Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bah, Humbug.

People wonder why I can't seem to get excited about the holidays anymore.

I've been called "Scrooge". "Grinch". And probably much worse. I spend most of Q4 every year trying to keep my head down and get through the end of the year. Co-workers brave enough to deposit greeting cards and holiday treats at my desk know enough to do it when I'm not looking. Festive holiday Muzak is like nails on the chalkboard to me. On the occasions when I am forced to venture into a store, the garish ocular assault that confronts me is about as appealing as a stun grenade. And every time another puke-voiced television announcer regurgitates the line "Makes a great gift!" I understand why Elvis shot his TV.

I detest shopping malls any time of year, but between mid-November and mid-January I think I'd prefer dysentery.

And "getting malled" has begun taking on a very literal meaning now. Why anyone would think I'd voluntarily participate in something called "Black Friday" is a mystery to me. If it sounds more like the name of a terrorist plot than a day of "sport shopping", there's a reason. Unless you've been ignoring the news recently, you've heard about the recent terror attacks in Mumbai, India. Well as bad as this latest violence is, the 1993 serial bombings in Mumbai claimed more lives and resulted in more widespread destruction. The 2007 Hindi film chronicling the March 12, 1993 bombings was called -- you guessed it -- Black Friday.

But if I needed a(nother) reason (I didn't) to take a pass on the mayhem that is the Morning After Thanksgiving, shoppers in Long Island have just handed me all the justification I need. In what has to be the most callous example of cold-blooded consumerism ever, the crowd at a Wal-Mart in Long Island trampled a store employee to death and injured several other staffers and shoppers in a stampede to get to the 50" plasma HDTV's and Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum Cleaners. These people give a whole new -- and chillingly literal -- meaning to the phrase "killer prices". I hope it was worth it.

Worse yet, when store management and police attempted to close the store to investigate and recover the wounded, the shoppers refused to vacate the premises because they'd "been in line since yesterday morning!". To that all I have to say is, "And whose fucking fault is that?". There's a part of me that would love to see the NYPD (or whatever law enforcement agency serves Nassau County) track down each and every one of those people and charge them with at least obstructing a police investigation and even felonious assault -- or accessory to manslaughter. It won't happen, because only the people who paid with a credit/debit card could actually be traced, and frankly I doubt the Nassau County jail has that much space in it anyway. But a part of me would still love to see it happen.

What's more likely is that Wal-Mart will make a settlement with the family of the man that was killed, and with those who were injured and nothing will change. The mob scene will continue, and after today or tomorrow the name Jdimytai Damour -- who lost his life under the hooves of this mob -- will slip quietly into history, remembered only by those who knew him well.

What passes for Christmas in this country today doesn't even deserve to be capitalized.
Stumble Upon Toolbar


Michael said...

Amazing, check this out:

smarmoofus said...

What has a few well-meaning co-workers depositing iced cookies and treats on your desk to do with Black Friday shopping? For that matter, what has Mumbai to do with Black Friday shopping? So the movie about the 1993 bombing is called "Black Friday"... the day after Thanksgiving has been called that since long before the attack, and certainly before the 2007 movie.

I am trying not to let it bother me, but I feel personally attacked by your comment to my post, followed up by this post. I don't know what you meant to imply, but I infer a hint of blame, as if I am somehow responsible for the terrible tragedies in Mumbai and Long Island, New York, because I went shopping yesterday morning to help my cousin-in-law buy gifts for his family that they otherwise could not afford (mind you, those gifts include a coat for their second son, a pair of shoes for their little girl, a couple of DVDs, and a Fisher Price piano for their baby boy), followed up by a trip to a home improvement store so I could buy myself a power tool. There were no mob scenes, no pushing and shoving, no violence.

There are clearly greedy and aggressive people in the world. We have all seen evidence of that. But in the three years that I have gone out for Black Friday, I have experienced cooperation, camaraderie, and general kindness/courtesy. If a situation appeared dangerous, I would not be a part of it willingly.* In all of my experiences, the lines have been orderly and patient. There is an etiquette protocol that true Black Friday shoppers follow. I don't know what went wrong in New York, but something did. That case is not typical.

* As for unwillingly/unwittingly being part of a mob, I know from personal experience that not all 200 of those people in that crowd meant to go forward with the mob, but would gladly have escaped if they could have. When I was 16 (and even smaller than I am today), I was caught up in a mass exodus from a just-ended festival in Germany, where I was literally pinned between the people around me and carried along... my feet were not on the ground, and I was pulled away from my family. If I'd been dropped at that point, I would have been crushed by the mob pushing from behind. My sister and I held hands and that's the only way she and I stayed together. We lost our parents, who were busy trying to keep hold of my then-seven- and five-year-old siblings. I am certain that there were people in that Walmart crowd who were equally fearful for their own lives and probably too busy trying to survive to be aware that there were any victims.

Anyway. You can hate Christmas all you want, but don't lump us all together. And try to go easy on your co-workers. They mean well, even if you refuse to see the goodness in them.

kenju said...

"...I detest shopping malls any time of year, but between mid-November and mid-January I think I'd prefer dysentery."


me said...

My grandfather left my dad, his mom and sister on Christmas Eve when he was 14. I try to be sensitve to folks that don't dig the season.

Hope you get through the end of year

Julie said...

I'm not a shopper either but I did spend several hours with my daughter yesterday in a huge mall near Akron Ohio. My purpose was not to be an effective shopper. (That's where the stress appears.) My purpose was to have a good time with my daughter...and maybe have a tired shopper sneak a glance at my smile and feel a little emotional relief if but for just a moment.

When our society crumbles to the point of what took place at that Wal-Mart in NY it saddens me but it doesn't surprise me. There are people out there who allow outside influences make their decisions for them all the time....instead of finding peace and shining it outward.

If you can't get excited about the holidays anymore perhaps the reason got lost somewhere among those treats and cards that were left on your desk.

Gord H. said...


thanks for your visit to It Strikes.

you hooked me and I came back this way for the rant.

Then I found smarm's comment, was intrigued and detoured to her site where I found more posts and comments of interest, incl. your own.

When Black Friday, consumption, shopping mobs and an 'amazing deal' are put on the table a variety of opposing and passionate feelings arise.

Some are repelled, others are drawn in, with many others in between.

North Americans (including this little contrary Canadian) will have to resolve issues related to consumption soon.

I'm tending to stand back farther every year (to safely observe, partly) and have to sort out why I'm doing so without offending my wife, so I'm in for an interesting adventure.

you too I think.

gord h.

Gmj said...

OMG! you really know how to stir it up! :D

Daryl said...

I dont know what your commenters (except Gmj, who is kidding) want from you .. but here maybe this will stir the pot some more

I dont get waiting on or in line outside a Wal Mart or K Mart for anything their employee practices alone are heinous .. that aside the only killer sales where I would consider waiting on or in line for are Gucci, Armani, Prada and Fendi .. THOSE are shops with things worth dying for

So Smarmafoos .. take that and a Xanax and get over yourself


Doctor Err said...


smarmoofus said...

Daryl, you have got to be kidding me. Designer labels (typically made by subsistence-wage-earners in a third-world country and then sold for exorbitant prices) are okay to consume, but I need to get over myself? *walks off in disgust*