By Anne T. Donahue
Black Friday is coming, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it. First, because that’s how time works. And second, please see my first point.
But this year, I refuse to fight it. I’m not bigger than capitalism and also, who am I to judge anyone who wants to buy something on sale? Bitch, I love buying things on sale. But my hatred for a crowded mall is bigger, so instead, I will stay home and complain later about having to buy my body butter at full price.
This is my cross to bear.
So in the spirit of you shopping and me, not shopping, here they are: the cardinal rules. If you’re planning to spend money tomorrow, follow them closely. And if not, still follow them closely because I am never wrong about anything, ever. Especially this.
Rule 1: Make sure that you do indeed want to Black Friday shop
Which is something I say because if you do not, you will complain, and everybody nearby will want to smother you in tiny, pocket-sized antibacterial hand gels. “It’s so crowded here!” is a revelation nobody gives a shit about, and nobody will offer you sympathy for. Do you know what Black Friday is? Do you know that it’s about buying things? Do you know that many people need and want to buy things? Yes? You’re already in the mall parking lot? Then your complaining ends here. Everything you endure going forward can be kiboshed by simply walking out to your car, getting into the car, and then driving away.
Rule 2: Eat
My God, eat. Eat your breakfast. Eat your lunch. Eat that granola bar you were keeping in your bag for a special day such as this. I, personally, am a demon when I’m too hungry. And if I were to unleash said demonic self upon the line-up at the Gap, I would scar those poor souls for life while I gnawed on fleece I didn’t really want, but am willing to buy because it’s a good deal. Since you’re not better than me, I know you would do the same. So eat a gorgeous, full, wonderful meal. Which I categorize as fries and gravy from New York Fries, accompanied by a healthy and terrific Dr. Pepper.
Rule 3: Leave the salespeople in peace, unless the request is dire
I worked retail for ten years, and I say this as someone who was not very good at her job, and was asked to stick to being on cash because I was borderline very rude when asked to do anything that wasn’t “Can you please right me through?”
But I digress. Do you need a size for real? Ask. Ask until your heart can’t hold your request any longer. But are you curious as to whether something is on sale? Even though you’re standing next to a sign detailing the specifics of said sale which includes (or doesn’t) the very garment you are holding? Are you chasing down someone who’s covered in jeans to ask whether the clearance is really clearance or just part of Black Friday, despite the entirety of the section consisting of clothes from summer 2009? Are you seconds from asking whether someone can check the back to see if a shirt there is only two sizes of is sitting back there, magically in yours? Are you holding an expired coupon up to the face a precious soul who just needs to make it to 4 p.m. so they can escape the deluge of Christmas music that’s been playing since November 1? Are you about to raise your voice? No. Stop it. Stop it now. You didn’t mean for it to be this way, but it is, and here we are. Buy a nice pair of socks for yourself, and then leave. Free yourself from this spider web and mouth “I’m sorry” to everything you’ve touched. You don’t want to buy anyone clothes for Christmas anyway. Unless you’re shopping for me. Because I will wear anything.
Rule 4: Do not limit your time
And when I say that, I mean: if you walk into a place and realize instantly that you don’t want to be in that place, fuck it. Go. You may have breezed past rule one. You may have feasted in the spirit of rule two. You may have just thought, “But I wanted to ask everybody I come across very stupid questions that I would never ask on any other day.” But now read this: even if you drove two hours to be at a mall, you can just not go into the mall. It isn’t personal. It’s not about shopping. It’s not about Black Friday. It’s simply about realizing what you are personally capable of. Me? I am capable of a very empty mall on a bright Monday morning, where I am alone to buy my treasures and exchange the Christmas cards I’ll never use. I am not capable of a crowd of over 50 people doing anything, let alone standing near me. And it isn’t their fault. It’s my fault. I hate so many things this year. But I don’t hate not wasting time, and if I pull into a parking spot and see a line anywhere for anything, I know that my journey has ended. Mere minutes into it.
Rule 5: Buy me something
But if you made it into the mall, hear this: I love things. I love being bought things. Buy me some things. It’s on sale, so what’s your problem? I’ll take pretty much anything. And I do so much for you. So please. Buy me something. Nothing too expensive so that I feel like I owe you something, but expensive enough that I’ll think of you buying said present and consider you a better person than I did before. This is what the holidays are all about. This is what Black Friday is all about. It’s also what I’m all about as someone who enjoys receiving gifts. And that’s the greatest holiday lesson of all.
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