By Anne T. Donahue
You don’t need another think piece about Black Friday. You know that it’s a sometimes-terrifying event our society has created and perpetuated, and that capitalism is the reason why we’re forced to line up and rush out for products that are too expensive as-is and are used to define our worth and relationship with friends, family, and anybody in-between. (Whew.) It is, in short, what it is. No one is above it, no one is below it, and I will absolutely be buying discounted jogging pants because I like them, I want some, and I know they will bring joy into my life.
So that in mind, here’s how to prepare yourselves for Black Friday. You can do it, we can all achieve greatness, and if you don’t want to participate, you don’t have to, nobody’s making you, order takeout and watch TV.
Remember: salespeople are people
Can you believe this bananas piece of information I’m relaying? The news that salespeople are human beings? Of course you can! You’re great and smart and know that people are people. But that said, those of us who’ve worked in retail know that not everybody knows this or they maybe forget this fact when the one thing they’re looking for isn’t available for purchase anymore. Which, admittedly, sucks. But guess what: the person looking for whatever-you-want but can’t find it isn’t the president of the company. They didn’t buy up all the merchandise to spite you. They’re at work and this is their shift and that’s pretty much it. Are you still upset? I understand! I’m upset all the time. Meet me in the parking lot, and we can stress eat the snacks I brought in my bag. Sales associates needn’t endure our wrath.
Remember: you’re worth more than what you’re buying
Here’s the thing about Black Friday: it enjoys basking in the rhetoric that it is the last chance to purchase the one thing that will bring joy to your loved ones over the holidays. First of all, it’s probably not. Second of all, so what if it is? Maybe you won’t be able to get the gift you wanted for the person you wanted to delight by Christmastime. But if that’s the case, it’s still fine. Nobody rational or wonderful would ever get angry over a lack present because presents are an optional, nice thing. They’re a bonus to love and friendship and memories, and even if you’re still hell-bent on buying a bunch of Beanie Babies for that special someone, anybody worth knowing will understand if and when you say, “I couldn’t find all the Beanie Babies on the list, but as soon as I find them they will be yours.” Just remember the bears are the best ones.
Remember: if you don’t want to endure Black Friday, don’t!
Between us, I don’t even have anything to add outside of this. So, if the idea of going to the mall or to a big box store or to any place that’s offering Black Friday deals stresses you out, fuck it. Don’t go. Your time and mental health matters, and if you already aren’t partial to crowds, then this isn’t the time to test your endurance for lots of people looking for lots of things at the exact same time. Also, you can shop at independent retailers, at craft and maker shows, or simply shop online. Just because something is happening doesn’t mean you have to do it. This is the line I stick to during music festival season, and it is the piece of advice I’m giving to you now.
Remember: it’s shopping, man! It’s fine!
Shopping can be stressful and brutal and there is always a point in a mall visit when it’s tempting to just dump out the contents of your bag, scream, and then insist on buying an entire bucket of Laura Secord that you force everybody to watch eating with your hands. So let’s both remember this: it’s shopping. It’s shopping at a store or the mall or a market. You can stay as long as you want and you can leave when the moment suits you. Maybe it gets to be fun! Maybe you’re getting up early and are going to snack and drink coffee, bless us everyone. Or maybe you will try to make it a day and then abandon ship as soon as you realize you can’t find a parking spot, which I have done many times and will do again. Either way: shopping. That’s it. The acquisition of goods. Merely promise me that if you shop, you buy something for yourself because you deserve it. And also because I want to feel better about exclusively shoping for myself until roughly December 23.