Athens Review, Athens, Texas

November 29, 2012

What happens to people during Black Friday?

Kathi Nailling
The Athens Review

Athens — I  don't get it. I will  never understand the enthusiasm over Black Friday. Normal everyday people get possessed.

My assignment if I choose to accept was to cover Black Friday on Thanksgiving  evening for the Review.  What I should have said No, not for me. 

I admit I have never attempted a Black Friday.  When I worked for the Pilot I always had ace photographer Charles Stiff to cover all that dirty work. As much as he loved it,  I avoided the stores on that crazy Friday.

I get the retailers.  They want to make as much money as possible. What I don't get are the people who wait in lines for hours to save those few important dollars.

I had spent Thursday in Rockwall visiting my family for Thanksgiving. It was a great day, with great food and lot of family interaction. Driving home from Rockwall I still  had not made up my mind as whether or not  to try Black Friday that night or  maybe wait for sunrise.

As I am driving down Highway 34 in Gun Barrel City I looked over at Walmart, still trying to make  my decision tonight or tomorrow. All I could see were cars, cars and more cars.

The parking lot was completely full. My decision got made. There had to be some picture in that store for the Review’s front page on Friday.

I drove around the parking lot for a few minutes trying to find a parking spot. Finally,  a car pulling out of the last parking space by the road. I grabbed it. I admit it was a hike up to the store. For a while I thought I may have to park across the street. So right now I am feeling lucky to have parked. 

I did not know what to expect. When I walked in the store there were different lines all over the store. I had no clue what was going on. What do you do if your a reporter? You ask questions.

They told me there were different lines for different sale items.  Yipee! Now all I have to do is find the line with the most excitement.

The toy line had the most peo-

ple gathered around. I almost chose the sheet and towel line. The sheet line was located over in the meat department. A person standing in the sheet line said they had the sheets in the freezer. Really? Still not getting it.

Lines all over the store, game lines, television lines and electronic lines. You name it and you could find a line to stand it. And keep standing for a long time. Still not getting what is going on.

All I wanted was one good picture to run in the paper. Which line was going to be the most active? I was told the toys or the electronic games.

I chose the toys, because those women and men looked like they knew just what they were doing.

The toys on sale were roped off with police tape. Are you kidding? It looked like a crime scene. It must have been somewhat of a crime, there were two or three of Gun Barrel City’s finest guarding these toys. As I found out the police were there just to make sure everyone conducted themselves in an orderly fashion. Yeah, right.

Another reason I chose the toys is because they went on sale at 8 p.m., while the electronics and television didn't go on sale until 10 p.m. I had no intention of being anywhere near that store at 10 p.m.

If you have never been to a Black Friday, this is the way it works.

The toys have the police tape around them. At 8 p.m. on the dot, not a minute earlier or minute later, they remove the tape. Now if you are not there to grab these toys, get out of the way. Which is what I did. These people were seriously after these toys.

I asked a young lady who had been waiting two hours to get a toy for her child if these were really good prices. Her answer “I don't know.” Girl what are you doing here? Unless you are saving mega bucks don't put your self through this torture.

A couple of experienced Black Friday shoppers told me some of the items had very good prices. Some toy I couldn't tell you the name of it, normally costs $80 it was on sale for $20. Okay that is a $60 savings. I still would not stand in line two or three hours, but I might pay someone to stand in line for me.  On girl told me she had spotters all up and down the row of toys. Seriously?

One person would grab the toy, they threw the toy to someone else who through it to someone who would put it in the cart.  Still not getting it.

All I wanted was a picture. I was back up against a counter and when the clock struck eight these people were on a hunt. I just aimed and started shooting pictures. All I could do is hope I would get a shot that could be used in the paper.

I was glad to get out of the store in one piece. If I am assigned Black Friday next year, I am thinking hazard pay.