I was hesitant.
I was grumpy.
I was in my PJ's enjoying some post Thanksgiving meal sloth when Megan of Undomestic Diva floated the idea.
"Let's go shopping at midnight for Black Friday."
My first thought? Only crazy people go shopping at midnight on Black Friday. Crazy people that get caught in stampedes and only end up saving pennies. Crazy, wild-eyed consumers who are willing to punch out mothers for that elusive fill-in-the-blank hot toy.
I'm not crazy.
I'm not one of them.
I'm comfy here on my couch contemplating more stuffing and pie.
Of course a few hours and one husband arm-twisting later (some background: he's a coupon freak) I found myself 40 miles away from home, in another Momblogger's SUV, sipping Red-Bull and talking game plan.
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How's this store laid out?
I'm thinking Bakugon then Barbie then Wii games the Legos then Princess stuff. Should we even try for that elusive Zhu Zhu?
Do we split up and meet later? Is there safety in numbers?
Did you see the line?
Remind me why we're here again.
Megan was ready to rock. She had her video camera and attitude and copious amounts of energy drinks. Me? I was annoyed I was even talked into this debacle. And I knew it would be a debacle.
What if we were at the store that had an 'incident' that made the news? You know that would be my luck. What if the fire marshal only lets so many in and we're in line all damn night? What if I FOUND NOTHING I NEEDED?
Speaking of what I needed. I came prepared. I made a handwritten list of my children's wish lists and had studied it again and again. Megan? She had a vague idea what her three boys were asking for.
We're a pair.
Finally the time came to leave the warmth of our car and head inside. It was 11:55pm and the line was getting long.
We just didn't realize how long.
It took us 5.5 minutes to find the end of the line to enter the store. We timed it. It was that long.
There were shoppers for what seemed like miles. And the front of the line all had tickets. Paper tickets. What the hell?
Assessing the situation I became increasingly annoyed. This was easily one of the stupidest things I had ever done and I was convinced that given the line and what what was obviously people with tickets for the good deals we're walking away with nothing worthwhile. This was so stupid.
We'd be in back taking the reject toys.
But... we got in line. What else can you do? I had come this far. It was midnight. I had to get in line. Sure I thought about just getting in my car and going home but... I'm here. I've made it out of my pj's and in front of this store. I can DO THIS.
But something was nagging me. The back of my mind was spinning. Somewhere between getting out of the car and following the line from hell into the store I had an epipheny:
I am my mother.
And it all came back in a flash. My Mom and Aunt had done this when I was a kid. I think my Uncle even went once and got into a fist fight over a Cabbage Patch.
OMG I AM MY MOTHER.
Which means I am now walking into a major toy store at midnight on Black Friday questioning my life. Amazing what shopping does to me.
Finally we made it inside. Despite the line outside you could move around in the store. Everything was on shelves and not as I envisioned, spread across the floor as women scratched eachother to get to it... Megan was in grab mode, I was focused on my list. Must. Stick. To. The. List. Game plan! Game plan! FOCUS! FOCUS!
Of course there were no carts left so we grabbed these big tub things to fill up. It was then my eyes kinda glazed over and instinct took hold.
In front of us? Bakugon. GO GO GO. Any from my list? One. GRAB IT GRAB IT. ... Wait...over there...LEGOS... GO GO GO... right set? No. Wait. There it is. Right type? NO. ABORT ABORT.
Where's the girl stuff? Oh wait, there's the microscopes. Is it the door buster one? YES YES GRAB GRAB wait... it doesn't have slides. Look, there's another. PULL IT DOWN!
Then came the big Barbie camper my daughter has been asking for. The 'House on wheels' so her and Miss Unrealistic Proportions can go see the country. The monster box was on the highest shelf. There were four of them. Of course I say 'Let me go find someone' and Megan says 'Screw that I'll get it down.'
So while I wander off to find an employee, Megan has emptied, flipped over, and stacked our tubs so she can climb the display to get my 4-year old that damn Barbie camper. A crowd gathers. Others have spotted the camper and want it too. Megan (who's all of like 5' 2'') is now standing on plastic teetering with a wrapping paper roll trying to push down four boxes that weigh as much as a tv.
Me? PLEASE GOD MR EMPLOYEE MAN SHOW UP WITH THAT LADDER NOW BEFORE WE ALL DIE.
Crash. Smash. Crash. Plop.
You got yours?
Did they all hit you?
Are you ok?
I think I have a concussion.
We got the fucking camper.
It's not even on sale.
The rest of the night (early morning) became a blur. I grabbed shiny things. That weren't on sale. I contemplated purchases no sane woman would (a drum kit? on sale? it's a door buster? GRAB GRAB GRAB. Wait. I don't need a drum kit. Jesus I'll kill myself if my kid gets a drum kit. BUT IT'S A DOOR BUSTER GRAB IT NOW WE GOT THE LAST ONES)
We finally checked out. I declared I was done. Megan, being insane, pressured me for the 3am store opening down the way and more Red Bull.
No. No. Must. Go. Home.
We hugged through bags of toys we didn't need and I made the trek back home while she trudged on. Through 5am. And rumor has it she has a black eye to show for it this morning.
And possibly a concussion.
What did I learn? You must have a game plan. You must have your lists. You MUST stay focused on ONLY the deals and your lists. You MUST get in line early to get the paper tickets for the big deals. You must have the balls to NOT wait for employees to get things off shelves and be willing to get a head wound.
I'm not sure I'm cut out for this again. I wasn't sure I saved any money and I was positive I bought junk I never would have considered under sane circumstances ( thumb wrestling masks? Run DMC action figures?).
But I ran the numbers this morning and I saved $110.
I'm as shocked as you are. And my coupon-clipping husband has now dubbed this 'tradition' and can't wait for me to do it again next year.
I'll mark it on my calendar in pencil. And remember to bring a helmet.
Black Friday alternatives:
Contributing Editor Erin Kotecki Vest also blogs at Queen of Spain blog
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