I’m not a huge fan of shopping. I like stuff and getting stuff and such, so I do shop, but shopping is not my idea of a good time. I’d rather read a book, go out to eat, hang with friends, watch a movie, go dancing, or stare blankly at a television screen – almost anything else. Furthermore, for the most part, I have just about everything I need. However, my desktop computer died a few months ago and I recently bought a new one, [and this was because my laptop started doing weird things like booting to the blue screen of death.] My old monitor worked perfectly fine with it, it’s a little small, but it works.
Then I got a new monitor at work. A 23″ gem that has really been awesome: now when I have code that runs across the screen I don’t have to scroll, I can compare 2 Word documents at 100%, I can see the cool designs people put on their Twitter profile pages. However, when I work remotely, the 1920 x 1080 resolution of the 23″ screen does not translate well to the 1024 x 768 resolution of my old monitor’s screen. When signed onto my work computer, I would either need to squint or scroll the screen, neither option being particularly optimal. So I decided I needed a 23″ monitor for home too. Since it was so close to Thanksgiving, and a 23″ monitor could run between $200-$300, I thought I’d give Black Friday a try.
My Black Friday aspirations to date have been modest. In the 1990’s I remember going to Wal-Mart with my Mom so I could get a portable CD player. It was selling for $20 or something, and I really wanted one. The funny thing, most everyone was waiting in line for a Furby, I probably could’ve sailed into the store a few hours later to get my CD player. Three or four years ago my parents, my in-laws and I went over to the Maine Mall to see what the midnight festivities were like. I didn’t want anything, really, we went because it seemed like it’d be fun. It was fun, but not fun enough for a repeat. However, this year my need for a monitor was enough to make me venture out to the Mall again, solo this time.
I didn’t mind waiting in line to get my monitor, but I didn’t want to seem too desperate. When I saw the line to Best Buy (one of the stores offering 23″ monitors in my price point) was around the corner, clear to the Sears store, I turned around and went home.
Plan B was Staples. [Well, Staples was the original Plan A, I figured the Mall area would be too much, yet Best Buy had advertised a monitor that was $10 cheaper than the one I saw for Staples. I was right.] I was going to choose between a $129.98 HP or a $139.99 Samsung monitor I found on the TGI Black Friday App. I didn’t look at a flyer.
I woke at 4:45, dressed, got in my car, purchased some Dunkin’ Donuts coffee for fuel, and drove to Staples, arriving there at 5:10. There were 3 people in line. Much more my speed. I waited in my car until I couldn’t stand it anymore, it was around 5:25 and there were around 20 people in line. Fortunately for all of us, Staples employees started walking through the line.
Here is where I explain that I don’t have any idea how Black Friday works. Apparently there are Door Busters and such, this is how they get people (like me) to arrive at their store at the ungodly (ungoddessly?) hour of 6:00 am. How Staples handled these was to have pre-printed “tickets” for the items they’d consider to be movers. When they got to me, I told them that I was in line for the 23″ monitor, and the Staples woman said “you’re here for the Acer monitor, that’s one of the door busters” and handed me a yellow (golden) ticket. She told me I had until noon to pick it up. Since I had no idea how much the Acer monitor cost, I asked them to check for me, it was going to be $99! Sweet. My new work monitor was an Acer too, so that worked for me. It was around 5:35 am. I didn’t want to go home and come back later, so I went back to my car and waited in comfort and warmth for Staples to open. But people kept arriving, and by 6:00 am, the line from Staples reached all the way to the Burlington Coat Factory. I waited until the line at the door went away, went into the store, and waited in the checkout line for about 20 minutes, handed the cashier my golden ticket and walked away with my new 23″ monitor for 99 bucks.
Black Friday is consumerism at its best AND worst. My pal Shay at BlackGirlinMaine.com says that
…folks seem to lose their collective minds all in the name of a bargain.
and they do. Those who are crazy enough to wait in line, whether it’s by getting up at 4 or 5 o’clock on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving or by queuing up a couple of hours before midnight on Thanksgiving itself, are proving themselves “worthy” of getting a great deal, they’ve earned it. The atmosphere at Best Buy last night was fun. People were waiting in line with their friends because it was a little bit crazy, and maybe they really wanted that HDTV, but they were having fun too. I suppose if I had a bit more energy and was not as stressed out with school and work, I wouldn’t mind waiting in line, as long as I had some friends with me. Nowadays I am all about expending the least amount of effort I can. But as Shay says in her blog post, it isn’t always fun and games. Sometimes people get hurt.
I am conflicted about Black Friday. I think people get a bit wigged out by it and others behave badly, but on the other hand it is sure nice to get a bargain. I have friends who are totally against Black Friday and its commercialism, and I hear them. I even agree to a certain extent. I encourage them to continue to speak out about it, but with a request that they not judge us who choose to participate in the madness too harshly. We’re only humans who are distracted by the shiny.