Midnight Madness

Black Friday has always been, in my family, a chance to make fun of people who are so obsessed with finding a deal, that the laws of rational behavior no longer apply to them. After eating enough turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cornbread, apple pie, ice cream, and cookies, to fill up a small barn, I usually like to lie down on the couch and sleep until Christmas when I will wake up and promptly do it again.
But some people in America, lets say a couple million, find it necessary to wake up at the very butt crack of dawn, stand on line in freezing cold weather, so they can get 92% off a cashmere hat and scarf set. I even made fun of my dad when he went to Sports Authority 2 thanksgivings ago to purchase a $99 set of golf clubs of which the 6 iron snapped in half like a pretzel rod the second time I used it.
Sure I love a bargain; I would sleep in the changing room of the Banana Republic outlet if I could. But I have my limits. I won’t battle screaming hordes, I will not rise before the sun, and I will not wait on outrageous lines.

So I was more than a little confused when I found myself standing next to my sister at 11:57 pm Thanksgiving night waiting for the J.Crew outlet to open. How had I gone from distributor of sarcastic remarks and condescension, to active nutcase and midnight shopper? What the hell happened?
I lost my damn mind is what happened.
The clever email advertising got me hook line and sinker. The idea of an extra 50 percent off made me giddy. I literally had to have my sister tell me what I didn’t need from the items I was holding when we got to checkout. I get so greedy at these sales.

J. Crew also had a woman whose sole job was to be the greeter. I can’t think of a single human being (aside from maybe a hooker or a crack dealer) who would be happy to see a line of people trying to get into their store at 1 a.m. It takes a special kind of person to be the greeter. If they had made me the greeter, every person that walked in the door would have received this tasty zinger;
“Go home moron face!”
Perhaps greeting is not for me.
While waiting on the epic line I started doing a little dance to the music to keep myself from falling asleep standing up. My sister looked at me and said, “Don’t dance you look silly.”
Really? I am standing in J.Crew on a 60 person line at one o’clock in the morning holding a hundred dollars of merchandise for myself… what dignity am I clinging to at this point?
The woman behind me started laughing. She too saw the ridiculousness of the situation.
She mentions she is having so much trouble finding something for her husband. I looked down at my arms, loaded up with over 100 dollars of merchandise… for myself, and realized just how selfish I was. Not only was I ridiculous, now I had guilt to deal with as well.
I was bargain hunting for myself, in the middle of nowhere South Carolina, with a bunch of school children from Savannah who had showed up 6 hours early to wait for the Abercrombie Store and Hollister stores to open.
I was standing behind someone who said that it wasn’t that bad that they had to wait 3 hours for stores to open… so they could buy underwear and t-shirts. I know those stores are absurdly overpriced but are their underwear and t-shirts really that worth it?
I felt far superior to this simpleton. But, and this might be revealing a bit too much about myself, I have absolutely no will power and I am easily swayed by clever advertising.
Percentage off signs are really what do it for me.
Anything less than 20 percent doesn’t even warrant an eyebrow raise. If it’s 30 percent off, hey I might swing by at lunch time. If I see 40 percent off, I will definitely make some extra efforts to get there. And what I found out this weekend was, 50 percent off, I will leave the comfort of my couch, to drive 15 minutes, to stand with a bunch of nutcases up from Savannah so that I can buy a striped vest and some argyle socks.
Really Rich Boehmcke? This is the kind of man you’ve become?
I think what I found most interesting were the people waiting on a 40 person line, holding 1 item. And not even a big item like a cashmere coat or a new suit. No, they were holding like… a glove… or a sock. Granted there were some people on line who looked like they were trying to clothe their city, but most people only had several items.
In Banana Republic as soon as we walked in I just got on line. I didn’t have anything in my hands so I picked up a tiny purple woman’s sweater. I didn’t want somebody to ambush me and say something like, “HEY ARE YOU JUST A PLACE HOLDER?” I don’t really know if that is illegal, but when it comes to the type of people that wake up at midnight to buy socks, I really wasn’t willing to take any chances.
By the time we left at 2:30 a.m. the parking lot had emptied slightly… but not much, there was still a line to get into Coach, and now there were flashing lights from police cars outside Nike, as something had apparently gone horribly wrong at their sale.
Was the entire scenario ridiculous? Yes. Do I regret going? Absolutely not. Do I now realize that I have no right to make fun of anybody ever again? Well…
You betcha!