Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Spartan Daily

Spartan Daily
November 22, 2011
Black Friday apocalypse

News Sports Opinion A&E
Black Friday apocalypse
by Ryan Fernandez Nov 21, 2011 6:39 pm
Ryan Fernandez
They’re just outside the doors.
They’re just standing there, some silently, some making inhuman noises tinged with impatience. Others appear to be engrossed with whatever shiny, flashy thing they have in front of their faces.
They’ve stood there for hours, seemingly impervious to the cold and the dark, waiting for an opening, a structural weakness that would allow the gathered horde access to the only things that would sate their hunger.
For the unlucky people holed up within the store, fear is the most palpable emotion, with undercurrents of resentment and rage.
The people within have taken up defensible positions in automotive, menswear and linens, but they know the brunt of the assault will fall on electronics and toys, with lesser sorties against winter clothing and housewares.
They’re hiding behind makeshift barricades of tables and pallets stacked high with consumer goods — scanner guns and handcarts are their primary armaments, with an occasional grabber arm to augment their reach.
No, a zombie apocalypse is not upon us.
It’s Black Friday.
Why do I liken one of the busiest shopping days of the year to an event that heralds the end of the world as we know it?
It’s simple: What term, other than “zombie,” would you use to describe people who gather in large groups to mob a building, are utterly single-minded in their pursuit of whatever gratifies them at the moment, and will press toward their goal without pausing to heed bodily injury (either their own or others)?
Combine those traits with the ferocity and aggressive athleticism present in modern-day undead, and you have a living nightmare.
Also, I just rewatched the original “Dawn of the Dead” and I now understand the whole anti-consumerism theme that George Romero is supposed to have injected into it.
I make no claim to the moral high ground because I, too, have participated in the wanton post-Turkey Day carnage.
I have braved the cold and the darkness of the wee hours just for the chance to get something on sale.
I have stood in line at Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Toys R Us, J.C. Penney, Sears (but never Macy’s — I can never find anything that fits there) and so many other stores.
I have felt the thrill that comes with claiming the last DVD player on sale for 60 percent off.
I’m even considering going to Costco because the warehouse giant is offering a free cookbook to early-bird shoppers — and maybe I’ll pick up a gallon of Pepto-Bismol and a pound of Alka-Seltzers while I’m at it.
You can’t imagine how mortified and intrigued I was to learn that there would be stores open on Thanksgiving Day, just for people who finish eating ahead of time and can come up with an excuse to leave the celebration a little early.
I know, the sheer greed of the companies and the relentless consumerism of the public is disgusting, but feelings of revulsion can’t compare with a serious discount on LCD TVs.
Let’s face it, people confronted with their hearts’ desires (rather, their hearts’ desires as defined by slick marketing campaigns) are not the most rational beings, least of all when they’re in large groups, have endured hours of cold, and are afraid they won’t get what they want and all their suffering will have come to naught.
I’ve seen the videos and read the news stories of crowds trampling people just on the threshold of a store’s entryway, and those horror stories have made me more afraid than any gory zombie flick.
The deals to be made in person are tempting, but I think I’ll forego the horde this year and shop online.
When push comes to shove, I’d advise the shoppers to let go of the Blu-ray player. Do you really need a fifth player, even if it is 60 percent off?
To the retail workers out there, be safe, and remember, they’ll go after the ones bringing out new merchandise first.
The other theory is that the term Black Friday comes from an old way of recording business accounts. Losses were recorded in red ink and profits in black ink. Many businesses, particularly small businesses, started making profits prior to Christmas. Many hoped to start showing a profit, marked in black ink, on the day after Thanksgiving Day. Just like so many of our other holidays, the true purpose behind having a holiday called "Thanksgiving" is being totally obliterated by a tsunami of greed. Meanwhile, more Americans than ever are living in poverty this year and very few people even seem to notice. However, perhaps we should all take time this week to remember the tens of millions of Americans that are going to be deeply suffering this winter. They keep telling us that "the recession is over" and yet poverty continues to spread like an out of control plague. But for most Americans life is still relatively "normal", and so the horrible suffering going on out there doesn't really affect them.
Ted Rudow III, MA
Class of 1996

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