But the weekend is coming up! It's a short work week, which is always nice, unless you have to roll out new software that requires a framework to be installed on the machines you are working on (.NET). Thank you Microsoft. But what am I doing this weekend?
My Black Friday Ritual, of course.
Friday is, as I have called it since 1987, Black Friday. Why is it Black Friday? Because I worked retail until 1996, and I will always look at the Friday after Thanksgiving as a Day of Chaos. The Friday after Thanksgiving, as most people in the US know, is the first official day of the Christmas Season. Which means it's usually one of the top three shopping days of the season. The other two are the day before Christmas Eve, and sometimes the Saturday before Christmas.
It's pretty amazing, Black Friday. From both sides of the counter. When I worked retail, and never saw direct results of customer flow and my paycheck, it was a day to fear. My first memories of Black Friday stem from when I was a bookseller. Most customers who go into book stores are a fairly educated, polite, and civilized bunch of patrons. But around Christmas, you get flooded with customers who usually wouldn't set foot in a bookstore unless they were fleeing something terrifying, like a barrage of angry killer bees. These people look like your regular customers, except they are rude, impatient, and have no patience for your normal browsing crowd. My first witnessing of violent acts came from such customers. One threatened to beat up my manager after his wife, who had pulled a whole shelf full of books onto the floor in protest and then threw a book at the cashiers, was refused a refund. I saw customers actually steal things from other people's baskets, and when confronted, gave a smarmy grin of victory, and said something like, "Until you actually pay for it, it's not yours ... nyah nyah." Maybe not with the Nyah Nyah, but you get the idea. Just wait until the killer bees, lady.
When I was a manager, and working with store bonuses or commissions, I liked Black Friday better, but the anxiety of "am I going to beat last year's figures ... please?" was always in the back of my head. Plus I had to be extra nice to rude people. I developed a disturbing "the ruder you are, the nicer I'll be" sort of revenge tactic on those people. It was almost a form of passive aggression sometimes, because you could make comments like, "I am sure you are very angry I can't refund your money," or "We are out of those, and while I am not sure when I'll get my next shipment, rest assured I will remember your comments towards the matter."
When I left retail (hopefully for good, but you know how the economy is), I made a pledge to always be in a mall on Black Friday. I need to remember where I came from. I need to see the chaos, and give deep thanks I no longer have to be a part of it. It's become a ritual, with a combination of light shopping, helping out people who seem to be in trouble, spreading good cheer to people behind the counter, and a lot of people watching. I usually just take my son, because my wife is saner than I am and doesn't want to go near a mall near Christmas.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000295.html