The real Friday to fear

Rachel Hagenbaugh

Black Friday was never a tradition for me. The idea of driving all over, fighting off avid buyers and waiting in line for hours to save a few dollars was never a priority.

Two years ago, I dared to go out for the first time and remembered why I never venture out of the house on this dreaded day. After one of the most stressful nights of my life, one would think I’d never go out on Black Friday again, but some of the deals this year were too juicy to pass up.

My very first Black Friday shopping experience began at 11 on Thanksgiving night. My mother sent me out to buy my own Christmas present, an Xbox 360 with “Guitar Hero 3” and a controller for a total of $199.

The trouble began at 4 a.m., an hour before the gaming system was available. The husband of the woman behind me was waiting for a flat screen television, which was being given out in the layaway section. One of his friends came to the electronics line to notify us that he heard the Xbox 360s were being given out in layaway along with the flat screen televisions. By this time, the line was out the front door. The 10 of us who were placed in electronics went over to layaway.

First, we were told by the associate behind the counter that there was nothing she could do. Upon hearing this, I was furious. It was 4 a.m., I was one of the first people here and this was not my mistake.

With a little bit of persistence and aggressiveness, I finally got my Xbox 360 at 5 a.m., but I was not free from the Black Friday massacre yet. I grabbed my box and turned around, in shock of the cattle herd of people that was in front of me. I slowly began maneuvering my way around people, trying to get to the front of the store.

About halfway through the store, a man in line asked me if that was an Xbox 360 in my hands. All of a sudden, he lunged at me and screamed, “Let me have it!” Because the store was so packed with people, I had nowhere to run. I whipped the box around and knocked over a couple of women standing next to me. He then shouts, “Oh no! I was just kidding! Please stop!” I did not find it funny, rushed out of the store and went directly home.

Last year, I did not take part in the festivities because I was still having nightmares about the previous year. This year, I decided to make another brave attempt to get my own Christmas present, a Paula Deen cooking set.

?This was the first year that Walmart would sell certain items at midnight, instead of waiting to release everything at 5 a.m. amid mass chaos. This made the Black Friday experience much easier to bear. By 11 p.m. I already had the Paula Deen cooking set in my cart and was waiting for the $1.98 DVDs. Tempers began to flare when people began ripping down the plastic tape and grabbing movies before midnight. However, the morally sane people stood with their clear consciences and waited until midnight. I feared that I was going to get trampled by people behind me trying to get DVDs. However, once the DVDs were released, people moved quickly, but there was no violent pushing or shoving. I was able to grab the movies I wanted and quickly proceed to the checkout lines, which had waits less than an hour long.

After leaving Walmart, I went home, dropped off my purchases and headed to Kohl’s, which opened at 3 a.m. People waiting to get in the store were wrapped around the building. Once the store opened, everyone quickly walked in, but once again, there was no aggression or pushing. I was at the back of the line and got inside the store in a few short minutes.

Kohl’s was an equally pleasant experience. After grabbing the few items I came for, I got in line and waited about an hour to check out.

Then it was back to Walmart for an HDMI cable that was going to be released at 5 a.m. This time, flat screen televisions, digital cameras, iPods and many other major electronics were being released. I expected Walmart to be packed this time, but it wasn’t. Distinct lines were formed for certain items, and the associates were handling everything smoothly. At 5 a.m. I grabbed the HDMI cable, got in line and was home by 5:30 a.m. Walmart associates said that a lot of the previous year’s 5 a.m. traffic was deterred by many items being available at midnight. By the time 5 a.m. came, everyone who wanted the midnight specials were already gone.

Surprisingly, I was very happy about my Black Friday experience this year. There were cops and SWAT teams at every location, making sure everyone was behaving appropriately. People were under control for the most part, except for the people who were not patient enough to wait until midnight for the DVD releases. There was one incident I heard about from an employee of Walmart; she said a man punched a woman in the face over a Hot Wheels racing set.

Contact Rachel Hagenbaugh at [email protected].