Lessons from “Black Friday”

Several years ago, I had my first, and probably only, Black Friday experience. After Thanksgiving dinner, one of my friends was going to sit in line at Target to cash in on the great sales and I thought that it was my opportunity to cross this off my bucket list.

It was the coldest night we had had that year. When I arrived, my friends were already in line behind 49 other shoppers. As I entered the line with them, I could feel hatred in the stares from those behind us. I guess I didn't understand line etiquette (or pretended not to understand). One of the wives pulled up with hot chocolate and an extra pair of gloves. And then we waited. We sat there for another hour or so and got to know all of our surrounding community. It was amazing to know that people actually had fun sitting out in the cold waiting just to shave a few dollars off the sales price. These were hardened, experienced shoppers. They had a strategy and enjoyed sharing theirs. People were laughing and telling their Black Friday war stories. This was kind of fun.

Picture by Powhusku on Flickr, Creative Commons License.

Picture by Powhusku on Flickr, Creative Commons License.

Then the doors opened and I realized that all the fun and games were over… people stopped talking to one another and started focusing. I had no idea what was about to happen but I would soon learn. I had my strategy… run in, buy my one gift, sit back and watch the action.

I literally ran to the electronics desk and purchased a pink iPod within about 2 minutes. I came, I conquered, I was the man, and thought I was done. I was so proud of myself until a petite lady, all of 5 feet tall, almost knocked me to the ground. As I moved out of her way, a shopping cart carrying two 50 inch TVs and a lot more just about took me out. As I wondered how they fit all that stuff in one basket, I realized that they had been in the store just as long as I had and all I had to show for it was one small iPod. My sense of pride was badly diminished at this point, so a little dejected, I moved into a corner and began to watch. I told myself that this was the real reason I had come.

Long story short, all that I had imaged unfolded in front of me… the fights, the pushing, the shoving, the eyes of "don’t even look at that, it’s mine." These people were good and I was impressed (and a little appalled). So, what did I learn?

First, never underestimate the strength of a petite, 5 foot woman!

Second, it is amazing what people will endure to get what they think they want. This can be a good thing depending on what they think they want. When hardships are seen as temporary, hope can carry you through the tough times.

Third, how fast a somewhat peaceful line can turn into utter chaos. I watched a fun loving, laughing community turn into "free-for-all" within seconds. If community, instead of competition, had been the goal, it would have been a totally different scene. All those things that were bought that day are probably broken or discarded by now, but relationships can last forever. Within our families and churches, the lesson should be to protect our relationships sometimes at the cost of falling short of our “goals.”

And last, don’t be so proud of your accomplishments… there’s always someone better than you! Be satisfied that you did what you were supposed to do and leave it at that. Enjoy your journey and you can even enjoy watching others in theirs.

Happy Shopping!

P.S. If you still need to do some shopping and want to do it online, consider using AmazonSmile or iGive - your shopping on these two sites will benefit Global Action as they will donate a portion of the amount you spend.