Shopping can wait until after the madness

Published 10:05 am Friday, November 27, 2015

Today is technically the start of the annual Christmas shopping season known as “Black Friday.”

How that name came about, I’ll never know, but I’m sure it was coined by some overwrought, upset and trampled store employee who was caught in the maelstrom of anxious shoppers overwhelming the stores and throwing more body checks than a hockey player in the finals of the Stanley Cup.

My first exposure to Black Friday was in Norcross, Ga., where my wife, our daughter and I had gone to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. It was an experience. I was up early and watching TV to try and get some news, and every station in the Atlanta area was broadcasting updates on traffic conditions and the available parking spaces at the area malls.

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It was during that period my sister — who should wear a tattoo saying, “Shop ‘til You Drop” — suggested she wanted to go shopping, and like an idiot I said, “let’s go.”

Big mistake.

The stores were obviously crowded, even the bookstores.

Now I love to spend time in a bookstore. I like to walk around, look at the different titles and see what steals I can find in the bargain books section. There was no chance of doing that on this trip. My sister was aching to get moving to find the bargains, and any chance for a respite in a quiet atmosphere were slim and none.

We walked out the bookstore and into the mall’s main court. The traffic was heavy and the noise was unbelievable. This venture was before cell phones became popular and affordable, and it wasn’t unusual to see people carrying small two-way radios and talking to some unknown individual somewhere in the vast expanse of a three-story mall about some kind of item: “What do you mean they don’t have it? They said they had it in stock.” “They want how much? That’s too much. I know where we can get it cheaper.”

Since that experience, I stayed away from Black Friday events until a few years ago when I covered it here. I remember arriving at the Vicksburg Mall about midnight to see this line of people starting at the front door of one of the mall’s department store and winding around the building. When the doors opened, it was like the Corps of Engineers opening the gates of the Morganza Spillway in Louisiana during the 2011 spring Mississippi River flood. This huge wave of humanity burst into the store and spread across its floor. Most of my time was spent navigating this tide and trying to talk to customers about their experience and why they risked their lives.

Things have changed over the years since I wrote that Black Friday story. Stores now open Thanksgiving night with bargains for those shoppers ready to work off Thanksgiving dinner.

It won’t matter. I’ll still stay away from Black Friday because this annual shopping mayhem takes the fun out of Christmas shopping, which should be done at a leisurely pace with the goal of finding that special gift for that special someone, not engaging in body slams and throwing forearms to get the latest thingy on sale.

I plan to do my shopping after Friday, when the hurricane has left.


About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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