Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday

Black Friday mankini bitch fightI rarely indulge in “reality shopping” these days – if I can call it that – preferring instead the one-click delights of the virtual shopping basket that allows me to specifically search for a desired item without being distracted by other items on the shelf and without having to immerse myself in the body odour zone of the other shoppers at the check-out till. In truth I’ve become so conditioned to armchair shopping that I have forgotten how to physically browse for goods. I doubt I could even orientate myself around an alphabetized DVD display these days so used am I to typing in the first four letters of a movie title and then choosing the correct one from a drop-down menu.

But at this time of year I break with my usual habits and find myself wandering aimlessly through shopping malls at lunchtime looking for that flash of inspiration that will transmogrify into the perfect present for Auntie Doreen or Uncle Engelbert – basically forcing myself to think outside the tick-box.

I’m happy to report that my fellow shoppers have been polite and courteous to the point of not obstructing me or fighting me for the goods. I’d go so far as to say they’ve largely ignored me, so engrossed are they in their own lives and their own retail forays. This is how it should be,

Today, of course, is Black Friday. Yet another American tradition that has crossed the Atlantic to infect these shores with its salacious money-grubbing ways. Apparently it has something to do with Thanksgiving*, something we Brits don’t as yet celebrate but let’s give our American brethren time (*and not a reference to the way the Ferguson Police Department celebrate the commencement of the weekend). The excuse, of course, is that we are all immersed in the global market these days so ‘special shopping days’ like Black Friday are no longer confined to their country of origin. Whatever. I must confess I have partaken of some Black Friday deals online but the thought of queuing up for real outside a store akin to a rehearsal for the Boxing Day Sales does not float my mercantile boat. I just don’t want to be jostled by a crowd. It’s never enjoyable. And it’s worse when you are fuelled with the stress of trying to beat your fellow shoppers to the last turkey in the butcher’s shop window.

Apparently the police have had to be called out today to various supermarkets up and down the UK to exercise calming measures on the ferociously competitive crowds and there have even been injuries and some arrests. People have been knocked to the floor and trampled for the sake of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and others have been kneecapped for the prize of the last Frozen sing-a-long robotic doll. That’s not strictly true but although the details are fiction the overall picture is fact.

I can’t help feeling a sneering sense of despair that we – us normal, everyday, average consumers – can resort to such bestial behaviour for the sake of a few bargains. How quickly the thin veneer of social order is scraped away when someone waves a cheap box of mince pies our way. The pictures of the various online debacles resemble wildebeest fighting over the best place at the watering hole, not caring if their neighbour is spilled into the mouth of a patiently waiting crocodile.

It is appalling behaviour. But sadly not uncommon. I can recall a friend of mine once telling me of a furniture warehouse that was closing down in town. On the last day they gave away the remaining stock for free. A great opportunity, you’d think, for poorer families to benefit from some rare business largesse. Not so. The poor families were elbowed – literally – out of the way to enable entrepreneurs with vans to load up as many freebies as they could to resell at a later date at 100% profit. My friend was so disgusted by the behaviour of those around him he walked away empty handed by choice.

It’s the same kind of mind-set at play at these Black Friday riots. Screw thy neighbour in the manner you suspect he is going to screw you.

I’ve heard people theorize that shopping is a modern extension of the hunter / gatherer skills that are deeply imbedded within our psyche. I think this kind of behaviour disproves that theory. Hunter / gatherers were successful only because the activity was cooperative. Kicking an old lady to the floor for a tin of spam is uncooperative to the point of psychopathic behaviour.

At least when I shop on-line and buy the last item in stock I’m only being antisocial and unknowingly selfish.

Positive virtues by comparison.





20 comments:

Barry Coidan said...

Brilliant you're back. So you've recovered from your Twitter "Apprentice" outrage.

I always thought that Black Friday had something to do with the first day that businesses went into the black.

Loved the two female WWF wrestlers: so now!

John Gray said...

I think Black Friday is a good thing....as I need a massive load of help to afford Xmas gifts!
As long as PEOPLE BEHAVE,

Steve said...

Barry: yes, I have been suffering from inspiration lag. But it only takes one of the many annoyances of life to bring me out of semi-retirement.

John: exactly. Decent prices to help the moolah go round further is great. Being pepper-sprayed by a blue rinse wrestler from Wrexham for a pair of Marks & Spencers' socks is not so great.

Being Me said...

The thought of two shoppers jostling for the last Terry's Chocolate Orange - for themselves, presumably - is a sad reality. You armchair shop too? THAT'S why I haven't seen you! ;-)

Steve said...

Being Me: to be honest, as we both know, all is fair in love and chocolate. Anyway, I'd love to chat more but I'm waiting for the price of some Lego to drop on Amazon...

;-)

the fly in the web said...

Looks as though you've found the solution to ISIS....send a battalion of determined shoppers to the region with the news that ISIS have a stock of whatever it is that floats their boats at giveaway prices.

ISIS wouldn't know what had hit them...

Steve said...

The fly in the web: and selling camisoles at knockdown prices to infidels will severely damage the ISIS morale... brilliant!

London City (Mum) said...

Beyond my comprehension.

Since when was "I must get a new flat-screen TV" more important than "I must put food on the table for my kids"? And the (lack of) social decency that accompanies such mentality?

Actually, I have just answered my own question.

LCM x

(Stevie babe, you should do this more often - would help me stop pondering how to resolve ridiculous issues in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping)

Gorilla Bananas said...

Your Christmas presents don't sound very imaginative for an author. Why not write people poems instead, reciting them yourself in your silly jester costume? They could give you rotten tomatoes in return and everyone would be happy and laughing. Isn't that what Christmas is supposed to be like?

the fly in the web said...

I can just see one of these bearded wonders in a camisole....would it have to be green if he had visited Mecca?

Steve said...

LCM: I like that I am here to help sort out people's middle-of-the-night issues. And I like especially how that sounds so incredibly wrong.

Gorilla Bananas: so you mean just like every other day of the year?

The Fly In The Web: or supported the Pakistan football team.

K Ville said...

I had to go food shopping on Black Friday and I saw loads of people wearing other colours, so that confused me for a start but I think it's important not to be stuck in our comfort zones and embrace new traditions so I hit a couple of people that were holding a bag of carrots I fancied. There were more on the shelf but I definitely saw THAT bag first so technically that made them mine. It was worth venturing out as I managed to grab a packet of mushrooms knocked down to 59p. I'm telling you: I WON black friday!!! On a more serious note, our local paper reporting on the sales quoted a shopper 'I got lots of things including a flat screen with £250 knocked off, we didn't really need a new TV but it was a bargain'.....These people have the right to vote you know, it scares me.

Trish Burgess said...

It seems the annual New Year sales are getting earlier and earlier. Black Friday wasn't even in December. I suppose it's always been the same at the sales in terms of behaviour. I remember watching the fights when shoppers queued for hours outside Harrods before their sales in the 70s. And when I worked for John Lewis it was positively scary if you were based in the linen department on sales day!

Steve said...

K Ville: and that sums up my biggest problem with it - people fighting over stuff that they not only don't need but also didn't want until they saw it was "on offer".

Trish: maybe they ought to turn it into some kind of televised Gladiatorial gameshow? I would watch it just to Tweet about it sarcastically.

Rol said...

"Screw thy neighbour in the manner you suspect he is going to screw you."

Now you're talking the TRUE spirit of Christmas.

Steve said...

Rol: particularly when your neighbours are swingers...

Keith said...

I laughed like a drain when I saw that woman laying on her flat screen tv to stop others dragging it off. Like that is going to do the delicate electrics any good.

I have decided to stock up on essentials now and keep them ready 'cos come the end of days I would"t stand a chance down Tescos.

If it says long life it's got my name on it. Bagsy.

Steve said...

Keith: that woman had no class. Everyone knows that a taser is all you need for retail crowd control. Bagsy the front of the queue for one of those!

Nota Bene said...

Black Friday? Black Friday? It's a fecking outrage that we have to put up with these American imports. I've boycotted it, but only in the same way I don't rush to the Boxing Day sales...

Steve said...

Nota Bene: damned right. If we have to spend money let's do it the British way and find a rainy market.