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The Why's Guy

Every lemming for himself: Must do Black Friday? I don't buy it

I missed the running of the bullies this year.

I didn't roll out of bed at 3 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving (Why not just stay up?) to schlep off in darkness under the smallest sliver of a moon. I didn't join a mass of humanity huddling near the locked doors of a major mall or nondescript big-box store, visions of savings dancing in my head.

Black Friday came and went. I wasn't part of it.

And my world didn't come to an end.

Skipping the annual shopping frenzy has become a tradition for me — one that I intend never to break.

Black Friday won't bully me.

But it has hooked a bunch of you.

The influence of advertising stars in this production. The media plays a role. Shoppers have bit parts. Capitalism and greed are the directors.

Buy now. Buy anything. Buy a bunch.

Pay later.

Every second is precious. Each year stores inch closer to a midnight opening. Soon the doors will open before the turkey gets carved. Let little Timmy and Tallulah baste the Butterball, you've got work to do.

Sounds like Home Alone 5.

But is there any reason to wait until Friday? Some people start lining up on Wednesday. Some shoppers in California pitched tents on Monday to ensure a quick start four days later.

If 96 hours in a tent isn't enough of a rush, wait until the doors swing open. The crush of humanity squirts you through the entry like toothpaste from a tube.

With "spectacular savings" in sight, it becomes neighbor against neighbor, every man for himself, women and children don't get to go first.

Want proof? Check out Black Friday on YouTube.com.

This year, the trivial turned tragic when a temporary worker was killed at a Wal-Mart on Long Island. This was no simple accident. It took some work. The crowd broke down the store's doors in a savings-fueled stampede. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound employee was trampled as shoppers rushed to save $20, $30, $40.

They got their deals; he suffocated.

Why?

Do moms throw elbows as they lunge for Elmo Live because it makes them feel like better mothers?

Do dads relive their glory days on the high school gridiron as they run over the competition on the way to Rock Band 2?

We are a competitive nation. Maybe shoppers get an adrenaline rush from each "victory." (Just remember not to spike the Wii as you leave the store.)

Maybe some shoppers want to get away from the family for a few hours. Or maybe they are lonely souls searching for a little personal contact.

I don't think headbutts count.

As shoppers filled their carts on Black Friday, two area sports teams failed to seize an opportunity.

Tampa Bay Lightning officials, who have complained about a lack of toughness on this year's team, should have sent scouts to watch the stampedes. You can teach someone to skate. You can't teach toughness.

Buccaneers scouts might have discovered the next great pass rusher on Black Friday. If you can break through a mass of humanity to score a computer, how tough can it be to get past an offensive tackle?

Things are out of hand. It's time to change how we act on Black Friday.

First, instead of focusing on what you can save, think about who you might save.

Before joining the rush, keep in mind that many of the items on sale in stores this year could be had for the same price online.

Quell the urge for instant gratification by remembering that stores will offer great deals all the way to Christmas.

But the best arguments for passing on the retail bull rush will be sitting at your table on Thanksgiving. Your kids just might enjoy spending Black Friday with Mom and Dad more than any present they unwrap weeks later.

Times staff writer Kyle Kreiger writes about the serious and silly with one question in mind: Why? He can be reached at kreiger@sptimes.com. To read previous rants, click on his name at the top of this column.

Every lemming for himself: Must do Black Friday? I don't buy it 12/04/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 12, 2008 1:23pm]
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