Saturday, November 28, 2009

2009 - The Year of the Zhu-zhu

As sick as it may be, spending my Thanksgiving evening among the hundreds of locals searching for their deal-of-the-century has become something of a tradition. It actually started years back when I was not home, but on vacation in Wisconsin with family friends. Heather, the girl nearest my age and I were most likely complaining about the lack of things to do now that Thanksgiving had gone when someone sarcastically threw out Black Friday shopping as one idea. I didn't even know what that meant. Next thing I knew, I was freezing cold, standing outside a store I had never heard of, not looking to buy anything, but amongst hundreds of others who knew precisely where they were going when those doors cracked. I was astounded. Now, every year my friends and I get together, pick a spot and go solely for the purposes of observation.

I suppose for me, the experience is two-fold. On one side, I find myself appalled (though not surprised) at the frantic, mindless, and just outright inconsiderate behavior of humans towards others. The most obvious example of this being the man who was trampled to death last year at a Wal-Mart. Outrageous is probably an appropriate adjective here. I am constantly amazed at the power of intangible forces such as greed and peer-pressure. For others however, despite the seemingly overwhelming stench of capitalism, this day provides a unique opportunity to grow closer. Standing, sitting, even camping in line, many families and friends I spoke with appeared to be in great spirits, enjoying the conversation and even laughing themselves at the absurdity of the situation.

Without continuing into a full dissertation diagramming the details of Black Friday and its social implications, let's just say you should go at least once, if not just to witness first hand the kind of behavior only an extremely well-off, disillusioned populous can parade.

Of course, I brought my camera. And ISO performance has come a LONG way. All images are on the D700 at 3200 ISO. Awesome. The opening image is a stitch obviously, and a poor one at that. I threw it together realizing the couple shots I took with the spiratone 18mm were wide, but still not enough to fully describe the line and having not planned on making a panoramic, I had to pull the 3 shots together despite having been taken from three different vantage points. It but you get the idea. This was the midnight opening at Toy'R'Us. Below I have made a diagram of the Line Dynamics.

The GREEN ARROW represents the true entry line, the die-hards. Though honest and law abiding, they still demonstrate a disregard for common sense as they stand hours and sometimes days on the sidewalk to get the first crack at a hard to find $10 toy for their kids. Last year I spoke with a family who camped out in front of Best Buy (Also known as Worst Buy) beginning Wednesday morning, ate turkey dinner on the sidewalk, and made it in to get their $200 laptop or whatever it was. The BLUE CIRCLE represents the bystander zone and acts as a screen for snipers, as denoted by the BLUE-TO-RED ARROWS. While many like myself come to just watch the mayhem others have given up on being first in line and resign themselves to getting in when the end of the line makes it through the doors. Either way, most in this area were laughing and in good spirits. Perhaps the distance from entry is symbolic of their true distance from the situation? Whatever their motives, the BLUE ZONE provides the perfect screen for many latecomers to sneak into the chaotic mass of people shoving their way through the doors once the line begins to move. I'd say the success rate was about 50% on the night. I positioned myself just to the right of the door (and not without being shouted at before I pointed to the camera indicating I was no threat to their electronic hampster toys). Some snipers would sneak their way right through with only as many as one or two people yelling to no avail that they be sent to the back of the line. Others were not as fortunate. Such was the case for this man:

Oh yes! The police were someone in line no less.

Well in the end, no deaths, not even an arrest. They just asked the man not to enter the store and go home. Then the police even commented aloud on the senseless behavior and continued on their way.

We did go IN as well but after seeing images such as those found on the People of Wal-Mart Blog like this one below, we didn't see anything particularly shocking:

The Walmart Crib (Black Friday Edition)

I wish I had seen that haha! No my images are relegated to elderly people standing beneath towers of toys attempting to move through the store to no avail. Perhaps Ill catch a gem such as the above next year! To those who were out participating: sit and think about your behavior! And being that somehow this post went down unbeknownst to me, and its now mid february, take a moment to reflect. Are you even still using whatever it was you stood in line so patiently for? Is your child a better person? haha

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