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Surviving Black Friday
Sudie Crouch

For those brave souls that will be battling one another for discounted stuff Friday, y’all have at it.

I am not about to drag my tater out of bed before dawn no matter how much I can save.

Some people love being out in the middle of the crowds, but the brouhaha has never been something I enjoyed.

Maybe Black Friday just isn’t my thing.

The first time I had ever went to a Black Friday sale was with my Mama when I was around 19.

Mama normally worked most holidays so if she was off, she was sleeping.

I was dating the Ex and saw what he wanted for Christmas– half price – in the Black Friday sale paper.

Mama rolled her eyes. “Are you sure you even want to spend that much on that boy? You don’t even know if you are going to be dating him in 6 months.”

We had already been dating a year.

“Mama!” I exclaimed. “Yes! This is what he wants; and it’s on sale.”

Mama muttered something about how it would still be too much if it were free but agreed to take me. “What time do we have to get there?” she asked.
“The doors open at 6 a.m.”

Back then, there was none of this crazy nonsense of being open at midnight or earlier, but 6 a.m. seemed awfully early for someone who probably got off work and home around 2 a.m.

But we went.

There were no hordes of people – if anything, Mama and I were the youngest ones among a handful of folks standing on the sidewalk. No people beating on the doors as if their life depended on getting their hands on the best deals. None of it. Want to know why?
“So what deals are y’all looking for?” Mama asked to break the awkward silence.

“Deals?” one lady asked confused. “We’re waiting for them to open up so we can get our mall walking in. We need to get an extra 15 minutes of powerwalking after eating pie yesterday.”

When the doors opened, I went straight to the rack and picked up my item.

No hustle, no bustle. No thrill of success.

I was in and out in 15 minutes, giving Mama enough time to ask about the return policy should by some stroke of luck we broke up before Christmas.

The next year, I was invited to Thanksgiving with his family in North Carolina.

“We will be going to Black Friday, so you may want to pack something other than your heels,” he told me.

Pack something other than heels? I wasn’t even sure I owned a pair of shoes that weren’t high heels.

“Why would I need to do that?” I asked.

“Because we will be doing a lot of walking. Like more than you probably do in a week,” he said. Do you see why Mama didn’t like him? “Your feet will be killing you and I don’t want you complaining about it.”

A day full of walking didn’t sound like a holiday to me.

I found some flats that were cute, or at least cute for flats, and packed them in my bag.

When we got to the mall in Charlotte I was astounded at the people.

I think everyone in North Carolina was in that mall. There were thousands and thousands of people going bananas.

I’d hate for a true disaster to happen; most of our population can’t handle 75% off sales a day after they have been loaded down with tryptophan and carbs.

And there I was in all my non-heeled glory, all 5 feet 2 inches of me.
Getting knocked around, pushed practically to the ground, and moved out of the way because I was just a short little speedbump in the path of these deranged shoppers.

I lost sight of the Ex in the sea of people.

A panic attack swelled in my chest and I let out a scream.

A loud, terrified scream that pierced the din of the mall.

The Ex heard it and turned to see me pushed up against a wall as people stomped by on the way to the next store.

“Are you OK?” he called out.

“No!” I screamed. “I am getting bounced around like a ping pong ball!”

When he pushed his way through the crowd, I grabbed onto his coat and didn’t let go until we were safely nestled inside a restaurant.

We were practically the only ones in there as the rest of the world was still shuffling around to get TV’s, VCR’s, and jewelry super cheap.

“I thought you’d like this,” he said as I picked fried chicken out of my salad.

“What made you think that?” I asked.

“You are at the mall in Athens so much, I am surprised you don’t have your mail delivered there,” he replied.

“Yeah, well, Georgia Square on a regular day – heck, Georgia Square on a busy Friday – isn’t this crazy. I like to shop, I like to spend money, and I love a deal as much as the next gal. But this is not my thing.”

“You haven’t even done any shopping though,” he observed.

I hadn’t. I had my list in my purse and none of it had things that were on sale.

What Granny wanted I could get any day of the week and the price was always the same at Peters & Fosters.

Mama’s makeup never went on sale.

Uncle Bobby wanted some records to play on his turntable that is now, 20 plus years later, back in style.

None of it was on sale this particular Black Friday in the early 1990’s.

“That’s OK,” I said. “I just want to go back to my hotel room and hide until time to go home.”

Two decades later, most of the items on my list still aren’t on sale. And I have learned to do my shopping the way God intended.

In my yoga pants, at home, far, far away from the crowds.