Sunday, December 1, 2013

Season's Beatings at Brawl Mart

I've done it in the past, not so much out of a deep-seeded need for anything being offered but more rather to observe the idiocy or because I was dragged. And while I've done it in the past it's not anything I ever plan on doing again, although there are those among you out there who positively relish the experience and revel in the chaos like it's a game.

Of course, I'm talking about Black Friday shopping.

As a rule, I eschew mobs and frenzied crowds. I'm not agoraphobic; I just don't like idiots, especially idiots in large groups. And really, what is a Black Friday crowd but a large group of people mere seconds away from turning into an animalistic mob after one idiot provokes another idiot after doing something idiotic, and taking the rest of them over the edge with idiocy??

Seldom do I see anything in the sales flyers that I desire, let alone desire enough to brave the angry throngs well before sunrise, clawing and shoving as they clamor for a discounted DVD. A couple years ago my wife got up early and spent an hour securing us a new flat screen for the bedroom at a decent price. I however was working. The fact that I generally work rather early the day after Thanksgiving means I seldom if ever give a second's thought to participating in the madness.
It's bad enough when people wear pj pants to Walmart but full on jammies and robes at Sears? STOP IT.

I recall in years past when you didn't know what the "deals" were going to be until they came out in the Thanksgiving Day paper. Now it's gotten so damnably competitive among retailers that the flyers get leaked on special websites days and even weeks in advance now so people can tag team and plan their assaults. I really don't remember any hullabaloo about Black Friday when I was a kid. Then suddenly it became stores opening really early, and then people standing in line at 4am, and then people camping out all night in frigid temperatures, and then stores opening at 10pm on Thanksgiving, and now, well, retailers are so desperate to part people from their wallets that they would rather sacrifice any semblance of it being a holiday whatsoever and open either at 5PM or just throw the whole day in the crapper and open like normal.

Thanksgiving used to be sacrosanct, one of the two or three days a year that pretty much every business would close so that employees could spend a well-deserved day with their families. My own employer is closed only two days a year, Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Now, I'm a capitalist and I believe in businesses being able to do business and make profits, but even I have to draw the line at forcing employees to be away from their families on one of the two biggest holidays of the year and I just can't be a part of shopping to support the decision of those businesses to be open on Thanksgiving.

However, some people I know were okay with working on Thanksgiving. One of my friends made about $600 for just one shift of work from overtime and holiday pay bonuses. And another of my friends had this to say, "Today I'm thankful to be working on Thanksgiving. 3 years ago, I did not have a job to go TO, and no hope of finding a steady one for several more months. Things were very, very bleak indeed. So when I say I'm grateful to have heat, lights, and a full day of work to come, it's 100% sincere. Enjoy your day!".

Just for laughs, after reading on Facebook how crowded my local Walmart was around 8PM Thursday, we drove by on our way home from dinner to see if it was the pandemonium being reported. On the way we passed the shopping center where the local Belk's department store was opening and it was indeed a zoo. I'd never seen the parking lot as packed as it was in the ten years I've lived here. Continuing on, the Walmart was indeed slammed, with overflow parking spilling into an adjoining strip mall's parking lot and onto the grass along the entrance road.

In my sleepy little village of 6,000, we have a rather nasty crime problem with folks shooting each other, mostly in gang-related predominantly black-on-black violence. I fully expected to hear horror stories from the local news about someone getting knifed or shot over a TV or XBox. However, none were reported. Instead, reports of lunacy abounded from elsewhere in the nation.

At 2AM things got nasty at the Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, with it being caught on tape.  Conflicting reports of the fracas differ on whether or not a stun gun was used during the fight. A woman was trampled by fellow shoppers at a Walmart in Clinton, Utah, on Thursday night. Police told the Salt Lake Tribune that store employees brought out a pallet of computer tablets around 8PM and were in the process of cutting off the cellophane when about 200 shoppers rushed forward to grab the items. A video of the incident was posted to YouTube. The woman was knocked over and stepped on, according to police, but was unhurt.

In Rialto, California a police officer was injured, breaking his wrist, trying to defuse tensions in the parking lot of a Walmart over shoppers said to be cutting in line. The incident happened around 7PM local time on Thanksgiving. At least three people were involved in the fight and two were taken into custody.Police blamed the chaos on the store’s decision to open the doors an hour early on Thursday night to more than 3,000 people crowded outside. At a Chicago-area Kohl's store, police shot a man believed to be involved in a shoplifting incident escaping in a car that was dragging another officer who had become entangled in the car after struggling with the fleeing subject. The dragged officer suffered a shoulder injury, the Associated Press reported. Two men in Claypool Hill, Virginia, were arrested after one allegedly stabbed another with a knife during an argument over a parking space Thursday night at Walmart. The stab wound was deep enough to hit bone.

In New Jersey, a shopper was pepper-sprayed and arrested Thursday evening when a heated dispute with a fellow shopper over a television led to an argument with a Walmart manager. After the manager called for help, the shopper attacked a responding officer. Officers also ticketed a 29-year-old woman who spit on another woman's child during an argument over infant clothing at the same store, police said. Stay classy, Jersey. In Las Vegas, a man was was shot in the leg as he was walking to a nearby apartment complex after purchasing a big-screen TV at an area Target store and trying to wrestle his newly purchased big-screen TV back from a thief who had just grabbed it. In Florida a man was arrested late Thursday after leaving his 2-month-old son alone in his locked vehicle to stand in line at the Waterford Lakes Best Buy. In White Plains, New York, a Walmart was evacuated Friday after employees and shoppers were warned of a possible bomb threat.

I don't make a habit out of reading the HuffPo since it's usually Leftist twaddle, but they also noticed how crappy it's getting for Walmart on Black Friday/Gray Thursday. However, you sure as hell don't see Wally World stopping the madness, or staying closed, because they want your money at all costs. Again, I believe in business and profits, but filthy lucre amidst the mobs is just nuts.

It's becoming the new American holiday tradition.

In 2008, a Walmart worker was trampled to death in New York as 2,000 shoppers stormed the store at 5AM. Later that day, in Palm Desert, California two people\were shot to death at a fight at Toys R Us. I don't wanna grow up, indeed....

California mall shooting on Black Friday 2010

Fighting over towels at Walmart in Texas
In 2010, a woman was arrested in Wisconsin who had cut in line, warning those unhappy with her that they would be shot. Also in 2010, several people were injured while fighting over towels that cost $1.28 at a Walmart in Texas. Last year, an argument over a Florida Walmart parking spot led to two people being shot. In 2011 in Phoenix, a grandfather was roughed up by police after he put a game in his waistband to free up his hands to lift his grandson above the crowd.  He was slammed to the ground by cops, who assumed that he was shoplifting. Also in 2011, 20 people suffered minor injuries at a Los Angeles Walmart when a woman used pepper spray on them to get to the front of the line when the store opened Thanksgiving evening.

Arizona grandfather  taken out by cops
And of course, since we like to export all our bad habits to the rest of the world, it seems only fitting that Black Friday violence should spill over to Europe as well. All sorts of violence was reported at various outlets of the Asda chain, owned by, who else, Walmart. In Belfast, a woman received a broken arm after being caught in a stampede over discount televisions, while elsewhere a pregnant woman was violently shoved and several elderly shoppers were knocked to the groun by a crowd. In a Bristol branch of the store, a man got in a heated argument with staff after being told he could only buy one cut-price TV. He was escorted away by security, before having to be restrained by five members of staff. After cutting one of their faces, he was arrested by the police.

The guy in Bristol getting taken down in the parking lot

Not quite the riots of your American cousins, but give it a couple years to catch on. Tis the season after all, and nothing says Happy Holidays like stomping people over a TV.

1 comment:


The BLACK FRIDAYs Convergence with Thanksgiving and Hanukkah

This issue is all about dealing with Black Friday without hordes and violence. If you suffer with Enochlophobia (fear of crowds) or if you just don't like shopping, this blog is for you!