Black Friday – A Religious Experience

Hail! Hail to thee Walmart, Goddess of Retail. Hail to thee and thine handmaidens Kohls and Target and Macy’s. Hail to thy big-box gods Costco and BJ’s and hail to those of lesser congregations – Sears. For this is your time. May your minions spread out Thanksgiving night and let the crusades begin!

When the last slice of carrot soufflé has been safely tucked into Tupperware, legions of finely tuned warrior shoppers launch their pilgrimage into the world of Black Friday. Right out of the gate they are ushered in by sirens handing out fliers for the sales that begin with great fanfare announced over the PA system. This flier will be your bible. Read it thoroughly. Follow it with reverence. If you can, memorize it. For it will lead you to a land of plenty. Plenty of robes, slippers and toasters at prices you never thought possible. But do not stray from the dictates of this journal for the registers will not ring up the sale price until 6:00 pm.

Crusades were always just one bloodbath after another. Be aggressive. Finding a parking spot will be the first hurdle. Circling until you luck upon someone pulling out is the most common strategy but running out of gas and getting towed dampens that game plan. If you can manage it, try to get airlifted in. If not, pack lots of snacks; the journey has just begun. Next secure your shopping chariot and ride it like you’ve never ridden it before. Overload it with merchandise to be returned within thirty days. Lodge it to block your competitors from running you off the aisle and into a rack of linens at regular price. Lean on it when fatigue and hunger begin to set in and the concession line is too long to grab a chile cheesedog.

Prepare well for the battle. At home practice standing still for days. Skip meals. Lose sleep. Don’t go to the bathroom. These exercises will prepare you to confront whole families of shoppers, each with their own chariot, clogging up an entire thoroughfare like some ill-bred aneurysm. Do not lose faith; remember – patience is a virtue, Eventually you will worm your way through home goods and ladies apparel to a region reminiscent of Newark International. Lines cordoned off with reams of yellow tape funneling you towards customs. Have your IDs at hand: license, credit cards, and emergency contact. For now you are on the cusp of the motherland ripe with exotic plunder from Vizio and Samsung and Toshiba. Electronics! The Holy Grail of Retail. Persevere and the gods may be with you when a commando in a blue (or red or orange depending on what store you’ve invaded) vest announces “anyone for a chromebook – over here”, and you can peel off into an express lane.

Many years ago, before the age of the shopping crusades, there lived a small department store named Eisner’s in the land of Lakewood. Among my family it was known as Shmattnik’s derived from Shmatta,the Yiddish word for rag. It was a store sparsely inhabited by shelves and racks. Mostly crates and flat tables of everything from polo shirts to rouge. With the quality of its goods being at the low end of the textile industry, even the winter coats had a shelf life of only two weeks. Sweaters came with the unmistakable scent of mothballs. But the price was right so everyone living close to the vest (and in those days, that was everyone) bought there. Now the Shmattnik business model lives on. In Walmarts from Toms River to Freehold, from Brick to Old Bridge, in Howell and in Neptune, huge open cardboard boxes of flotsam line the center of the main boulevards. Gold mines of commodities that no person in their right mind would ever think of buying. But such is the fervor of the religious zealot – you get to be in your wrong mind. How else to explain the baby bean chairs, denim jegging, and sertapedic pillows that reside as filler under the Christmas tree?

Unfortunately where there is a heaven, there must be a hell. And so it came to pass that evil lurks in a massive underworld -evasive and opaque. As surely as Satan competes for your soul, so does the devil of consumerism – Amazon! He will ply you with bargains no store can afford. With free deliveries and money-back guarantees. But sinners (or buyers-what’s the dif?) beware! It will lead to a life of sloth and isolation. Your communication skills compromised. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome lies in wait. For lack of actually walking, belly bloat and water retention plague the infidels who habitually bow to this monster.

Resist, if you can! Save the hundreds of sales associates displaced by this devil. Amazon cares nothing for you; your wallet is what feeds him. The hordes that yield to him on Cyber Monday exalt him to even greater dividends. So rise up! Get your hat; get your coat ; hightail it on down to your favorite brick and mortar. And be the best crusader you can be..

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