Saturday, November 28, 2009 7:01:53 AM
I'm sure many of you have heard - and some even participated in - that peculiarly American madness called "Black Friday". For those who may not be aware ...
We have a big US holiday at the end of November called Thanksgiving. Skipping all the details about what Thanksgiving is, suffice it to say that it is by law celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. No idea why it was set on a Thursday, but ... well, it results in a 4-day weekend for most people in the US - except those of us in retail.
Since so many people have the day after Thanksgiving off, and since it's just about a month before Christmas, a lot of people go Christmas shopping on that day. So much so that it is the busiest shopping day of the entire year. Since so many retailers depend on their sales from that one day to make or break their entire year, it has come to be known as "Black Friday" (as in "in the black", having a positive number in accounting practice - negative numbers were written in red). And since it was such an important day to their business, most retailers have some pretty fantastic deals to try and get you to come to their store before you have spent all your money, leading to an absolute frenzy sometimes ... in fact, last year a mall security person in New York was trampled to death when the Wal-mart at that mall opened on "Black Friday" - so you see what I mean by "madness".
Don't get me wrong, they can have some fantasic deals - but of course they are "while supplies last, no rainchecks" and the bigger items tend to be in limited supply. If you're not there within an hour of when the sale starts, they're all gone. Well, usually.
Anyway, so much for introduction. (And for the record, Wal-mart made several changes to prevent a repeat of last year, but this isn't about that.)
Personally, I can't stand that kind of frenzy - or even that big a crowd - so I'll never be in a store at that time of the morning on Black Friday. It's just not worth it to me. Okay, so I'm not going to get one of those $120 televisions or whatever unless something really strange happens. And as I work second shift, I won't even be in the store working at that time - in fact, I'm sound asleep then.
This year though, my dad actually decided to brave the madness. He was asking if I had any special perks as an employee that could get him one of those $200 laptops they advertised. I told him sorry, I couldn't get one without going through the same line as everyone else. I know him well enough to know he was talking about the laptop before he even said so - of course I'd seen them when they arrived off the truck nearly a week ago, that was really the only item he would be talking about. I told him we had at least 10 of them (I hadn't really counted), but if he wanted one he'd have to be there when the sale started at 5 AM just like everyone else.
He was still talking about it the next couple of days, making plans and all that, but apparently at he last minute he changed his mind. Another store in town had some sort of $130 netbook for their Black Friday sale, he thought he'd try that instead. But when he got there he found out some kids had been camping out - in a tent - the previous day, and he was number 20 in line ... when the door opened several hours later even though he was number 20 he was too late - they had only had 5. Needless to say, when I spoke to him he was rather bitter about the whole thing.
(For that matter, we have two Wal-marts in town and only one of that other store, presuming the other Wal-mart would have had as many as we did his odds were much better on the $200 laptop. Still awful small I'll be the first to admit, but anyone could figure out that's at least 4 times better odds. But ... well, he wouldn't want to hear that, so I didn't say it.)
But every once in a while, just by being in the right place at the right time, I manage to defy logic, probability or even common sense. And so it is that when he gets up tomorrow (well, technically today) he's going to find one of the $200 laptops on the table.
Let me tell you how that worked out. By some fluke, we were still getting some of the Black Friday merchandise in today. Hundreds of tee shirts that were too late for the sale and bunches of other stuff - and one $200 laptop that somehow arrived over a week later than its counterparts. No, I didn't do anything unethical like hide it away or whatever, but I did remember it. When I got off work, I sought out the electronics guy (there's only one person in the department on third shift) and asked him about it. He was somewhat incredulous at its late arrival (understandably), but he said "The sale price is good until midnight. If it's back there, it's yours."
Jerry was the guy at the door who checks receipts for expensive merchandise, when he saw me walking out with the bag I told him the story (and of course showed him the receipt) and he was impressed. I'd say that goes somewhat beyond being lucky though. And I guess I do have one or two perks after all ...