Typically, I’m not a big shopper. I used to be, but that was before I had a child. Being a parent, your priorities change. I grew fond of saying, “I used to shop at Saks, but now I shop at TJ Maxx!” There were no more $60 makeup brushes from Trish McAvoy; no more expensive cashmere sweaters; no spur-of-the-moment shopping binges at DSW. Surprisingly (at least to my family and friends,) it really didn’t take long for me to adjust. I just had to get used to having a lot less cash to spend on frivolous things. I got more pleasure out of buying outfits and things for my new daughter at Babies “R” Us.
My 13-year-old and I just moved into our new 2-bedroom apartment. I used to have an older 27″ Proscan television, but I had given that one to my mom when hers was on the blink. So now my daughter and I are watching the tube on her tiny 13″ pink and purple Disney Princess television that I bought her six or seven years ago, when she was still little. Now, sitting on the sofa, I’m constantly straining my eyes to read the program info. The week of Thanksgiving, I’m attempting to hook up speakers to the little TV for surround sound when we watch a movie, but nothing is working. After about two hours of plugging and unplugging and replugging wires, I finally give up. I do the only thing that I can think of: I called BEST BUY to speak to one of the GEEK SQUAD to see if there was something I was doing wrong, and if they could help me resolve the problem. The Geek guy was very nice, but it seemed like it was the television that was to blame. After all, why I would imagine that a 13″ Disney Princess television for a little girl’s room would be surround sound-capable?
Eventually I had hoped to buy a flat screen television, so I asked the Geek which kind of technology he recommends for my future purchase (LCD/LED/or plasma,) and this is where my trouble begins….
He tells me that they are going to be having a Black Friday special on a 42″ SHARP television for only $199. I consider it for a few moments, and then I start to salivate over getting this TV for us. Only problem is, I have to go and wait on line Thanksgiving night, until the store opens its doors to the public. I’ve never done this before. The only other two Black Fridays that I actually shopped on, I would wake up in the very early morning hours (once intentionally, once purely by accident,) and go to the store a few hours after it opened its doors. But I decided that I must have this television for us. We really need one, and I’m imagining how much my daughter is going to love playing her XBOX and Wii games on a huge screen. Plus, it’s probably going to be our only opportunity to get one, as I don’t have hundreds of spare dollars to spend on what many consider a “luxury” item.
After I hung up with the Geek, I had a thought and called the store back to see how many of these televisions they were going to have available at this price. I spoke to a different person this time, and she said that all she knew was that they were going to be handing out tickets that you would need to purchase the television – and that as long as you were there when the store opened, you would be able to get one of these magical tickets. Of course it sounded too good to be true, but why would she lie about that?
Now, of course I realize that there are going to be people getting there really early, (any excuse to get away from their in-laws and crazy relatives on Thanksgiving must be motivation for many,) but I don’t want to stand on a line for hours and hours. I figured that I would go a little before the store opened its doors at 10pm, wait on the line that would already be formed by then, and hopefully it wouldn’t be too bad. At least I would get a ticket to buy this TV that I have my heart set on.
So I get to BEST BUY a little after 9pm on Thanksgiving night. There are a couple of police cars in the front of the building, with flashing lights, and there is this huge line of people going down to the end of the building that BEST BUY is located in. I find a spot and park my car. I walk past all of the people who are waiting, to the end of the line. Along the way, I see that someone had set up a small tent on the sidewalk that could probably fit one person comfortably inside, or possibly 2 people, if they really squeezed in there. I was a little incredulous at this sight. There are people who look like they’ve been there for days. Maybe I underestimated this crowd? Still, I go to the end of the line. I’m not sure of the number of people on line in front of me, although I expected it to be much worse, (being that the store was probably opening in another 40-45 minutes from that point.)
I brought my eReader with me to pass the time, and I had my smartphone that I could browse on also, just in case I couldn’t pick up a wi-fi signal with my little tablet. So, all-in-all, it’s not that bad. I figured that the time would fly by.
I figured wrong.
There were two guys on line directly in front of me. We eventually started speaking to each other. They were pretty nice guys. One of them works at Cold Spring Harbor Lab, I think the other one was between jobs. They told me that they do this together every year. They didn’t have anything in mind in particular, but were going to browse the store. I told them that I was just there specifically for the 42″ television that they were advertising for $199.
Then I remarked how the line wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, considering the store was opening at 10pm. I turned around, and I saw that a lot more people were starting to come. The line had almost doubled in size. And that was when one of the guys turned to me and said,
“Where did you hear 10 o’clock? They’re not opening until midnight.”
With all of the online browsing I had been doing, I must have gotten BEST BUY confused with TARGET or one of the other stores that was opening at an earlier hour. At that moment, I just felt myself deflate. I was starting to get a little antsy already, and now I find out that I have at least another two and a half hours to stand on the line – OMG. And even though the temperature was really nice that day, it was starting to get cold out and I was feeling it.
After an hour or more of waiting, the employees would come out, here and there, and walk the line with flyers that were the “tickets” for advertised items that were being promoted for Black Friday. There was a Canon digital camera for $85, a printer, etc. but no TV yet. I turn around and notice that the line behind me has now swelled, and there are people across this huge parking lot, stretching all the way to the movie theatre that is some distance away. I’m starting to think “How can even one-quarter of these people get the same television that I’m here for, if they wanted one?” There’s just too many of us there. Plus each time someone would come around with a new stack of flyers for another item, it sure didn’t seem like there were that many to go around. Not by a long shot. My inner voice told me I was being delusional. The side of me that’s always in denial told my inner voice to ‘shut the hell up and mind your own business.’
Of course, eventually the flyers for my TV did come around – all 26 of them! Needless to say, they may as well have given them out in the Republic of Burundi. I never saw a single one.
So now the TV is gone; there’s at least another hour to wait online before the doors open. It’s cold, I’m shivering and I’m miserable. As soon as it was announced that the television was no longer available, people started to leave in disgust. I actually wanted to leave, but I didn’t want that whole night to be a waste of time, two hours of freezing my butt off, for nothing. I thought to myself, at least go in and see if there’s anything else to buy. Anything. Even if it’s a damn memory card that you’re going to save ten dollars on, GET SOMETHING for God’s sake!
They finally open the doors at 12:15am. They would let a certain number of people in, and make the rest wait a few minutes, and then let in a few more. As we finally get to the front of the doors, we see that there’s now an ambulance there. I surmised that someone probably had a heart attack when they realized that the television was sold out.
The store was packed with people. I search and search and search, and I finally decide to settle on a 32″ LED flat screen (with a name that I’ve never even heard of,) but it’s priced at $199 also. So, 10″ less than what was promised to me – ah well, not the first time that’s happened. I’m examining it, with some apprehension. The picture didn’t look that spectacular in the store, and the salesman tells me that’s because it’s a floor model, and it’s turned on for hours every day. (Aren’t they all??)
But I buy it, and now we have the television at home. And happily, the picture is even better and brighter than the display model that was in the store. Most of all, my daughter is happy-as-a-clam!
The moral of this story:
“Bigger is not always better. Sometimes, brighter is all you really need.”