The Friday following the American Thanksgiving Day is known as Black Friday and today is Black Friday. Retailers here designate today as the official start of the Christmas shopping season.
It is the first of two days in a year when large North American retail chains open their doors at 5am and large North American women punch each other’s faces in, for a pair of $5 stockings. It is also the day when large North American men queue up all night in freezing weather, only to trample over each other while rushing inside when the doors open. Stocks are limited and they all want to be the first to get their hands on the Xbox that is selling at a 60% discount. It had been returned last June due to consistent malfunction and been shoddily patched up, repackaged and tucked away for disposal on Black Friday. But to those large North American men its a deal. They’re being thrifty, they’re being cool, they’re being smart.
You get to witness this bizarre Darwinesque tableau which seems like some grim futuristic sci-fi thriller, on another occasion, which the retailers associate with the official finish of the holiday shopping season – Boxing Day, December 26th. I have heard it being said that North American retailers make as much as 40% of their yearly profits, close to 40 billion dollars, on these two days alone.
Black Friday and Boxing Day together have been known to cause Tsunamis on the American Stock Exchanges. Check out the financial news and the blitz hits you with headlines such as “Big Box wins the day on Boxing Day” or “Dow Jones keeps up with the Joneses after Black Friday” or “American shoppers on a roll” or “Christmas shopping up 15% over last year. Have we turned around finally?”
As the big media and the big business together jerk you off and you get busy ejaculating, you forget to scroll down to page-3 and notice the smaller, less appealing titles, “Pregnant woman trampled in stampede outside Best Buy, loses baby, fighting for life” or “15 year old shopper loses both feet to frostbite, waiting outside Sears all night” or “woman stabbed in shopping queue altercation outside Macy’s” or “drunk driver plows his SUV into crowd of shoppers”.
And then, if you’re trawling the news videos, you might get to watch the obese sister of the woman who was stabbed in the Macy’s queue, all teary-eyed, sobbing, “All she ever wanted was a pantsuit, sniff, sniff.” And how much would the woman have saved by buying the pantsuit on Black Friday? 14 dollars and 40 cents.
The only time I went shopping on one of these days, I turned back after seeing the long queues. The souls standing there stamped their feet to stay warm, vapour escaping from their noses like they were smoke spewing geyser vents. They reminded me of an old Sovexport film I saw years back as a kid, which showed a vast glacier of shuffling humanity inching forward in a bread line at a government distribution center outside Stalingrad in blowing snow.
They were doing something other than just shuffle. With grotesquely smiles, they were all singing in chorus with contrived patriotic zeal. Something about glorifying the Soviet Union. About how they’ll ‘get there’, ie: be prosperous and happy, with hard work and unity. The camera zoomed in on a woman who staggered out of the queue and collapsed from exhaustion. But she didn’t miss a beat, remained in chorus, singing till her last breath as the scene faded out.
I saw a chorus here too that night when I went shopping on Black Friday. A chorus of ‘Yeeks’, ‘ouch’, ‘what the…’ and ‘f–k you, mo–er f—er’.