my StarBucks, my iPhone, and the “Ruby on Rails Cookbook” (I always bring something to read, even to school plays.) I’m set.

Now, the stupidest woman in the world has gotten in line behind me. I know she is the stupidest woman in the world because I’m listening to her chattering on her cell phone while she tries to push two stacks of toys along the floor with her feet. (She didn’t get the memo about grabbing a cart from the parking lot.) “Hi Stacy! You wouldn’t believe the crowd here! Oh boy, I bet there’s ten-thousand people here. Well, OK, maybe five-thousand. And, I’ve been in line for like, half an hour already.” (It had been 3 minutes.) She spots another toy that is on-sale. “Hey Stacy, do you know what the Millenium Falcon is? Is that cool? Oh, its Star Wars? Yeah, I think I saw that one. Oh. Its 30% off…. Well, it says its for an 8-year-old. Yes, I know he’s 3. Well… alright.”

I can’t concentrate on my Ruby-on-Rails book. I try listening to a podcast on my iPhone. My back is starting to hurt. We’ve been in line for 15 minutes and have moved 30 feet. Hmmm. 15 minutes / 30 feet. I should be able to calculate this. Let’s see, each tile on the floor is exactly 1 foot square. The aisles are spaced about 15 feet apart. There are 3 more aisles to go, down here, then 7 aisles, then a corner, then 7 aisles, then a corner, then 7 aisles, then down to the cash registers. OK, so that’s something like 28 aisles worth, or 14 30-foot segments, or, holy cow, 3 1/2 hours!! That can’t be right. But even if I’m off by 50%, that’s still an hour and 45 minutes.

I look at the stuff in my cart. Its all starting to look like a big load of crap. And there is always internet shopping where I bet I can find all this stuff just as cheap. The woman behind me is still blabbering on her cell phone. “But if you put a little vinegar on it, it clears it right up. Yeah, I saw it on Oprah.”

My body is moving out of line. Its parking the cart in an aisle. I don’t seem to be in control here. I’m picking up my StarBucks and Ruby-on-Rails book and heading out the door. My subconscious is firmly in control. Once outside, the cool morning breeze hits my face and I find myself back in my body crossing the parking lot. “Whoa. What was that?!?.”

I arrive back home and sneek in to the house. Everyone is still asleep. I’m logging in to Amazon.com. I’ve learned my lesson. No one needs to know.