Friday, November 23, 2012

And Then I Went Black Friday Shopping

Early yesterday evening, I heard through my post-turkey coma that my sister and cousins were going to Walmart to pick up a game of Catchphrase. Repulsed by the very thought of the den of white-trash iniquity that is the Logansport Walmart, I ignored this news and went back to sleep. A few hours later, though, I was faced with the prospect once more.

As it happens, on their first excursion to Wally World, my relatives were informed that Catchphrase was not being sold at the time and that, in order to purchase it, they would have to return at 8:00 for the first round of Black Friday deals.

(Why Walmart wouldn't just let them buy the thing at full price, thus bringing in extra profit, I do not know. But I digress.)

During dinner, then, the countdown began. "Guys, it's 7:31. Only 27 minutes until we need to leave."

"Leave for what?" the older relatives would ask.

"Walmart Black Friday shopping, of course! Sarah, you should come with us!"

After a few moments expressing my instinctual disgust at everything involved in this offer - Black Friday shopping, Walmart, excessive time spent away from my bed, Logansport natives - I realized the promise that this option held. 

What, after all, could make a better blog post than a firsthand view of Walmart on Black Friday (Eve)? Few things, it seemed. So my sister, four cousins, and I piled into one of their tiny cars, inexplicably turned on some Macklemore, and headed out.

As we approached Walmart, I started to realize the full magnitude of what we were about to face. For you see, the parking lot at the still-new-ish Logansport Super Walmart is big. According to my calculations, were it made of cropland instead of pavement, it would, by itself, be the third-biggest farm in Cass County. And by the time we pulled up, the lot was completely full. Every space occupied. Across the street, too, the parking lot at Buffalo Wild Wings was filled to capacity, as were, it appeared, the parking lots of both nearby banks. We grabbed the last available makeshift spot around the perimeter of the BDubs lot and headed over.

Keep in mind, of course, that I was still dressed for Thanksgiving dinner. Toms, tights, flippy skirt, bow-embellished Madewell top, leather jacket...

I think I could've walked into that place in a ballgown and moon boots and received fewer weird looks than I did last night.

So, Twitter-enabled phone in hand and kicking myself for not carrying a reporter's notebook or voice recorder, I walked in.

Laid out before me was every nightmarish vision of Black Friday shopping that I had ever had. Seemingly every teen mom and baby daddy I graduated with was there, decked out in flannel pajama pants, blinding neon hoodies, and varying degrees of house slippers. Dozens of people had screaming infants strapped into their carts. One woman had clearly missed the "men's department" sign wherever she had bought her T-shirt, a hot pink number emblazoned with "DON'T LAUGH THIS IS YOUR GIRLFRIENDS [sic] SHIRT".

The man who found us Catchphrase mentioned that a woman had come by earlier in tears over her inability to find the telescopes.

In the gun aisle, I am relieved to say there were no markdowns. I was less than relieved to discover that Walmart has a gun aisle.

The line for the deals of "Event 2" in the electronics department - savings that would not take effect until 10 PM - snaked up and down four neighboring aisles and was fenced in by enough caution tape for the scene of a mass homicide.

As we progressed through the store, it became clear that the chances of a riot were, to my chagrin, quite slim. The ability to induce a riot, however, was shockingly easy, since many of the deals were marked only by very moveable balloons with prices printed onto them. How did that "ONLY $10, ONE NIGHT ONLY" balloon end up sitting on top of a stack of microwaves? Huh! Weird! I don't know anything about that!

Come checkout time, we discovered the true idiocy of our fellow shoppers. We bypassed a 100-or-so-person line that seemed to be funneling into checkout lines 15-20 to become the only people in the store to notice that lines 15-19 were, in fact, almost completely deserted. We settled into the 2-person line at aisle 17 as the entire population of the store unwittingly stood in line solely for checkout desk #20.

So, all told, we survived Black Friday at Walmart. I could've done with a bit more outright violence, but I can't say it wasn't still a weirdly hilarious yet appalling view of the disgusting state of Logansport humanity. Maybe next year I'll be so bold as to try Kmart.

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