I usually would not go shopping on Thanksgiving Day. I am a seasoned Black Friday shopper and usually one of the first people in line at 4 a.m. waiting for the doors to open. I think Thanksgiving Day shouldn’t be a shopping day, so it took a little convincing and a chance to save a lot of money to make me decide to leave my home and venture out for some shopping Thursday evening.
From their circular in Thursday’s paper, I could tell Walmart stores were promoting deals that were really good. So I set my attention there. Apparently everyone in Orangeburg had the same idea. As I approached the parking lot, I could tell it was not going to be easy to find a parking spot. But, I’m a Southern woman and we know if there isn’t a space to be found, you make one of your own, and that’s just what I did. In the median on the far left side of the parking lot, I found a nice spot to park my SUV. I don’t recommend this for cars, as large tires on my SUV saved me.
Walking inside, I knew from Black Friday experiences that using a buggy would be detrimental to navigating the store. They make for too much congestion in the aisles, so I left a buggy behind in favor of carrying what I found to the register. This tactic worked. Though everyone else was stuck in the congestion with buggies, I was able to walk around and through nooks and crannies that others could not.
I went in search of video games. I asked one Walmart employee where I could find them and she directed me to the grocery side of the store. She had mentioned that it appeared to be “the calm before the storm.” It wasn’t until later that I found out her words would ring true.
I found the games just where she had said and there were already several people huddled around the tightly wrapped display. I found myself behind two very nice ladies. They asked me what I was looking for and told me where they were. It was awesome, I found two women who were not being rude or shoving, I wasn’t used to this. I thought this would be a good experience.
Then 6 p.m. arrived.
It was like a free-for-all. Decorum was thrown out the window. This was the Black Friday that I know. I tried to look through the games before they were all gone. People from the left and right of me snatched and grabbed. I found the one game I came for and stepped away and watched in utter amazement at what had just erupted. I tried to look around and find more deals, but, as I tried to navigate around the store, I decided that maybe this wasn’t a great idea. I found a few more items on my list and decided to make my way to the register. Then I found out that getting to a register was also going to be hectic.
I will say this for Walmart, the store was well-prepared. Most employees knew where everything was located and were very courteous. It seemed that you could not get to the registers unless you went through the designated line that had been marked off by yellow tape and balloons. Most people were looking around for where to find the beginning of the line. I asked one employee and he replied, “Somewhere over there.” I eventually found the line and began the very slow process of making my way toward the registers.
It wasn’t a terrible experience. I ran into an old acquaintance and we chatted for most of the wait. Then as I neared the end of the line, where the Walmart employee tells you which register to go to, I began to lose my cool.
A woman behind me decided she wanted to berate the Walmart employee directing traffic. This employee was so nice, I really did feel for her working in all this mess. But to quell the anger in the woman behind me, she told her that she could be next in line, even though there are two others in front of her.
I was about to ask the Walmart employee why we were being put aside when I was knocked from behind by the woman’s buggy. She was pushing me with her buggy. I started to complain and all she had to say was, “I’m next, she says I’m next.” I looked at the woman and berated her for being so pushy about knocking me out of the way. I mean we were all waiting.
I finally made it to the register. I made my purchase and made my way to my vehicle to finally go home. Then I found that getting out of the parking lot was going to take more time than getting in. There was a total standstill of vehicles either trying to get in or trying to get out. No one is moving.
I waited for 20 minutes just to turn left out of my aisle and only got to do so then because I asked a nice couple if I could turn in front of them. It was a nightmare. As I traveled home, I told myself that I’m getting too old to do this anymore. But I know that next year I’ll probably be out there again … just not on Black Thursday.
Beyond being a veteran Black Friday shopper, Kristin Coker is features/design/digital specialist for The Times and Democrat and TheTandDcom.