BLACK FRIDAY SPEECH:
Hey guys, even if you never read the blog posts under the strips, I’d really like it if you read today’s. It’s about Black Friday, and stuff that I really just need to get off my chest and talk about. If you’d like to skip the other stuff and just get to the Black Friday segment, scroll down a little bit and you’ll see another “Black Friday” thingy in bold text.
I’m super tired right now and still fuming a bit after writing the Black Friday stuff, so if there are any spelling errors, or grammatical errors, or what-have-you, I apologize.
Just a reminder, due to holiday nonsense, there won’t be a stream this week. Fear not, however, as the stream will (triumphantly) return next week! Wooo!
END LIVESTREAM UPDATE!
So I finished the main quest of Final Fantasy 13 towards the end of last week, and for some reason got it into my head that I wanted to clear the 64 or so optional missions.
Missions that I hadn’t completed during my first play-through because I had gotten so sick of the game by the time I was done with it.
The weird thing was that this time was no different; after rushing through the main storyline, I really had no desire to clear the endgame content past a lingering need just to be able to say that I had done so. With a heavy heart and a mind focused on letting no distraction derail my effort, I glumly set off to kill a number of generic enemies, many of which were just recolored rehashed of foes past.
Any some which were actually the same enemy fought on multiple occasions with no noticeable change to speak of.
Somehow I dragged myself through 51 of these silly quests, which were much less “quests” than they were episodes of “run to this location and kill the monster,” before I finally decided that I had long since had any fun playing the game and finally called it quits.
I can never really be sure what caused me to pop FF13 back in the disc tray for a second go-round, but I feel pretty confident in saying that I won’t be doing that ever again.
In other news, today is Thanksgiving! Woooo! I hope you guys enjoy the holiday!
As much as I’d like to go on about how great a holiday it is, there’s something else I’d rather talk about, Black Friday. This mini rant might border on preachy, so I apologize in advance and will step off of my soapbox the moment it’s finished. Here goes…
I hate Black Friday, I really do. As a matter of fact, I don’t think there’s any US “tradition” that’s more sinister. Just in case you are unfamiliar with BF, here’s a quick rundown:
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, a day that sees massive sales throughout almost every major retailer in the nation, which draws massive crowds of shoppers who, above all else, are present to get… stuff. Retailers take in money by the boatload on Black Friday, and in an attempt to bring in more and more each year, many stores have decided to open earlier and earlier, to the point where Black Friday begins on Thanksgiving. This year is no exception, retailers such as Walmart are opening at 8pm Thursday night, forcing their employees to be there even earlier, and most likely ruining their chance to enjoy the holiday with their families.
This sort of stuff pisses me off. For the two Black Fridays that I have worked, I was forced to leave my family early during Thanksgiving so I could return to the city to work crazy shifts, and deal with customers that were beyond savage. Even the time I was at home could not be enjoyed as I spent the whole day dreading the night.
Here is a short account of my experience from last year:
My store was opening at midnight, and my shift started at 10pm on Thanksgiving. I left my mother’s house in New Jersey around five so I could get back to my apartment in Queens, shower up, and head out to the store.
Upon arrival, I was told that I’d be one of the employees handing out vouchers for my department’s “doorbuster” items. A doorbuster, by the way, refers to one of the major sale items during Black Fridays, items so desired that vouchers are given out because in store stock of the item is relatively low. No voucher, no item.
My coworker and I were led outside by the store management to the line, which was less of a line than it was a massive sea of people that stretched all the way around the block and nearly back again. We were told to walk through the crowd to had out the vouchers.
I voiced my opinion that that wasn’t a good idea.
We were asked again to do so.
I think somewhere between five and ten seconds had expired before the mob of thousands noticed what my coworker and I were holding. It was then another two seconds before they started grabbing and ripping at us trying to get the vouchers.
We hastily forced our way out of the masses, and then a store security guard kindly walked the line with us on the outside of the fence.
Above the din of the crowd we’d call out the particular items that we had vouchers for. We were from the home theater department, so we only had tickets for a few TV models and blu-ray players.
Irate crowd members would yell at us and berate us for not having the vouchers for the items they wanted. Attempts to assure them that other department representatives would be coming soon were not met kindly.
Concerning the people who were interested in our few products, they were much, much worse. Every time we got to a new section of the line, we’d call out a few products. Customers shoved each other out of the way, yelling and forcing their way to the front of the fence, where their arms flailed with open palms like caged animals at zoo about to be fed.
Unfortunately for them, we eventually ran out vouchers. This prompted the most heated vitriol.
“What do you mean you ran out?! I’VE BEEN ON THIS LINE FOR HOURS!”
There were only so many, I’m sorry.
“I saw someone further up the line take TWO! CLEARLY YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO YOUR *%&#ING JOB YOU MONKEY!”
Incorrect, no customer was allowed multiple vouchers for the same item. Everyone is playing by the rules.
“YOU STUPID $#!^, YOU’RE SO $&@*ING RETARDED THIS IS THE ONLY JOB YOU CAN GET!”
“I hope you die.”
Every sling thrown my way I made an effort to smile. I’ll be honest, by the end of my line walk I felt completely miserable.
And that was just the first hour of the shift.
Once we moved back inside, I was one of two people manning my department’s registers.
For a few thousand people. The other departments fared no better.
I’m sure you know how that went down. The line snaked all over the place, and I checked out customers as fast as humanly possible. Too fast, it would turn out; at one point under an hour into running my checkout station, my register drawer couldn’t close. It was too full of money. I had to call a manager over and temporarily suspend taking any customers.
As I’m sure you might have guessed, they weren’t fond of that announcement.
Once the manager arrived, we discovered that there were tens of thousands of dollars in there, an amount so obscene that for the first time in my life I could imagine what it must feel like to be a drug lord.
Moving on, the register was depleted of cash (save for some left to make change) and we kept on trucking.
This went on for a few hours. Ringing up, occasionally calling a manager to get the register skimmed, customers getting annoyed at their peers, shooting venomous glances at the ones who dropped their credit cards or were taking too long to retrieve the cash from their wallets… you know, the usual.
Finally, my shift ended at 6am. Sure, I was tired and wanted to curl up into a ball and cry somewhere, but it was over! My part of Black Friday was done, right?
I was working a split shift for Black Friday, doing a 10pm-6am (which had just been completed) and then a 4pm-11:30pm later that day. Rather than waste time going home, sleeping for five seconds and heading back, I left my station at the register when my replacement arrived, walked straight ahead into the speaker room, shut the doors (that room was closed for the day) and slept on a recliner surrounded by a bunch of audio equipment.
My alarm roused me around 2pm. I got up, set the chair that had served as my mattress aside, emerged from my Hi-Fi bedchamber, and went to the break room to eat lunch.
A bunch of other employees as close to the brink of death as I was sat around munching on some food the store had provided us and watching a movie.
Angels and Demons, starring Tom Hanks.
I actually like that movie, and was a bit disappointed that my second shift started before it’s conclusion.
To be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot about my second shift that day… it’s possible that my brain ceased some functions in order to maintain my sanity… not many memories were recorded…
…I went back to my register and resumed checking people out…
…Richard showed up at one point to say hi… I think… I can’t really remember that well…
…one person picked Black Friday of all days to return a $1800 order with tons of individual products, each one requiring inspection in order to be returned. Thankfully that person didn’t come to my register…
The most vivid memory I have of the second shift came at the very end, when I left my register and walked to the break room to get my coat and leave. The way the building was situated, walking to the break room necessitated me to walk along my entire department, a place that I had spent so much time organizing and cleaning.
I’m a messy guy when it comes to my living spaces, but professionally, I’m not only as neat as I can be, I take a lot of pride in good presentation.
It’s with this in mind that I immediately felt devastated. The department was literally torn up; signs that had been ripped down littered the floor, garbage was spread everywhere, products that were tossed aside by inconsiderate customers could be seen in every direction.
This might sound silly, but that was my department that they destroyed. That was my place that I, with the help of my equally dedicated coworkers, spent all that time getting ready, prettying up, making presentable.
That was my little slice of life.
I know it was just a department in a retail store, I’m aware.
But that was my department.
Now it looked like a bomb hit it.
I just felt… defeated.
I feel as though there’s a basic level of courtesy that humans should display towards each other, and over those last 30 hours I had seen people dip below it. People who, otherwise, are probably all sane, rational members of society.
And now, this year, some stores are opening even earlier than last. As a former employee of a retail chain, I really feel like we need to put a stop to all this… this sort of thing isn’t right.
If stores want to do Black Friday nonsense, fine, they can do their thing. A store is out there to make money, and the only reason they are opening at these bat$#!^ crazy hours are because we let them.
You and me.
If a store knows that people are going to line up around the block for an 8pm Thanksgiving opening, of course they’re going to open. That’s what they do.
But here’s what we can do:
I’ll repeat that. Don’t go. Don’t do it. If shoppers decide that they’d rather spend time with their families, or at the very least, taking a break from this ridiculous, out of control consumerism, we can slowly put an end to this nonsense.
If you’re someone do doesn’t shop on Black Friday regardless, tell your friends and family who are considering to do so. Please, please try.
No one should have to go through that, just in the name of saving some money on a tv, or clothing, or gadget that’s just going to be thrown away in a few short years.
This Black Friday thing turns people into monsters. Let’s try to fight it.