I went shopping on Black Friday, actually Thanksgiving eve. For the past two years, my 14-year-old has gone with me. This year, his girlfriend accompanied us. The more the merrier, I always say.
“You’re going to see things you’ve never seen before,” I warned his girlfriend. “It’s like an entirely new breed of human comes out on only this one night. Just keep your head down, move fast and you’ll be fine,” I said.
And I seriously meant it, especially at Walmart. It’s like these people are kept in a dark room for 364 days a year with no access to social situations, pleasure or freedom. Then their capture lets them loose on just this one day, with $500 to spend. And perhaps it’s survival of the fittest but then these are the only people that seem to have shopping carts and have no idea how to use them. It’s not uncommon to find these knuckle draggers with their carts in the middle of the toy aisle with their basket taking up 50% of the egress while their body takes up the other half.
Because I was either intoxicated or stupid, we rolled into the armpit of the retail industry around 7 PM. The entire parking lot was filled, having cars overflowing to the parking lots of the attached shopping. I chose a parking space in the overflow in an effort to keep my mental state in check. Walmart’s parking lot even gives me anxiety.
“God give me the strength. God give me the strength,” I kept repeating to myself both verbally and silently. I do this along with exaggerated inhales and exhales, preparing myself for the cluster-fuck that is Walmart.
When we got inside there were obviously no carts available. A buzzed cut police officer stood at the entrance along with a Walmart employee that was a nurse in the Civil War. I assumed she was there to check receipts while he was there to lay down the law, but whatever.
“C’mon,” I yelled back at my sidekicks. Head down, I picked up the pace to get us to the electronics at the back of the store. We briskly weaved in and out of meandering shoppers who didn’t understand that in the main walkway, you don’t stop your stupid shopping cart to discuss the merits of a Dirt Devil over a Dyson.
The electronics area was a complete shit show. Baskets overflowed with 65″ televisions, Roombas and toys. I needed to buy an Apple watch for my son, only to find it to be sold out. After 10 minutes, I was done. My friend Nikki was on her way to meet me and I wanted to spare her this disaster. I sent her the text to the left.
Unlike Walmart, Target didn’t have the qualities of The Purge. The aisles were wide enough you could actually get through. Starbucks was open in case you wanted to enjoy a hot beverage while shopping. Display tables still resembled an orderly layout and didn’t have heaps of clothing that had been unfolded and tossed back on to the table. I was able to find my youngest son’s yellow, Nintendo Switch. I also bought his Xbox game that he wanted that I would later discover was actually for the PS4.
The Outlet Mall and Instant Regret
Against my better judgment, I offered to drive Ms. Daisey and his girlfriend to the outlet malls, 40 minutes away. By now it was about 9:30 p.m. Collectively we agreed that an hour shopping up there would be good. When we got there, I instantly regretted my decision to go. First of all, you couldn’t find a parking place. People were parking in the grass and even the mulched areas that were clearly not for parking. After playing chicken with another car, I finally found a parking place. It was such a feat, we were high-fiving each other and I fist pumped the sky as I jumped out of the car.
My feelings of accomplishment were quickly overshadowed with disappointment as we walked into the complex as there were lines to go into all the good stores. Kate Spade, Nike, Northface, all of them had lines, some stretching the length of the store three times. I would not be standing in these lines as I was cold and tired. I text my son that I was heading back to the car and would nap while they shopped. This is when he informed me he found “awesome” gifts for himself at Tommy Hilfiger and would like for me to join them…on the other side of the complex. I looked up with dread, looked back down at my phone then over to Auntie Anne’s pretzels. Obviously I was going to need a pretzel to make the long treck to Tommy Hilfiger.
I’m Done Shopping
After giving my son $60 and told him he’d be standing in line if he wanted the sweatshirt and t-shirt, I was done and walked back to the car. Sometime past when my son text me to declare they weren’t tired and wanted to shop longer. Caitlyn Jenner would turn back into Bruce Jenner before we stayed longer. It was 11 PM and technically, it wasn’t even black Friday. This is when Ms. Daisy decided to declare me unfair and that I lied because I said we could stay out very late. Friends, it took everything in me not to do that spastic mom thing where you inject your right arm into the back seat and start swinging, hoping you hit the appropriate kid. Because his girlfriend was in the car, I opted to respond to him via gritted teeth and high-pitched (I’m going to lose my shit if you don’t shut the hell up voice), clipped answers, hoping he would get the hint.
At 2 A.M, I finally turned in for the night. At 7:15 the next morning, I was back out there, doing it all over again. I can say with confidence I can afford maybe 2 snacks in the vending machine now, as long as one of those snacks are a pack of gum.