Every year I shake my head in utter disbelief at the craziness that is Black Friday. I mean I love saving money. I am incredibly frugal and taking advantage of a sale or buying something for less makes me see all the dollar signs of the money I am saving and gives me a happy feeling. But not such a happy feeling that I lose sight of the big picture and put those saved dollars above all else.
I remember when I was a kid and all of the (adult) women in my family would go shopping together on Black Friday. It seemed like they had a good time, and they knew what stores they were going to and were very strategic but it was a day they saved money, went out to lunch and enjoyed themselves. This was twenty years ago, before people would wait outside the night before. Or the week before. Or two weeks before! It was before Black Friday meant hearing about at least one person being injured, either from the mob waiting for doors to open, or getting into a brawl with a patron at some store. I mean I was left at home to play with my cousins, so I never experienced Black Friday in happier, more innocent and less cray cray times, but I find myself longing for the return of that innocence.
I understand saving money – it’s not just about being practical, when you save big you get this kind of rush that is wonderful. But how much money does a person save, waiting outside for fourteen days for a free flat screen that would normally retail for $1200? I mean I would think a person would lose more money than they would save. Assuming the person has a job and makes at least $15 per hour (the average wage where I live is $22.84 – we’re eleventh in the nation, so I’m not being crazy with thinking a good number of people where I live meet this criteria) is losing money, whether they are taking paid time off or unpaid time – how is losing money worth the inconvenience and the time?
For me, time is as valuable or more valuable than money, depending on the context. Why waste all that time? I mean in Hawaii or Florida maybe it can be a kind of fun camping experience, but here in Colorado or places that actually see cold winters – not so much. That is several days or hours (depending on how fanatical a person is) wasted, waiting. Maybe it’s just me – I don’t like waiting in lines, but how many books or snuggles or productive things could be accomplished in that time frame? And I don’t even want to think about how people who aren’t in groups/teams handle bathroom breaks. 😮
I know this is going to make me sound like an old fogey (what, do I not sound like one already? And I’m 30 by the way, so not sure I should sound this uncool yet) but I don’t see how saving a few hundred dollars on electronics is worth a week of my life. Or smacking another customer in the face for something that had a limited stock. Or hoping not to get trampled while making a mad dash when the doors to a store open or dealing with someone who wants to smack me for something I got my hands on first (but seriously if this ever happened that someone would be sorry, I’m seriously scrappy – ask anyone). And if people get together in peaceful protest (this is not about recent raiding, looting and violent demonstrations – peaceful was the key word there) you’re a hippy or a bleeding heart or some other undesirable upstart. But for commercial goods, you’re all American? Well that’s not the America I want to claim.
I did not mean for this to come out all judgy and I apologize for that. If you’re going shopping today please be careful. Be kind. And remember that the spirit of giving does not require anyone (including yourself) to get hurt. And if you are one of those people who wait outside for days on end, can you please explain to me how in the world it is worth it? I am not being judgy, I seriously want to know because the answer is one I cannot find.
Happy Black Friday everyone! I’ll be doing my shopping online from the safety and comfort of my trusty couch. 😉