I don’t get Black Friday. I make it a rule not to tell other people how to run their lives, so it doesn’t matter all that much. But I confess I don’t understand rushing through Thanksgiving so you get get out and fight the crowds to buy shit.
According to Wikipedia, the term Black Friday originated in Philadelphia and referred to the bad traffic on the day after Thanksgiving. Now it has pretty much come to mean the day when retailers go from operating “in the red” to turning a profit for the year.
It was crazy enough when stores began to open at 6am on Friday morning, and people would stand in line all night. Then 5am, and then 4am, and pretty soon it was midnight. Now in 2013, opening on Thursday afternoon is common. In 5 years, it will be 6am on Thanksgiving day.
In the slower pace of the 20thcentury (I can’t believe I wrote those words), most people still preferred eating turkey with their families to shopping. But will that hold up in the future? Given the choice of finding bargains on Thanksgiving day or going through all that hassle to cook a turkey, wash the dishes, and put up with Aunt Ethyl, it’s going to be less straight forward. Particularly if the stores start handing out coupons for a free turkey sandwich with every $100 spent.
And let’s face it: if the pilgrims had a decent mall, the whole Thanksgiving feast thing would never have gotten off the ground.
Just imagine. Elementary schools can put on plays about the joys of finding the perfect electronic toy for little Jacob and Isabella.
The day after Thanksgiving has always been a funny sort of day. Not a weekend, really. No built-in entertainment like the day after Christmas and all those still-unbroken new toys. Can’t just stuff yourself for two days in a row. What to do, what to do?
But hasn’t “Black XXX” always been associated with something bad? Before the current spate of craziness, we have 11 incidents that Wikipedia refers to as Black Friday, including Eyemouth disaster in which 189 fishermen died (1881), a massacre of protesters in Iran (1978) and a series of bomb explosions in Mumbai, India (1993). Most involving loss of life; none of them pleasant.
But wait! I have an idea!
What a great day to spend with a book! If you’re reading this blog, you have a bookshelf jammed with books you’re dying to read. And if you just feel the urge to buy another one, why, you don’t even have to leave the house anymore. Break out your Kindle-type device, order up that latest book on the Soul Mate Publishing best seller list, and get after it.
And if you should lose track of time and discover it’s noon, why, you can make your own turkey sandwich.
Happy Black Friday.