Pepper Sprays, Gunshots, Bruises, and Bargains

There are kinds of foreign traditions that always leave me puzzled. Like how the thousands of Dutch jumped to the freezing Scheveningen beach with their shorts and bikinis to celebrate the New Year. Or how the millions of American shoppers waited outside department stores for many hours in the cold in order to get Black Friday deals.

Black Friday is the day after thanksgiving, which for both retailers and shoppers marked the beginning of the holiday shopping season. A news channel mentioned that the retailers make 40% of their profit just from the sales made during this time of year. This, by the way, was cited as the origin where Black Friday got its name: that the retailers are making so much profit and thus recording it with black ink (as opposed to the loss, which I believe is recorded with red ink – or in purple if they’re funky :)).

Each following morning after the Black Friday, the news will recap about all the craziness that happens during that day. This year, a woman was reported of using a paper spray on the fellow shoppers in order to cut the long lines for the Xbox game consoles. Gunshot was fired by robbers in the parking lot. And as usual, some injured shoppers were evacuated to the hospital, and police knocked down some people for stealing or fighting for something. Well, at least nobody got killed this year. In 2008, a Walmart employee was trampled to death as he opened the door and the crowd were not even willing to stop what they were doing. So much madness!!

On my first year in the US, I felt that I should see this American experience in person. So I went to the mall during the Black Friday afternoon, since I assumed that things will be less chaotic. I only lasted there for not even an hour. It was overly crowded, clothes and stuffs are all over the floor, and lines were long. As a consumer I like all the great bargains and deals, but I really don’t think it’s worth it to camp outside in the middle of the cold night in order to occupy the malls and especially to be inhumane to others just so you can save some money (yes, that’s how we do it: saving money by actually spending it).

If you’re interested to see the shopping frenzy, don’t go to the malls. If there’s one American experience that you would want to miss, maybe it’s the Black Friday. If you’re interested to get good deals, just wait for the Cyber Monday! You don’t want to be the part of all the shopping craziness like this one:  

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