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Walmart Black Friday 2011: A Touching Tale of Humanity

2011/11/25

Upon the urging of Mssr. Meathorse, I come to you today, with the ressurection of Opinionated Misfits,  to share my personal experience tale of the currently nationally maligned Walmart Black Friday (alright, more like ‘Crimson Thursday Night’) experience with a tale of awesome.

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There's Not Enough Visible Swearing For This To Be Accurate

Prologue: So, a few months back, we got a free Xbox360 4gb with the purchase of a Dell laptop – went through some debate back and forth on whether to keep it or sell it because I primarily game on the PC, and rather like it there….but, there’s a few things along the line that I’ve found I missed about consoles, so in the end, we opted to keep it so ‘Santa brings Matty something nice’.

Cut to two weeks ago, and the release of the Black Friday ads…specifically Walmart’s. See, not being a total selfish jackass (just mostly), I realized I’m going to have to share this thing with the children so I start looking at the Kinect and whatnot, but I’m still firmly against spending 60 bucks on a game, ever.  Lookee here! A Kinect bundle for 99 bucks….and what’s this? All sorts of new games marked down to 15, 20 and 28 bucks respectively….including the two I’m eyeballing, Arkham City and Madden 12….plus Just Dance 3 for the chillins’. So I make the decision: I’m diving into the pile.

The Story: Forward to last night: my stepdaughter (age 13) decides she’d like to ride-along on this glimpse into the ugliest of human endeavors, and I think ‘okay, because these dudes are bound to put the games and the bundles at separate sections of the store’ (correct assumption)….so I could use the extra legs on the case.

We arrive at 8 pm, with these particular items getting ‘released’ at 10 – decent parking, the crowd is just starting to assemble. We go searching for the bundle, to no avail….finally we ask the woman by the ‘full bundles’ video game area (over in the paint section) and she proceeds to hand me a map.  Those are two aisles over, between the stationary and boys’ sweatshirts.  Except they aren’t.  Nothing there….I figure ‘they short-sheeted this item’ and proceed to the three video game kiosks, or whatever those square cardboard displays are called. One for the PS3, one for the Wii, and in the middle, one for the Xbox 360…there’s folks already gathering, but none on the side where my three quests are conveniently lined up next to each other.

So we lock the position, quickly joined by a woman who, for purposes of this story, we will call ‘Latifah’, because if this were a movie, that’s who would be playing her. And she is fantastic….she begins to ask Brina, my step-daughter, if this is her first time doing this….upon finding out it is, she begins to provide education. ‘First off, girl, what do you have on your feet? Soft boots? That’s your first mistake. ALWAYS wear some shoes with a nice sole for comfort and traction, because you’re gonna need to move fast, girl’.  She continues: ‘Next up, NEVER grab a cart until after you have your hands wrapped on that one thing you absolutely came for. And don’t trust anybody – these people, THESE PEOPLE, are barely human, girl, they will take things out of your hand, your cart.  Don’t trust nobody’. Latifah then proceeds to play a game of Personality-Type  scavenger hunt for the next hour….’Okay, there he is…that’s ‘Unexplainably Pissed-Off Already Guy, you see him? That’s a dangerous one, stay away from him’….’whoop, there she is, ‘Unprepared Girl Who Thought She Could Show Up Late’…..’I’m still missing one….missing one….OH! You hear that?  There it is! It’s complete now…finally got ‘The Drunk Shopper’.

The crowd begins to slowly gather….to my immediate right is a fiftiesh-year-old woman who teaches special education and also has a side-gig at Dress Barn she has to open up at six in the morning.  She’s here for three copies of Madden for her son-in-laws, and one Let’s Dance for the granddaughter.  Noble, she is.  Next to her, off my back right shoulder is a woman there for one copy of Battlefield 3 – her first time in, a little nervous.

And then, behind them assembles a line of manpower equaled in history only by the ‘97 Broncos, maybe. Off my left shoulder is a 17 year old kid wearing a Barry Sanders jersey (nice work) there to pick out his own Christmas gift – this kid is about 5”11, 260, and does tell us ‘I’m not worried about the pushing; I play offensive line’.  He’s got his 10 year old brother with him – a real hydrant of a kid, whom Latifah brokers a deal with:  ‘Lil’ Joe’ is going to work the Wii kiosk (next to two ladies who got there early and sealed off the middle cut-lane with two carts – clearly not their first time in the championship game), grab Latifah the two Wii games she needs, and she’ll grab his copy of Arkham City. Off my right shoulder – behind the two nice, but nervous ladies, are three dudes – one who walked off the set of Roadhouse (he’s here for Batman), one a little larger than Roadhouse in a Clay Matthews jersey (Batman and some racing game) and a dude in a knit cap, not as big but wiry as hell – all the looks of a real scrapper. When asked what he was here for, his response was quick: ‘Me, I’m not here for anything, I’m with him (Matthews).  I just came to block’.

Artist's Rendering

Artist's Rendering

And right behind me….a 23 year old behemoth, going about 6’10”, 280 easily, that we’ll just call The Big Show.  And his friend, positioned right behind him, who had to have been about 6’5”, 250.  The crowd starts to really get thicker, and Big Show announces to our core group ‘now, nobody worry about this. There’s going to be some pushing, I do this every year, but we’ve got an exit strategy in place.  I only need to know one thing: do we all want to exit down the chip aisle or the toilet paper aisle’.  I take the opportunity to call the tissue aisle and he responds ‘Alright, that’s the exit. Just stay calm, people, and we’ll all get out alright.’ His friend Mini-Giant  then takes a cursory glance around and announces to the general population ‘so everybody understands, I’m not afraid to cut-block, so expect it’.

At this point, I send Brina out of the mass, and send her on a quest for the Kinect Bundle (which hasn’t been brought out yet, and nobody knows where it’s going to be unveiled….to shorten this a touch, she works magic and figures it out), we remain in constant contact via the text messaging.  I instruct her very clearly ‘if where you’re at starts looking ugly, cut and run, I don’t need you getting hurt, rookie’. Meanwhile Latifah is continuing to broker deals and reminding our core ‘the push is gonna come, expect it, it’s GOING TO HAPPEN.  Just remember, we hold the position; we get what we came early for’.

Barry Sanders says under his breath ‘I’m not worried about this, but my brother Joe…man, nothing better happen to him or my mom is going to kill me.  JOE! Maintain a line of sight!’

We’re still forty-five minutes away from the launch….but, we’ve taken the opportunity to pre-slit the shrink wrap for easy access (all the idea of Special Needs Teach).  We start to hear some rumbling behind….a new competitor to the field has arrived….a  5-3, Buck-O-Five 17 year old red-haired girl  we’ll call ‘Little Beyotch’ on account of it fits, who continues to ensure her friends ‘I’ll get up there, watch’ and on four separate occasions tries to whittle forward to be met with the unyielding elbow of Big Show.  When her mewling complaints start to get irritating, and she says ‘stop putting your elbow in my face’, Big Show never looks at her, only announces ‘This is America, not Russia.  I’ll do what I like, you may want to stop trying to cheat’. This is getting terrific.

Meanwhile, helpless Walmart Kiosk Guard emerges on my left side to announce ‘just remember folks, if anything gets out of hand, we WILL pull these pallets right out of here!’ Idler threats have never been spoken, as I highly doubt he was planning at any point to be physically disassembled by a bunch of rabid housewives in an aisle for $7.50 an hour. I note that in front of him this whole time is an 8 year old Pakistani kid who has spent the previous ten minutes practicing his spin moves and jukes in order to claim four separate items from three sides of the kiosk in under twelve seconds.  Yeah, we’re talkin’ practice, kid…good hustle. He also lets us know he’s planning to go over the top of the kiosk to escape.  Good luck son….hope to see you on the other side.

So I finally decide to ask Big Show ‘what are you here for anyway?’….and he replies ‘FIFA Soccer, which is kind of weird, because I don’t like soccer’. I look at him, and finally say…’you know, you probably don’t have to even wait here, I don’t think ANYBODY came here for FIFA’….and he returns the greatest sh*t-eating grin I’ve seen in years and replies ‘Oh, I know….I’m going to GameStop after this anyway.  I just love doing THIS.’

Twenty minutes to 10, and it’s starting to get unruly….Kiosk Guard announces, again, ‘We need you all to remember your humanity…’ – no lie, that’s a direct quote – ‘…and that’s what will let this go smoothly’….Big Show taps Special Needs Teach on the shoulder and says ‘Ma’am, you need to lock your knee.’ She replies ‘What?’ and he returns ‘You’ve got your left leg cocked, I know it’s tiring out here, but you HAVE to lock your knee and keep it there.  This is my third year, SOMEBODY is going to try to go under you if you don’t, and that’ll break bad’. She complies.

A rather large woman with eyeglasses  manufactured in 1978 pops her head up about three deep on the other side and points at me and says ‘excuse me, could you grab me a copy of NASCAR?’.  My only reply was ‘Ma’am, there’s way too many people here, I’m promising nothing to anyone except this guy behind me, you really should have gotten here earlier’.  Latifah takes a moment to address the squad one more time: ‘Remember people, WE HAVE POSITION.  WE ARE GETTING WHAT WE CAME FOR, DO NOT FORGET!’

And at 9:45…..I see a manager-type slowly work his way through the crowd, lean on the Wii Display and announce in a low tone ‘Folks, if you can act civily, you can begin to remove your games and continue with the rest of your shopping’…..Latifah and I process this instantly and begin going, giving us a half-second lead on the onslaught of jackals…and ‘jackals’ is an understatement.  Perfectly normal human beings instantly flushed with rage and panic – becoming an odd mash-up of ‘zombies’ and ‘rabies victims’ in an instant….and then Big Show’s ‘Exit Strategy’ unfolds.

I immediately grab one Arkham, the Just Dance, and two Maddens, handing one to Barry Sanders…the moment his hand hits the gamebox, I see Big Show’s face and hear ‘IS HE GOOD?’ I respond ‘He’s got it’ and Barry Sanders just disappears, re-emerging six feet over in under a second by the Charmin.  I wheel around and grab the FIFA, flip it over to Big Show who in one fluid moment of grace grabs it, flips it over his shoulder to Mini-Giant, grabs my shoulders  and asks ‘YOU GOOD?’, I reply ‘GO’, and he proceeds to grab me by the shoulders of my 220 lb, 6 foot frame, physically lift me off the ground about a foot or two -it really was a blur –  and extract me from the thrall with no more effort than I use to pick up a fun-sized bag of chips.  In a blink of an eye, I’m standing next to Barry Sanders again and looking onto a melee I can only imagine existed previously at Rolling Stones and Who concerts in the 70s, before ‘security’ became a thing.

I turn, and hurtling down the aisle at us is a woman shouting ‘Where’s Joe?  WHERE’S JOE?’….I look at Sanders, and he’s about to dive in when we hear ‘I GOT HIM’.  And woosh, another body drops out of the crowd out of nowhere.  It’s ‘Lil Joe, with four games in hand and a thousand-yard stare. Big Show dives back in again…..

Winston Churchill Had It Goin' On Back Then

Winston Churchill Had It Goin' On Back Then

It’s now when I realize ‘holy hell, Brina might be getting trampled’….so I hurtle down the aisle to the end, run down eight more aisles and kick back over by the frozen pizza, our designated ‘safe zone’. She’s nowhere, I search left and right and finally see her three aisles up, just watching the mass hysteria.  I shout her name, and she turns around….Kinect Bundle in hand and smile on her face.  I ask ‘are you okay?’ and she just says ‘nobody knew what the woman had on the pallet, so they all kept walking…she just handed this to me and I walked over here.’ Perfect.

We proceeded to the checkout, where I saw Sanders, Lil Joe and Mom again, we exchanged congratulations and hearty farewells….victory was ours this day, thanks to superior strategy.  And Brina announced ‘that was more fun than I’ve had in forever, let’s do this every year!’

As we walked to the car, she turned to me and said ‘How’d you get out of that so fast anyway? It’s was completely insane down there!  All I heard was a bunch of screaming and one guy yelling ‘get the…well, you know…..off of me!’ I thought you’d be dead.’

No baby, not dead.  Thanks to a man I know only as ‘Big Show’.  Last I saw him, he was launching back in and grabbing ahold of Special Needs.  Because America needs heroes.

Epilogue:
 I never saw  Latifah or Pakistani Iverson again….god speed noble allies.  I hope you got your 3 dollar waffle iron later, Latifah….you were the best field general  I ever knew.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sfilzen permalink
    2011/11/26 7:12 am

    Thank you for the most uplifting piece on black Friday I’ve read yet. May we all meet our Big Show this holiday season.

  2. 2011/11/26 9:57 am

    This has completely changed my view of Black Friday.

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