Archived Story

I never had shopped on Black Friday before

Published 9:13am Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Column: Tales from Exit 22

My life is a frenzy of mad shopping and unbridled spending sprees.

No, wait, that’s not my life. I was thinking of someone else.

I read in the newspaper about all the insanity during Black Friday and the accompanying injuries. People fought tooth and nail to grab what they perceived as bargains. A stampede in search of happiness on what should be called Black and Blue Friday. It makes me want to patronize the stores where police officers shop.

It was goofy.

You don’t have to be goofy to shop on Black Friday. It would help. So would being nimble and armed. The first thing a shopper should buy is a weapon. Pistols, Tasers and pepper sprays would make great stocking stuffers for those prone to Black Friday shopping. Tear gas is good for dry eyes.

I’m goofy, but I’d never shopped on Black Friday. I’d never belittle folks who enjoy competitive shopping that will likely become an Olympic event one day. Whatever makes your rubber duck squeak. Those good folks hoist the economy upon their shoulders. I appreciate the gifts I’m given by those intrepid souls who venture into such dens of iniquity. I love the bedroom slippers equipped with headlights and the pearl handled letter opener — even though I’ve never received a single pearl handled letter. I don’t even enjoy shopping when it’s not life threatening. I like to spend Black Friday doing things like not shopping. Someone has to stay home to tend the wounds of those daring enough to shop on Black Friday.

The first day of Christmas begins the day after Thanksgiving. I buy Christmas gifts. I give Christmas presents. It’s fun to do good things for other people. It’s true that I sometimes forget that I bought something. I’m better at hiding than giving. I’ll put something away in a good place so I’ll remember where it is. Then I forget that I bought it. I just found a gift that I had purchased in 1992. An unlooked-for surprise that I’ll give to someone this year. It’s still in its package and may now be an antique.

I have not succumbed to the hype. I don’t camp in a parking lot in order to get a door-busting good deal. I had never shopped on Black Friday. Until this year.

It’s difficult to change. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Change is hard because the older one gets, the better chance the brain and stubbornness have become close friends.

It wasn’t really a Black Friday. It was more of a Gray Friday when I shopped.

I shopped locally — a used bookstore and a hardware store where I wasn’t just another hick in the mall. Neither store could ever be called a big box store. Because both were operating at regular hours, my wife and I were able to go with a no huddle offense. Both enterprises were busy, but I didn’t feel in physical danger in either business, although I did experience some discomfort when I strolled past the political books section. I had to look at door hinges in the hardware store in order to calm my stomach.

For me, shopping unfolds like molasses ice fishing.

I recall days when few stores were open past supper (dinner today) and pretty much nothing was open on Sunday. Some folks considered shopping on Sunday to be a sin. My father bought all his gifts at Einar’s Hardware. His shopping motto was, “If Einar doesn’t have it, you’re not getting it.”

Dad also told me that a man needs a place to go. He went to the barn. I believe that sometimes a man needs to go nowhere.

Grinches growl that we buy things that we don’t need with money we don’t have. Shoppers are drawn by deals and thrills. Nonshoppers maintain they can save more by not shopping. Psychologists talk about something called the “hedonic treadmill,” a condition in which the gratification from a purchase is short-lived.

Now that I’ve shopped on Black Friday and survived, I may need to join a support group. Black Friday may become an Olympic event, but I’ll likely not be an avid participant. I’m going to invent a sport and then not tell anyone about it. That will make me No. 1 in the world in that sport.

Until then, I plan to heed the advice of Robert Brault who said, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

I wish you each a shadow of happiness.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.