I had always thought of Black Friday as the busiest shopping day of the year. In fact, the busiest shopping day is now reserved for the Saturday before or the day before Christmas, depending on when Christmas falls on the calendar. However, on this day, it means something entirely different. It can lead to death in extreme circumstances. And how ironic is this? This day after we are to be so thankful for everything we have (on Thanksgiving Day), we turn into shopping fiends. From thankful, to ungrateful…in less than 24 hours. What a turn of events.
The stampede for sales and the best bargains takes a human toll, quite literally. When alarms are set for 3 AM and the mad dash through department stores begins before dawn, then it is like, “every man for himself“. Everyone who tries to grab the first bargains of this day are doing so at their own risk, in fact sometimes risking their own lives. A supreme example took place a couple of years ago on a Black Friday at a Toys-”R” Us store in Palm Desert, California, where two men shot each other to death over a bloody fight with the two women that accompanied them. When both couples were checking out, the two women started fist fighting and after one woman’s nose was bloodied, the men with them exchanged gun shots, killing each other, according to Palm Desert Councilman Jim Ferguson. Sadly, both women had children with them.
Elsewhere, a man was literally trampled to death during the opening of a Wal-Mart’s Black Friday sales event. In 2008. Nassau County Police continue to examine the front of the Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., after a worker died when deluge of rampaging shoppers crashed through the doors and trampled him to death. In fact, when Wal-Mart employees tried to help the man, they too were nearly crushed by the onslaught. Video shows most of the crowd simply stepping over or even on the man, without a second thought.
At this same store, there were at least four other people, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, taken to hospitals for observation or minor injuries. This forced the store in Valley Stream on Long Island, New York, to close for several hours before reopening.
According to Suffolk County police, a woman was trampled under foot on Friday by Wal-Mart customers in Farmingdale, New York, which is about 15 miles east of Valley Stream. Fortunately she only suffered minor injuries. But it could have been worse and for some it was.
I have heard of road rage, roid (steroids-caused) rage, and now we have to add Shoppers Rage. “I was here first“, no you weren’t, give me that“….(punch). This example was found to have occurred multiple times across the nation. I find it ironic that this happens after a day in which many Americans give thanks for the many things they have been endowed with.
Just ask any store worker about Black Friday, and generally they will tell you that it’s the day of the year that they dread the most. A couple of years ago, Erica Isaac was standing in a long line at the Gap in New York, when she noticed some body lotions that were positioned close to the line, intended to tempt customers while they wait. As she leaned out to try a sample, she accidentally bumped into a woman next to her. Even though it was an accident, the lady didn’t take it that way, in fact she screamed, “You [expletive] not touch me!” The 27-year-old New Yorker exclaimed that “Everyone was looking down at the floor, pretending not to notice. I was mortified.”
Shopping rage is nothing new, but it is getting worse. And just like road rage, it can lead to grave consequences. One sales agent, an associate with Century 21, says “When the lines are long, it's crazy. Fights break out between customers,” And if someone even appears to try to cut into line, “They'll say 'Excuse me, where do you think you are going?’ ”. A sales associate at Macy, Maritza Melendez, mentions that the very same thing happens at Macy's every year on Black Friday. She says it is particularly dangerous “…when there are lines are long, and when people try to cut in front of others, even if it’s just to take a quick glance at a price”. She says, “Sometimes they openly curse at each other (children being present makes no difference)”.
Even in a well behaved line, one person will accuse another person behind them of getting too close or breathing down her neck, or the person in front of them is not moving up fast enough. These fights happen in the parking lots, in the stores, in the bathrooms…and can take place nearly anywhere. One woman said that “We were at Loehmann's (another New York-based discount department store). My mother was looking at a rack of clothing, and so was another woman. When my mother went to take a dress by the hanger, the woman said angrily 'Excuse me, I'm looking at this, I'm going to buy it.' She grabbed the bottom while my mom still had the top, and the dress ripped.” And a fight ensued.
I start shopping early for Christmas, even before Thanksgiving. I avoid the crowds that way and have a much more enjoyable experience.
What can you do to avoid becoming a shopping rage victim? Shop on-line, or shop the following week. If you try to be one of those who start lining up for sales in the early hours of Black Friday, try to position yourself at the sides these long lines of shoppers, so that when the doors open, and by chance you fall, you won’t be trampled under foot. When the doors open on Black Friday is more like the Running of the Bulls. But in this case, it can be more deadly. It’s just not worth risking your life or fighting over sales items. So be careful out there this Black Friday and have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone.