Saturday, November 29, 2014

Black Friday

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.


Raybeard said...

Now manifesting itself for the first time in this country - and in a BIG way - we've succumbed, and well and truly caught the BF bug ourselves now. Ugly scenes all over our news programmes yesterday. So 'good' to see that the Xmas spirit flourishes! (Saints preserve us!)

Ron said...

Did you know the Black Friday video was shot in London? Really? What happened to British decorum? I have to admit though it was fun to watch.

Jay M. said...

I NEVER shop on Black Friday. (Well, yesterday I did go to the liquor store, it was ridiculously crowded even though there were no Black Friday sales.). As for Christmas presents, one for the boy showed up, the other is delayed but will be delivered in time for Christmas, and that's it. Two websites, three or four clicks, and done. The family stopped exchanging gifts years ago as the families got to be too big. To me, it was interesting that I would buy for individual nieces and nephews, and get "from us" back. So we stopped it all. I am very happy.

Peace <3

nitewrit said...


I worked in retail from 2003 to 2011 and so had to work several Black Fridays. It wasn't too bad for me, because I didn't have to deal with the customers. I was very busy and busy was fine with me. The worse part of Black friday, and most of the Christmas shopping season really, was parking. When I worked at Christiana Mall we had to park out on the fringes, actually across from the main parking lot. They ran a shuttle bus, although I always walked.

Years ago we use to go out on Black friday just for the experience. Never did any shopping, just mingled in the crowds. Don't have any desire for that madness anymore. Like you, we stayed home, except we went out to dinner. No crowd at the restaurant, I guess most people were to busy shopping to eat.


Ur-spo said...

I think you should not hold back Ron and tell us what you truly feel about Black Friday.

Ron said...

Interesting response from your nieces and nephews. At least you got a gift. I never did, not that I was looking for one or needed anything but a gesture would have been nice. The year I decided not to give gifts I thought it would be uncomfortable but nothing. Not even a ripple. All those years, wasted. Oh well. I felt good at the time buying the gifts, doing the "Christmas" thing. Another curious thing, I never have liked receiving gifts. To me friendship is all that mattered, not things.

Ron said...

That one Black Friday back in the Seventies was the last time I stuck my big toe in that water. Never again. I stay in the house. I don't even go to the supermarket. Nada.

pat888 said...

Ron - we usually catch on to whatever is happening big in the States. Black Friday has been with us for a while. In fact some are extending it. Ads say - it's no longer Boxing day ( which turned into a week and more in some cases) the time to shop - but Black Friday. Driving thru downtown today I saw one very long lineup of people chomping at the bit trying to get into what looked like a clothing store. Thankfully - my Christmas shopping days are over. But I truly have super great memories of buying gifts for family and friends at a time long ago. And I truly did enjoy finding and buying the gifts more than receiving.


Raybeard said...

Not too surprised, Ron. Bad manners is becoming a worldwide epidemic. I've noticed for some time that orderly queues, so typically British in my day, are becoming a rarer sight now in favour of everyone for him/herself. It's all ME ME ME!!!

Postcard Cindy said...

I don't think I have ever shopped on Black Friday, and for sure now never will. I only buy gifts for my immediate family and as usual this year I was done well before Thanksgiving. Yesterday I shopped online for myself at Amazon twice! I needed new flannel sheets and once that order was complete I remembered I really need an emergency radio. After the earthquake in September I am doing much better about keeping up with my emergency supplies, but didn't have a radio. Pretty nifty you can even charge your devices with it, best of all half off and free shipping. It is a good time for good prices, but I will be staying away from the crazies!

Cindy from Sonoma

Ron said...

I have fond memories of Christmas shopping when I was younger. I especially like the wrapping part, perhaps more than the actual giving part. Funny thing though, I was never big on receiving presents. I don't know why, but those times when I did receive a present (which wasn't that often), it almost always caught me off guard. Rarely was the present anything I wanted or needed but I do have a few that I've kept over the years that, when I look at them (a clock from my former sister-in-law), it makes me feel good.

Ron said...

Dr. Spo,
Never in a million years would you catch me shopping on Black Friday. NEVER.

Ron said...

Nothing is worth that chaos in shopping. NOTHING.

Amanda said...

The video of a London store you posted made me laugh but I also find it very sad. For people who are on a budget, there are probably great sales around. But now a days, who needs to go out when you can buy anything on line?