Hey everyone. This year’s thanksgiving blog is going to be a little different. This year, the blog doubles as an assignment for Dr. H’s class. We do an “a day in the life” about our experience with crazy black Friday shopping for extra credit. So instead of talking about this Thanksgiving break in chronological order, I’m going to first talk about black Friday and then about everything else.
First some quick context. It’s Thanksgiving. I get 4 days off for the holiday. This year my brother brought home one of his college friends, an Indian grad student studying at his college. He’s from India and this is his first time in the US. He wants to experience American Thanksgiving and all that comes with it. I was looking forward to showing him the craziness that is Black Friday. He is referred to as “J-man.”
While getting dressed for Thanksgiving, I notice the 2 extra safety vests I have in my closet. I tell everyone that is going shopping with us "ya know, I have 3 vests and 2 hoddies. We could all match this year." Joking definitely, don't want a repeat of 2012.
Black Friday was really different this year. Unlike 2010, and , all the stores opened up way early this year. They all opened up at like 6 PM and 7 PM Thanksgiving DAY! This made everything quite boring. As we do every year, my Dad went out and bought the Thanksgiving Day paper so we could get all the circulars. I know that I can do that all online, and I did a little bit before coming home, but it just isn’t the same. There’s something about actually flipping through those glossy pieces of paper scanning every ad for something that we might want. Have a look at the kayos.
Since my TV at college died, and I’ve been using an analog TV tuner connected to a 12 inch monitor to get my live TV, the one thing I was really looking for was a TV. All I needed was one that was at least 24 inches, had HDMI for my blu-ray player, and was under $100. That’s actually the same blu-ray player I picked-up last year.
We knew we could get a TV with those specifications. Black Friday always has deals on TVs. We found a couple in the circulars. Best Buy had the one that was perfect; Insignia 24 inch, $79, perfect. It was a 7 PM door buster. We were still doing our Thanksgiving thing at 7 PM. However, since this was the only thing we were actively trying to get, I was given permission to leave early, try to get the TV, and then come right back. I told Mom, the “ringleader” of both Thanksgiving and Black Friday, that “since I’ll already be in the store, I’ll try to get the one other think I wanted from Best Buy,” and being a reasonable request for this, the craziest shopping day of the year, I was given permission to also try to get the other thing. What was this other thing? The Big Bang Theory Season 6. .
Now I begin my trip to Best Buy. On my drive over, I start thinking over my game plan. “OK, if it’s anything like previous years, it will be really crowded with a line extending halfway around the parking lot of the next door bowling alley. Since they’ve been open for 30 minutes, that line will likely be down to a quarter of the lot. Since I’m just 1 person, I won’t need to worry about getting separated from the group when let in and I might get some priority. The lot is going to be packed. The most likely open place will be on the far end of the lot. Now the TVs are in the back. They’ve changed the layout since last summer so I might have to get creative with getting to the back. Everyone wants big TVs. There will be a TV left for me. Insignia 24 inch.”
At this point I make it to Best Buy. I check the back, no spots. I drive to the front, no spots. While at the front, I notice the line is quite short, like not even beyond the end of Best Buy. I circle back to the end, and I see people getting into a van. Bingo. I stalk the spot like a lion stalking an antelope. I back just far enough to give them space to pull out. I’m sitting in an “intersection” of the parking lot, and at this point, a big pick-up truck pulls up in one of the lanes. I could tell it was eyeing my spot. I’m driving a little vibe. This pick-up had to be twice my size. But this was my spot, and I wasn’t about to let it go. It pulls up a little, but I pull up even more. It pulls up a little again, and I completely block the intersection. I’m the alpha car. I get the spot.
My precious spot was at the spot furthest from the line. I get out of the car, lock the car, and jog over to the line, paying attention to the vehicles around me. I’m wearing my thick safety yellow hoodie with the reflective stripes so I know I’m visible. I weave between moving cars to get to the line. Here’s a video of me in line.
I get in quite quickly. I was expecting to wait in line for over 10 minutes, but I’m in the store within 5 minutes. I see the wall of display TVs, on the other side of the store, with all these obstacles in my way. I see an opening, strait to the cell phones. I briskly walk to the cell phone section. When I get to the cell phones, dead end. Well, it would be a dead end on a normal day, but today was not a normal day. There was a gap in the corner of the walls of merchandise just large enough for someone of my size to sneak through. Using my amazing powers of agility to step over a storage bin of stuff, I get through and make my way to the TVs. No products were harmed in the use of my secret passage.
I get to the TVs, and I see stacks of TVs, all different brands and sizes. I look for mine making a sweep of the area, but I don’t see the Insignia 24 inch for $79. Now as a man, I would normally not ask for help finding my stuff and just circle the area until I find what I want, but time was of the essence. I asked an employee where the Insignia 24 inch TVs were. I was standing right next to them, and there was a relatively large sign that said $79. I didn’t have time to feel embarrassed. I grab my TV, walk to the checkout, grab Big Bang Theory Season 6 on my way, and get in line. I’m expecting a 20 minute wait, but it was quite fast again, like 5-10 minutes. I pay for my stuff, and walk out to my car. Here’s a video I shot in the car.
I head back home with my score. All the guests are still there. They are impressed with the score. J-man was the most impressed. “My cell phone was $79, and it’s 21 inches shorter.” Yeah but your cell phone can do a lot more.
At about 9 PM, our guests leave. Only the guests that will go Black Friday with us stay. Normally the BF team is my mom, her friend, my brother, and me. Later in the night, one of my old high school friends will typically join us. Check out previous blogs for more information. This year however, things were different. This year, mom’s friend’s son, Z-man, and my brother’s friend J-man came along. J-man wanted to experience the American cultural phenomenon that is Black Friday and Z-man just wanted to see what it was like since he was now legally old enough to be out so late unsupervised. We split into 2 groups, mom and her friend, and the under 30 group. I took over as “ring leader” for the under 30 group. We wanted to go to K-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and then check Walmart for the scraps. Those 3 stores (K-Mart, Target, and Best Buy) happened to be within a 1/4 mile radius of each other. Sure, there’s a K-Mart and Target closer to our house, but those are much further away from each other.
First stop, K-Mart. Here, I wanted Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D and Animal Crossing New Leaf, both on 3DS. I’ve never been to this location before, but I found the electronics easily. They blocked off the electronics section and only let 5 or so people in at a time. They said it was because that’s where they were holding the door buster tablets, and to get the tablets you had to exchange a flyer you got from a wandering employee for the tablet. Understandable. I had to request my games because of this. I was able to get DKCR, but not Animal Crossing. Oh well. The rest of the group is doing some more browsing, and we’re in the store for about 30 minutes. My brother and J-man get headphones 50% off. It didn’t take very long to check out because there wasn’t many people there. Next stop, Target.
This particular Target was in a strip mall, next to Dunham’s Sporting Goods and across the street from Best Buy. At Target I wanted to get The Internship and Simpsons Season 18. They had The Internship, I got 1 of the 2 copies left, but they were out of Simpsons. Oh well. Z-man wanted to get Monster’s University. Here’s a funny thing with Target; the Black Friday deal movies were mixed in with the regular priced movies. While in line I saw that they had a special rack of BF deal only DVD and Blu-Rays, but in the normal DVD and Blu-Ray section of the store they also had the deals but they were mixed with the normal movies. At the price check there was a pile of movies that weren’t the correct edition. For example, the DVD version of The Internship was on special, but the Blu-Ray version wasn’t. Also, the Monster’s University DVD/Blu-Ray combo was on special, but not the stand alone DVD, the stand alone Blu-Ray, the collectors edition DVD/Blu-Ray combo, nor the Ultimate 3D Blu-Ray/normal Blu-Ray/DVD/digital copy combo. The line for the check-out was quite long. It snaked in and out of many aisles, most of which were personal hygiene. Here’s a video of the scene.
I told the team to bring me their stuff and I’ll wait in line. Z-man gave me Monster’s University and the money to pay for it. While I waited, everyone else went to Dunham’s. That was a good 45 minute wait. When checking out, there was a group of women that wanted to buy a bottle of wine. For some reason the computer said that they couldn’t legally sell alcohol at that time. The clerk checked with the manager, and he checked with someone even higher up, and they said “just ring it up as other.” Turns out that the group of women were from Canada and they wanted something alcoholic to drink in the hotel after the shopping was over. The rest of the team was done with Dunham’s by the time I finished checking out. In true stupid, young adult, 4 guys having fun late at night; my brother pulls up the car, doesn’t stop and instead coasts, I jump in while the car is moving, and yell “GO! GO! GO!” as if this was some sort of get away scene.
Before we head to Best Buy, we decide it would be a good idea to stop at 7-Eleven first. This way, we would be able to get some Slurpee sugar to keep the adrenalin up in addition to not having to make a left onto a really busy street. To get to Best Buy, turn left without a light onto a super busy street. To get to 7-Eleven, turn right onto the super busy street and then make a left at the light. This was J-man’s first Slurpee. After we get our frozen sugar, to Best Buy.
At this point it’s 10 PM. They have been open for 3 hours now. There was no line to get in. We just walked right in. Just about all the door busters are gone, including my TVs.
Luckily, I did all my needed shopping and I was just there for the ride at this point. I did a little looking around, just seeing what else was out there, but nothing really interested me. Since Black Friday is their busiest day of the year, all the terminal stations for each section become registers. I don’t know if they are retrofitted for today only or if they have this capability year round. Either way, there are registers in the middle of the store. My brother wanted to get a video camera, some accessories for that camera, and a couple of CDs. Unfortunately there was a problem checking out. Since we were at a center store register and no one was waiting for us, I suggested that they ring up the camera separate from everything else. That worked for the camera, but everything else, still problem. He “put back” the spare battery and that solved everything. He didn’t put enough money into his debit card account, so the problem was insufficient funds. I found out after all the shopping that I overdrew my account, but because I used it as credit instead of debit, I was able to overdraw because the transfer wasn’t instantaneous.
It’s 11 PM, all our main shopping was done. We head to Walmart in the off chance that there was some craziness to see. On Black Friday, Walmart has its doors open all night and they wrap the door busters in what is essentially cellophane. Read more about it in a previous blog here. This year, since they did their door buster’s so early, all the door busters were unwrapped and all the craziness was over. Only the “vultures” were left to see what we could still get after the initial crazy people. I went to the movie and game door buster scraps to see if anything caught my eye. I found Batman Arcam City and The Ratchet and Clank HD collection, both for PS3. I bought them on a whim since they’re both supposed to be great games. Then I see it, the one that got away, Animal Crossing New Leaf. When compared to other stores, this was the cheapest place to get it, and since it’s such a great game, I expected it to be gone. It was gone at K-Mart, and it was $5 more at K-Mart. And there wasn’t just 1 copy left. It was as if only half the games were gone. There had to be 2 shelves of it. I couldn’t believe it. I got my copy, looked around a little more, found the team, checked out, and left.
This year was definitely the most boring Black Friday. After all the shopping, we got back at 11:52 PM. It wasn’t even Friday yet. Since every store opened so early, all the crazy fun was done and over with by the time our Thanksgiving party was over. I think we even ended Thanksgiving earlier than we normally do, but that wasn’t enough to get there in time for the crazy. By doing door busters so early, all REALLY crazy people are done before the fairly crazy get there. Once the “normal” crazy are ready to head out, all the REALLY crazy and fairly crazy are gone. Most of the fun is diving over people once the cellophane comes off. Unless all 3 species of crazy are there at the same time, there’s no diving, there’s no reaching, there’s no fun. Normally my high school friend joins us at about 12:30-1:00 because his family’s Thanksgiving festivities last until around 11 PM. He wasn’t able to join us this year, and he’s the rest of the fun. I offered to do a second round of shopping just with him since this is pretty much the only time I get to see him in the short time I have with Thanksgiving break, but since it was just going to be the 2 of us and he wasn’t really interested in anything this year, he didn’t do Black Friday this year. I still had fun with the team this year, but it just wasn’t the same. Hopefully next year, all the stores open at midnight so the fun actually happens. Oh well.
Now for the rest of my short break.
Like every break, I came home on the train. Normally the train is 5-10 minutes late because another train had to pass it or it took longer than expected to load and unload passengers at the stops before mine. This time, the train was delayed 1 and a half hours. Apparently there was an obstruction on the track and it took them a while to move it. My train that was supposed to leave at 4 left at 5:30. I went through half a stack of newspaper comics waiting on the delay. Because the train got so behind schedule, it threw off the rest of the train routs. We had to let 2 different trains pass us, and that set us back another hour. I was scheduled to get to my destination at 7:30 PM, but instead got back at 10 PM. My grandparents were going to pick me up, everyone would get to see me and be happy I made it back, meet my brother’s friend, and it would be a little welcome home celebration. But since 10 PM is late for my grandparents and my brother wanted to see his best friend from high school, only my parents got to welcome me home. I’d get to see everyone tomorrow so no big deal.
Begin Thanksgiving Day. Mom, my brother, and J-man went to the parade. I got to wake up in my own house, eat a chocolate muffin, and enjoy being home. I watched some TV channels I don’t get up at school, played some video games, and use my electric blanket. I helped some with the getting set-up for the Thanksgiving festivities, mostly moving chairs and making sure there was enough room for people to visit. We expected people to show up at about 2 PM. My grandparents showed up at 2, and then their friends showed up at 2:15. My grandparent’s friend plays the accordion, and she brings it whenever there’s a family gathering. I jokingly told J-man “now this a normal part of Thanksgiving. Everyone’s grandparent’s has a friend that knows how to play the accordion and everyone gathers around and sings songs.” After the accordion, it was time for dinner. We had the normal turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and everything else. We also had ham and some kind of yogurt cucumber salad J-man made. We all enjoyed each other’s company. After dinner I went Black Friday shopping. You’ve already read about that.
The day following the shopping, Friday, I got my hair cut, hung out with mskate and later mbinski, the high school friend who missed Black Friday. Nothing super special there, just some fun with friends. I head back to college on Saturday, and now here we are. Well this has been Pokematic signing off and bu-bye.