Was it worth it? When you, at midnight, were elbowing your way to the front of the rioting doorbuster mob, did you catch a glimpse of yourself reflected in the glass that, for thirty more seconds, stood between you and the underpaid, turkey-deprived employees on the other side? Did you notice the beastlike gleam in your eyes? Did it scare you?
A video of Samantha Chavez screaming and struggling on the floor of a Florida Walmart as a cop cuffs her hands behind her back has made the obligatory internet rounds, serving as an affirmation to all Black Friday abstainers. Chavez, 28, was arrested for allegedly trying to skip the checkout line. No one likes a line cutter, but on any other day, say Taco Tuesday or even Manic Monday, would this despicable act warrant an arrest? Now, Chavez says she was just trying to find her sister-in-law, whose phone batteries had died. The arrest, says Chavez, was “very very traumatic.” You know what, Samantha? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say you’re not a dirty line cutter after all. You’re just a woman who got lost at the store, like a child. Still, if you and your sister-in-law hadn’t decided to descend into the cauldron of greed on the night of a holiday about thankfulness, maybe you wouldn’t have spent the weekend going viral and getting bailed out of county jail.
Then there are the folks who were blinded by deals so spectacular that they forgot about the tiny, innocent people who, because they don’t know anything about anything, look at them as role models. An unnamed (lucky for him) guy in Springfield, Mass., reportedly went to the Kmart where his girlfriend works to buy a 51-inch TV. He brought the girlfriend’s two-year-old son along, but left him in the car. In an outdoor parking lot, in November, in Massachusetts. Around 1:30 a.m., cops got the child out of the car and went to the man’s house to see what the hell he was thinking. Once he got his precious TV, the man said, he “panicked” because he couldn’t find the boy and called for a ride home. If this story doesn’t make sense, it’s because nothing about Black Friday makes any sense.
So Chavez lost her dignity and $550 in bail money and the unnamed Springfield guy lost his girlfriend’s kid and hopefully his girlfriend. At least they’re still alive, unlike an accused Walmart shoplifter who died after a “physical altercation” with employees in the parking lot. The man was reportedly walking out of a Lithonia, Ga., Walmart with two unpaid-for DVD players around 1:30 a.m. over the Black Friday weekend when he was tackled to the ground by two Walmart employees and a private security guard. By the time a real policeman arrived, he saw that the middle aged man was unresponsive and bleeding from the face. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Sure, shoplifting is wrong, but it’s nothing worth dying over. The guard is fired and the employees are suspended pending an investigation and it’s unclear if charges will be filed. Charges or not, they now have blood on their hands and that’s not easy to shake. Perhaps if everyone at Walmart wasn’t worked into a foamy-mouthed frenzy, the employees wouldn’t have been compelled to resort to such aggressive means in stopping the shoplifter.
And in the end, as many of those who choose to stay home have long suspected, the deals aren’t really that great. The Wall Street Journal reports that many of the “one day only” deals advertised for Black Friday are actually available at lower prices at other times of year. And even if they weren’t, even if they were giving out iPads for a dollar, is risking life and limb in a midnight melee at Walmart really worth it? No. A weekend of eating, drinking and sleeping is the real deal that can’t be beat.