A bitter wind greeted me outside the shuttle bus. Slippery ground threatened to carry me down hard, landing on concrete. Dark skies stretched out before me, and huddled individuals attempted to move quickly toward their destination. And in the distance, the monstrous lines were already growing, hissing with loud impatience.
Reinforced glass met my gaze. Memories of individuals climbing frantically over one another flooded my mind. Their foolish attempts sliced their wallets deep, and all the craziness was to purchase items hardly on sale. But the need to bypass the line and jump into the store gunned their engines, and no patience would keep them at bay. And their foolishness resulted in a broken window now fixed and with security waiting inside.
The interior of the store was empty, peaceful like a calm before the storm. The shelves were stocked full, and registers were ready and set for transactions. And the glass doors thundered under their hands as faces pressed up against the glass, and feet stamped impatiently like a pack of wild horses waiting to run free. And low moans rose in the air, zombies called to the sale.
A million eyes looked my way, begging for me to let them in. Cold wisps of breath painted the glass, and angry hands wiped it away. Mouths curled up into anticipation, and gazes gleamed with mint dollar signs. And a sea of pale faces swarmed around the store.
In a blink of an eye, I found myself seated at the dinner table. Children laughed and played. Adults talked in hush whispers or in loud conversations. Food crowded together on the table, and the red wine was open. And the bitter chill of the outside world vanished under the soft glow of those around me.
But Thanksgiving dinner had not been the same for a very long time. All those warm memories of family had disappeared with age. There were more phone calls now of wishing a happy holiday than being in their presence, but those phone calls also have seemed to dwindle down. And the table is no longer set with food to feed an army, and for the last two years, my faction of family had ventured out, dining at a local restaurant. But we are still together, basking in each other’s presence, and laughing about all those good times that seem like ages ago.
But now I found myself here. The food was still sticking in my throat, and the scene before me made my stomach curl. The sweet, sweet flavor of red wine turned bitter, and even if drunk, I would have sobered at the hysteria waiting to be unleashed. And my family was left beside the table, an empty chair in the corner, and when they head home, I would remain here until the sunrise. And the twelve hour shift felt more like eternity, but such was the life of retail. And the doors slammed open.
An onslaught of individuals headed my way. My back pressed against the wall behind me. Hands reached and grabbed items along the shelves, and eyes darted every which way, looking for the next item to grab their attention. And as they moved past me as if I were nothing more than an afterthought, I pushed my way toward the center of chaos, and I began my sales attack.
Despite my sales soaring, the mayhem chipped away at me, and by the end of twelve hours, I was ready to drop. And when finally released to the wild, winter world outside, I continued to be pressed and shoved by those still hungry to shop, and I thought about my family now sleeping peacefully away from this chaos. We never gave Black Friday a second thought until I got pulled into it, and now it carved my holiday like a Thanksgiving turkey. And there was no time to enjoy but time to survive, and eagerly I hurried toward the awaiting shuttle bus, hoping to put this nightmare behind me. But it would wait for me one year from today, and for two years, I would be its prisoner.
But I am no longer bound by Black Friday. As traffic jammed together outside the mall, I skirted by along the dirt roads. Red, angry lights bit deep into darkness, and horns blared from miles away. And hundreds of footsteps marched along concrete with hands outstretched, and wallets screamed to be spent. And low moans of sales carried through the night, and someone else was rushing through their holiday dinner to work through the mayhem. But that someone is no longer me, and that insanity would never hold me again. But is this what we have become? Wild animals hunting for the perfect sale, primal to spend? What about the families gathered at the table, waiting to talk of good times gone, and hoping to bask in the company of those they love? Has the Black Friday madness destroyed what Thanksgiving was supposed to be like? Would the madness ever end?