Well, did you all get your shopping fix in yesterday, Black Friday? I didn't step out of this house . . . once. Not even to take the garbage out . . . . NOT ONCE.
I remember the first time I was caught up in the Black Friday madness. It was back in the early Seventies when I worked at Girard Bank in center city Philadelphia. I was only a block away from the John Wanamaker department store.
|John Wanamaker Department Store (now Macy's) - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
I often made lunchtime excursions to Wanamakers just to look around or buy a new shirt of tie if they were on sale. On this particular Friday after Thanksgiving, I thought I would get a head jump on my Christmas shopping. Back in The Day, I used to Christmas shop for all members of my family. Something which I stopped doing years ago when I wised up but I digress.
So there I was, flush with my bank profit sharing bonus (distributed two weeks earlier, another business tradition you'll never see again, profit sharing for employees), anxious to spend and make Mom, Pop, brothers and sisters-in-laws and especially my nieces and nephew burst in joy when they open their Christmas presents from Uncle Ronnie.
I finished my lunch at the bank cafeteria (yet another quaint custom which you won't find at businesses these days, a business subsidized lunchroom) and sauntered over to "Wannies". I immediately noticed the crowded, frenzied aisles of the usually sedate department store. "What is going on?" I thought. "Some kind of sale?"
|Ain't no sale worth diving into this crowd|
Now when I mention crowded I mean crowded like a gay bar on New Year's Eve . . THAT crowded. Elbow to elbow or more graphic . . . butt cheek to butt cheek.
I work my way through the crowd like a fish swimming upstream. I couldn't even get near any of the counters! It didn't take me too long to realize that this wasn't going to be one of my browsing shopping days what with the mass shopping hysteria that I was witnessing in my formerly staid department store. I decided to GET OUT.
Which way? Looking behind me all I saw was a mass of people. Looking ahead, same thing . . a sea of heads bobbing this way and that way.
I had entered through the Chestnut Street side of Wanamakers. I decided to make my getaway straight through the store and exit through the Juniper Street exit and GO BACK TO WORK. Easier said than done.
It took me about fifteen minutes to work my way to the Juniper Street exit. When I finally got to the door I felt like I popped out. PHEW! GET.ME.OUT.OF.THIS.STORE.
I arrived back to my desk at the back a good fifteen minutes late. I wailed to anyone who would listen "What was THAT over at Wannies?" Almost in unison several of my female co-workers shouted "It's Black Friday!"
Now believe it or not, I had never heard of Black Friday. I heard of Good Friday but Black Friday? My friend Alice patiently explained to me . . . . "Ron, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving. The biggest shopping day of the year. The day when many items are drastically marked down. Didn't you know?" Well . . . um . . no. My Fridays back then were more about relief that I had a few days off and I would be hitting the gay bars that evening (keep in mind I was young and callow and very pretty . . back in The Day).
Folks, I learned something that day. Not to shop on Black Friday and I never have since. Of course now it's a moot point because I don't do any Christmas shopping. Bill doesn't want any presents (he has everything, he has me). My Mother, whose birthday was on December 24th, was the main reason I shopped but since she died four years ago I have no desire to shop for Christmas presents. I gave up on my nieces and nephews years ago when they got older. Giving teenagers Christmas presents just wasn't the same as giving little kids Christmas presents.
|My nephew and nieces - Christmas 1975|
So these days it is with some bemusement when I see television displays of frenzied and harried shoppers climbing all over each other to get the latest fad (I hear this year it is anything to do with the Disney movie "Frozen" . . whatever). On Black Fridays this old geezer stays home . . . . where he belongs. And God bless anyone who has to work in retail.