The Black Friday Bottomless ChasmMonday, December 05, 2011 By Meera Jayaraman
I happened to stop by New Park Mall to pick up a pair of glasses on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Absentmindedly, I wandered into the Gap and picked up a cable knit sweater in a rich dark blue. Snagging a passing sales assistant, I hurriedly asked her the price. “It’s $39.99,” she said. But then she lowered her voice conspiratorially, “But this Friday, it’ll be thirty percent off!” I sighed and prepared myself for another Black Friday. Waking up in the wee hours of the morning. Coercing my mother into driving my friends and me to Valley Fair mall. Circling for hours in the parking lot, searching for an empty spot. Rushing from store to store. Feeling the bulging biceps on my arms from going through the racks all day - I swear I gained two pounds in muscle mass. That exhausted walk to the Starbucks on the other side of the mall only to realize the line is stretching the length of a football field. When I was younger, I would look forward to this memorable commencement to holiday shopping with glee, but the older me, much more of a cynic, can only remember the aching muscles and whole weekends spent recovering. You have to stop and think about how ironic the human race can get. After a day of giving thanks with friends and family, talking about how they are so thankful for the family, the good food, and the roof over their heads, they spend eight hours shopping for clothes and electronics. I’m not saying that I’m not a conscious part of the American country and mindset, but all the same, the irony is striking. So my day started with groggily plodding down the stairs and ended with me coming home, triumphant and exhausted from my spending. Was there any real point to it? Well, yes. I did save a few dollars on a few clothes, but was it worth my tiring journey? Maybe not. Monday morning, sixth period, I nodded sheepishly when my English teacher, Mr. Brown, asked me if I went shopping. “Well, I didn’t even wake up that early,” I said, “just at four! And I did save!” “When you SPEND money on something that’s been doubled and then marked down, that’s not saving,” he said, emphatically. Me: 0. Mr. Brown: 1. Maybe I’ll be older next year, and wiser. Maybe I’ll learn to print out coupons and hunt down better deals during the year instead of submitting to the hype of this infamous Friday. But then again, maybe not.