“I had to fight off three nuns and a preacher, but I got the last ‘Peace on Earth’ wall hanging.” – Humorist Ken Sheldon on shopping
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There were no reports of any Black Friday shopping injuries on the sick list at church Sunday, so I’m assuming that at least locally, last Friday’s annual insane shopping free-for-all was a success.
Only once in my life a few years ago did I submit to the temptation of Black Friday shopping. It was a near religious experience when I was reformed and repented that very day.
My temptation was lust for a new television, a problem I had been dealing with for a couple of years. I never rush into major purchases, sometimes not even small ones. However, I had deemed it time to replace my big tube set in favor a flat screen since I was the only unconverted tube television watcher I knew.
When Wal-Mart in Center promoted their Black Friday specials that year, there it was like a revelation at my price. The only stumbling block was the time: it was going on sale at 4:00 a.m. I’m an early riser so I have no aversions to getting up before the chickens do. One thing I am not, though, is an avid shopper. Don’t do random browsing for things I don’t need or don’t intend to buy. I adhere to the “hit and run” shopping style. I have a list, I hit only those items, pay for them and run.
In a temporary lapse of good judgement, however, that was the year I surrendered to temptation. The alarm sounded at 2 a.m. interrupting dreamy visions of a new television in my living room. A 3:00 a.m. arrival would put me first in line without a problem. Or so I thought.
Problems quickly reared their ugly head as the store came into sight. It was breathtaking: the parking lot was already full and cars were still streaming in from every side like the faithful flocking to a tent revival where no one less than Billy Graham himself might have been evangelizing.
Walking a mini-marathon to reach the door wasn’t the hard part, that was mixing with the multitudes crowding into the building where it was already elbow-to-elbow and every person for themselves. Trying to part the sea of humanity, I started searching for the line leading to the televisions.
“What are you doing here? I thought you had better sense,“ a familiar voice behind me laughed. I turned to greet Ed Roberts, retired Center police officer, longtime friend and fellow motorcycle rider who was working security. “I’m asking myself that same question about now,” I replied.
Lines of people snaked throughout the store. I found the TV line and followed it, certain that paradise was just around the corner. Wrong: it ran through the produce, around by the milk, up by the bagged chips and over near the baby diapers where a guy who appeared to be the end was standing quietly. “The TV line,” I asked? “I sure hope so,” he grumbled.
Returning to the front of the line, I quizzed a blue-vested employee how many of the tempting televisions he had to sell. “Twenty-five,” he shot back.
Walking the line back to the end, I counted more than 100 faithful souls thirsting for their reward. Still walking, I smiled as I passed Ed on the way out. “Did you find what you came for,” he quizzed. “Sure did,” I replied. “I found salvation from ever being dumb enough to try this again. I’ve seen the light and I’m going home.”
Before soul number 26 learned his or her fate for all of shopping eternity, I was back home and back in bed, secure in my redemption from ever being tempted by Black Friday again.
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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune, the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.
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