Wigs, werewolves and Wal-Mart – the holiday season is here

Sean Campbell

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You know that the holiday season is becoming a little too competitive when you’re standing outside Wal-Mart amongst thousands of people and it’s 4:45 a.m. It’s 30 degrees, and the wind cuts. If it wasn’t so dark, you could probably see the mist coming off your breath.

Less than ten hours ago you were gorging on Thanksgiving turkey and the tryptophan is making your mind dumpy. But you fight the temptation to shut your eyes. There’s fifteen $400 laptops in the Wal-Mart you’re standing outside of and one of them has your name on it. It’s Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and the official kick off to the holiday season, and you’ve come to play.

The retailers are playing the game too. There’s a lot of money to be made and the big-box companies don’t want to share. They compete with each other, opening their stores earlier every year on Black Friday and giving out lower and lower prices. Some stores are opening this year at 12:01 a.m.

The stores create a competitive atmosphere, offering dirt-cheap items for the first few hours of the event. This is called a “doorbuster sale,” and it brings out the carnal side in people. Last year, millions of people waited for Wal-Mart doors to open nation wide on Black Friday. At these sales, no one wears Noel hats or hands out hot cocoa. Leave your grandma at home, it’s every person for him or herself.

Last year, ambulances were needed as a lady got trampled in the annual Wal-Mart Black-Friday doorbuster. Her wig got thrown off and, as she fought to get it back, hundreds of people stepped over her. At a Wal-Mart in Florida, a brawl broke out.

Humans are by nature competitive and the holiday season brings out new sides in many. Retail stores announce their sales and people lose control. It’s as if there’s a full moon turning shoppers to the dark side. They turn into beasts, hungry for bargains.

Black Friday is just the beginning. As the month of December rolls on, the stores become more and more dangerous.

I suggest staying away from the clearance sections, that’s where elbows get thrown. One time I saw an elderly women use her cart as a weapon as she gouged her way to cheap clip-on book lights. I saw another person use her cart as a bulldozer.

I think that it’s the Christmas music they play in the stores. “The Little Drummer Boy” causes a chemical release in the shopper and the longer he or she is exposed, the more irreparable damage is caused. People develop deep scowls, start walking faster, and forget their basic manners.

I don’t think that most people know what they’re buying, they just know that they are getting it for cheaper than anyone else. It’s the thrill of the hunt, and when things are cheap, it’s grab now and think later.

People start with an idea of what they want and end with a collection of impulse buys, and when the dust settles, and there’s New-Year’s-Eve confetti still floating in the air, and people are beginning their holiday recovery, they’ll have long receipts to look back at. They’ll realize that they let the competitive spirit get the best of them as they review all the things they bought-crystal serving dishes, George Forman Grills, singing fish, Homer Simpson bottle openers, boxes of cactus themed champagne flutes.

But the shopping hangover always wears off, and next year millions of people will find themselves strategizing as they stand in line at 4 a.m., waiting for the race to begin again.

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