This past Friday, on my way home from work, I decided to check out a nearby department store to see if they had any stock left for a couple of items I use, which I had seen in their most recent Black Friday flyer at really attractive prices.
I also wanted to look for a few items on my Christmas gift list, which I cannot divulge at the moment as this is classified information between me and the North Pole.
On my arrival, a man bumped into me, trying to exit through the “in” door with a panic-stricken look on his face, as he ushered his son ahead of him. I could have sworn he mouthed the words “don’t do it”, but I thought to myself that I must have imagined it. But being the polite Canadians we are, we both excused ourselves, even though I clearly had the right of way.
Ten feet into the store, I understood the gentleman’s escape route.
I had never seen the store this busy before. Some people were clustered together, blocking the aisles, as they scrutinized their flyer while pointing to empty shelves, to the ire of others trying to whizz by with full shopping carts on their way to the checkout line. I could hear babies crying, young children whining and adults barking at each other. When combined with the aromatic combination of seasonal scented candles, ladies’ perfumes and snow tires, I was heading into sensory overload.
Because I had been in a pretty cool, zen place lately, I decided to give the store a try anyway in the hope of finding a few good deals.
Sadly, it didn’t quite work out. After checking out a few empty shelves where my items would have been on display, I decided it was time to abort the mission and continue on with my errands, in other stores that didn’t have the words “Black Friday” creating visual clutter along every step of the journey.
Unfortunately, that decision came to me while I was in the corner of the store at the complete opposite of the exit door. I now had to plan my own escape route much like the “don’t do it” man.
Given the maze of stalled shopping carts, products stacked up in the middle of the aisles, and shoppers walking around in a daze like zombies, it felt like a giant game of Pac-man as I was trying to get through the store without getting run over by another shopper equally eager to get out.
At this point, I was no longer paying attention to the store stock, I was paying more attention to the shoppers.
When I get a good deal or I find something for which I’ve been looking for a while, I am usually elated, smiling, beaming, radiating joy, mentally high-fiving everyone on the way to the check out. In that moment, I feel a huge sense of gratitude and reward for being a smart shopper and being in the right place at the right time. And if I’m having a particularly extroverted day, I may even smile and say “Gid’day” to every stranger on my way back to the car, in true Canadian fashion.
But I didn’t see any of that on the faces of my fellow shoppers. Ironically, all I saw was fatigue, frustration, impatience and hunger (…it was late afternoon). You could cut the negative energy with a knife.
By the time that I had made it to the actual exit door, I was pleased that my zen Teflon coating was intact and that I was still in good spirits, though two or three years ago, the overall mood of the store would have been contagious to me.
Just the same, I was worried for my fellow shoppers.
I can appreciate that Black Friday is a great opportunity to save money, but where is the fun in the shopping experience and the romance of “the most…. won-der-ful tiiiiiiime… of the year” if everyone is walking around grunting and sniping at each other?
On my way back to the car, all I could think was how the shoppers needed to take a break and to keep things in perspective. This is holiday shopping, not Thunderdome.
If someone didn’t find something during this sale, there will probably be another sale in the coming month. Given the volume of sales flyers that land on my doorstep and my mailbox with seemingly increasing frequency, I think it’s a pretty safe bet.
For any number of reasons, some people are in a sour mood right now. I get that. But when we’re all out there just trying to save a little money and try to please our loved ones with gifts they will appreciate, can we just focus on the fact that we all share that common purpose in mind? It doesn’t need to be an adversarial undertaking.
If we all just take a breath, relax and not let our fuses get so short, holiday shopping can be a more pleasant experience for everyone.
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Have a great day,