Every year, millions of Americans flock to the After Thanksgiving sales at box stores around the country. I am usually not among them. Mostly because I don’t engage in over-indulging my child, my nieces, and my nephews with low-quality, Made in China, sweatshop produced goods that will be out of vogue just weeks after they receive them (should they actually last that long). But this year … well, this year Toys R Us opened at midnight on Black Friday … and I was there. Not to shop (although I was very tempted by some of the DVDs and did go back later in the day to buy Isaac one of his fave Barbie movies) … but to photograph the mayhem.
When I arrived at Toys R Us in Bangor at 12:15 AM, the parking lot was completely full as were all the neighboring parking lots. There were police cruisers blocking the entry way of those parking lots that were full … and cops directing traffic from several angles. The line to get into the store was SO long … like nothing I have ever seen before. I called my Mom from my cell and told her I thought maybe Elvis died … as it looked like his funeral procession was taking place (this was funny to both of us – but maybe you have to understand our mutual love for Elvis in order to find this funny). Anyway, the scene was wild. And just as I went to photograph it, I realized I forgot my camera (real smooth Jodi).
So, I drove back home to get my camera and returned at about 12:35 AM. The line outside the store was gone … but that was because everybody had sardined themselves into the building. I walked in to find that people could barely move. And the isles were filled with people and shopping carts from one end of the store to another. Again, I had never seen anything like it. I was shocked. I wondered what on earth would happen if a fire broke out or some crazy person took out a gun. We would all be trampling all over one another … and there would no doubt be causalities. I also wondered if having this many people in a building was illegal … and decided that it would have to be.
I worried that people would be unkind to one another (the whole ‘rats in a cage’ scenario) … but was pleasantly surprised to find that just about everyone I chatted with or stood near was just as shocked as I was by the magnitude of people there …. that they were all laughing at themselves and one another for participating in this shopping madness. The mood was fairly cheerful. I also found that a great number of folks were from Canada and had come down for the holiday sales (many of whom said they would never do this again — and their shopping day had only just begun). French Canadian accents could be heard in every aisle … as could cell phones … and people yelling across to family members in other aisles … (“Martha, grab me a Three Musketeers Barbie and a I’ll grab you one of these Lego Sets!”). Some folks had this shopping thing down to a science and used cell phones with 3-way calling to spread out and grab everything one another wanted.
As for me — well, the mayhem was fun to watch. I LOVE watching people. I have always been intrigued by how people behave in groups … react to stressful situations … how they engage with one another … etc. And watching all these folks did not disappoint. First, as always, I left proud of my fellow Mainers for keeping cool with one another … for laughing … for being polite, etc. There were some jerks … as always. And a couple of women fought over a toy helicopter (I only heard but did not see the fight). But for the most part, people were well behaved.
I pray that you all begin to fully enjoy this magical, spiritual, heart-warming season of love, light and fellowship.
Please share with us your special holiday traditions … and how you are working to make the holidays more about love and fellowship and less about material goods.