Black Friday encourages violence amongst shoppers

Since I was old enough to spend my allowance on Christmas gifts, my mother and I have gone Black Friday shopping. Personally, I’ve always found the idea more exciting in theory than in action.

I never know what I’d like to buy my friends and family by Thanksgiving.  Christmas may be my favorite holiday, but it’s still a ways away from Thanksgiving, especially for someone who stresses over spending money as much as I do.  I have to really want something to make the purchase.  And if it’s for someone else, it had better be perfect.  Needless to say, tradition or not, my mother and I have never been women that join the masses of people camping out in parking lots for days in advance to procure a toaster oven at 50 percent off.

Even this year, as my mother and I arrived at a Target in SoCal ten minutes after midnight, only to see the longest line we’d seen in years, we were in the store less than ten minutes later and had absolutely no problem politely finding and paying for our discounted products.

It may seem strange that I chose the adjective ‘politely.’  It isn’t, I assure you.  I may not understand the dedication, but if it pleases, I have no problem with people I don’t know spending their holiday in a tent.  But in my 17 years of acquired wisdom, I’ve never seen fit to abuse the absurdity of the holiday with violence.

Yet the next morning after naps and snacks, I sat on the couch with my family—puzzled, amused and a little shocked as the local news revealed that a woman (aptly labeled by authorities a “competitive shopper”) had pepper-sprayed 20 shoppers to get to the Xbox section of a Wal-Mart.

LAPD, after reviewing surveillance tapes and speaking with eyewitnesses, has recognized the possibility that mob mentality and a fear of being trampled may have driven the woman to attack unsuspecting holiday shoppers. However, it seems likely that her intentions were simply to get her hands on a gaming console, considering that she grabbed one and made a bee-line for the cash register as those around her fell.

The Black Friday madness doesn’t stop there, though; 226 million people shopped this year. According to a report by Hayley Phelan on Fashionista.com, one of those people was shot and mugged for his purchases, one was stabbed outside a Macy’s, and one suffered death from heart-related problems, only to be stepped over by his fellow shoppers.

At a Wal-Mart near Little Rock, Ark., a mob of entranced shoppers beat their way through to a display of $2 waffle makers.  A video of the incident released on YouTube shows shoppers clawing and kicking and pulling at one another, audible squealing and screeching coming from the throng.  One woman with her back to the camera even seemed to be losing clothing in the struggle.  Near the end of the 48 second clip, she can be seen—pants half down—absconding with at least four of the coveted waffle makers.  I ask: Why in God’s name does your kitchen need four of those?  It would seem by the size of the crowd that the woman’s friends couldn’t possibly need them as gifts, as all of Arkansas appeared to be there.

Even the commercials for Black Friday seemed overly obnoxious this year.  I have seen very little television since moving to Tacoma, and I can’t say I was overjoyed to see the weepy, neurotic depiction of a Target shopper gearing up for the big day that formed the backbone of the corporation’s Black Friday campaign.  The red track-suit clad crazed shopper almost made me want to skip Target’s sales altogether.

I hardly see the need for these shenanigans.  You need a waffle iron?  Buy one. But don’t punch your neighbor who lives three doors down in the face so you can grab a third one before she does.  Your son really wants Skyrim? Great.  Order it on eBay or just opt to leave the pepper spray at home if you feel you can’t control yourself. Thinking about shooting a man so you can have the six waffle irons he just bought?  Go apply for a job and you can buy your own.  And for goodness’ sake, someone stop airing those obnoxious commercials.

They are awful.