I know I teased great stories...which I'll get to, but I have to talk about the rest of my weekend. There's just...so much.
I'm starting to believe that Mr. Willoughby is right: The world is coming to an end. Not in the whole "Jesus comes down from the mountain" way. No...I think the end is coming from us. Black Friday is the perfect example.
I usually make it a rule: The day after Thanksgiving, I board up the house and hide. Unfortunately, my wife forgot to pack my son's saline spray which he needs for his nebulizing (He has lung issues right now). This meant that ole Leab had to go to Target (where his prescription is) to get it.
You have to understand: the town my wife's parents live in is a Wal-Mart town. There is a Target, but it's behind the Home Depot and only the "fancy rich-folk" go there. Much like King of the Hill, there are people who stand outside the Target talking about the death of the Mom and Pop Shops.
"Yep...place like this takes away our jobs....I'm out of chips...be right back."
Because I had to go out anyway, my wife's mother asked me for a favor:
"Could you please stop at Big Lot's and look for this camera? It's for your father-in-law's mother."
Now I get along pretty well with my mother-in-law, and I like my father-in-law's mother as she understands the feelings I have about Missouri, so I said yes...like an idiot.
8 AM on Friday. The store looks empty as I park.
Once I walk in, however, it's a different story. There are people literally crawling up the walls (on the shelves, of course) to grab the sale items. I don't see the camera, so I ask the store clerk by the door.
"Oh my...we sold out of those by 6:15. You should have been here like everyone else. The REAL shoppers were here then."
"Oh well," I replied. "Doesn't hurt to try."
"You snooze you lose," the clerk says. "You should have been here at 5 like everyone else."
"I really couldn't care. I just thought I would ask," I say, but the clerk has already moved on to someone else.
As I start to move around to leave the store, I see a DVD setup that's cheap. It's a Progressive Scan player marked down to $30. I know my brother-in-law wants one, so I pick it up to look at it.
After a few seconds, I hear a whoosh, and then my head starts to hurt. WHAM! Then again, WHAM!
"I saw it first, you fucker!" I hear screamed.
"What the hell?!" I scream back.
I turn and see a woman a half a foot shorter than me sizing me up with her purse for another hit. My hands shoot out to block her, but she's too quick, and she hits me in my groin. I'm not kidding.
"What...the...FUCK?!" I breathe out.
"I SAW IT FIRST! You took it out of my hands! It's mine!" She screams. She points to the DVD player I am clutching because my body is seizing while trying to get through the pain.
She rips the player from my hands and starts toward the checkout.
Here's the amazing part: NO ONE DOES ANYTHING!
The manager comes over and helps me up.
"Are you all right?" He asks me.
"Yeah," I say as the wave of nausea passes, "But why didn't you or anyone else help me?"
"Look," he starts, "It's our biggest shopping day. You aren't bleeding either. Were you planning on buying the player?"
"No. You weren't. Look, I saw you pull up in the car from...what is that...Minnesota? You're not from here. If I file a complaint, if I call the cops...you'll probably lose. You aren't from here...and she is. She's a well-known resident and well liked. Her husband's an ex-Fire Marshall. Just....Just let it go."
That's life on Black Friday.
But wait...it gets worse.
With my dignity hovering around my stomach, I hobbled back to my car and drove to Target.
It's here that I see humanity at its worse. People were pushing around packed carts buying stuff they would never need or use. Who buys fourteen bottles of Shampoo? Just because they're on sale? Sigh.
The creme de la creme, however, is when the partrons discovered the one unbought Playstation 3 (shows you how backwoods or off the beaten path this place is). Two customers saw it and each grabbed a worker to try and get it. They arrived at the same time. It started as a shouting match.
"I was here first."
"NO, I was!"
Then it degenerated.
"If you think you're getting the machine, I'll fucking kill you!"
"Is that a threat? I'm calling the cops!" and out comes a cell phone.
The other person saw the phone and slapped it out of the first person's hand.
I was transfixed. It was like watching a car accident. You want to look away, but your have to see it.
Slowly, the phone spun on the floor. As it stopped, the phone's owner looked at the phone on the floor...to the person who hit it...to the crowd...to the machine...back to the floor...then, as if overcome with a bloodlust, he screamed as he tackled the other person. The hands flew from both people. The two Target workers were screaming into their radios.
The rent-a-cops...uh...I mean Security Detail...moved as fast as their fat bodies could move them, but even they weren't sure what to do.
I went home and told my wife and mother-in-law this. To her credit, my wife hugged me, my son cooed, and my mother-in-law gave me an ice bag.
So why does this illustrate Tom's point?
Because we go to "war", we shoot each other, we beat each other over material goods that will be forgotten rather quickly after December 25th (or after the Eighth Day). Parents pay 300% on a Tickle Me Elmo in order to not disappoint little Johnny or Joanie.
I love my son, but I'm not getting up at 2 in the morning in order to get him a toy. He can deal. Plus, I really hope he'll learn why that toy isn't the end all be all of life.
We lament when we don't get the things we want. You can't really get all of us to vote or help the homeless, but we'll destroy others in order to get that cheap DVD player.
Isn't apathy the beginning of the downfall of civilization?
Am I overreacting here?
Have the multiple blows to the head left me without a true perception of life?
You tell me. All I know is the following:
1. NEVER again am I going out on Black Friday (and I couldn't even get my son's Saline as the damn pharmacy shut down for the day to, and I quote, "keep the aisles from being cluttered").
2. I wish I could have kicked the crap out of both the people in Target, taken the PS3, and donated it to the battered kids shelter nearby.
3. Hit the woman back. I don't care if she's old, you hit below the belt, and I believe in equal rights. I see you again, you go down, bitch!
4. If we value the material possessions of our life more than the intangibles, we start to forget who we are. I'm not talking about God here, folks. I'm talking about family, love, sunrises, pets, intelligence, etc.
Then again, what do I know? I'm the guy rolling in pain in aisle five. I could be wrong.