Like it or not, here in America in the 21st century, there are two kinds of people.
First, there are the kind of folks who frown and snicker condescendingly when they hear the words “Black Friday.” They are the holiday Scrooges who don’t know what it’s like. They think they know. They think that it is among the most pathetic and ridiculous things they have ever heard of, this notion to stand on long lines in parking lots through the frigid Thanksgiving night, just to be swept along at midnight or 6AM by a human tidal wave of everything that is wrong with the modern world.
Those kinds of holier-than-thou people see Black Friday and all that it stands for as a singular metaphor for the slowly burning conscience and soul of the human race.
They don’t know what they’re missing!
And if you don’t believe me, then just go ahead and ask any battle-scarred veteran of Black Friday, someone who knows the sort of electrical taste that pops into your mouth, all sparks and current banging against your inner cheek when you are all alone and clinging to the final 50-inch LED flat screen TV on aisle 9 in a suburban Toledo Walmart while an army of zombies tries to get it from you like some crazy episode of The Walking Dead.
Go ahead and ask one, I dare you!
I dare you to ask a seasoned Black Friday pro what it feels like to be flapping like a flag out on the wind-leveled battlefield, your Thom McCanns flailing and kicking other people in the eye as they try and horse the treasure in your arms away from you, as your body is thrust forward toward the check-out counters by some bizarre tornado of fortune and dedication, the very savings you are about to encounter shooting out of the TV and into your chest like a pair of those heart attack shock pads keeping you alive!
Over your dead body, you tell them. “OVER MY FUH-REEEEEEEEAKIN’ DEAD BODY!!!!!” you scream.
Look, everybody has their own idea of what the American Dream really means, what it really is.
To some, it means taking a stupid nature hike or whatever on the day after Thanksgiving.
But to others, it means crawling across a mountain of honorable fallen comrades under a relentless halogen sun at dawn and saving $16 on a $120 soda-stream thing that will soon die an unused death under a kitchen sink (next to an exiled popcorn maker that looks like an old-fashioned red wagon or something).
And so hear this. For those about to shop, we salute you.
Here are some valuable “tips” on just how to win Black Friday.
Shop hard or get out of the way 1 of 17
Click through for some expert advice on how to conquer Black Friday like a true pro.
Ignore others 2 of 17
Inevitably, someone you work with or someone at Thanksgiving dinner is going to act all high and mighty about the fact that they are going on a really long, grueling nature hike on Black Friday. They will tell you they wouldn't be caught dead shopping that day, that they would rather perish than buy into the rampant commercialism and consumer exploitation that the day after Thanksgiving really brings. But whatever. Eight years ago on Black Friday you scored six deeply discounted George Foreman Grills at Bon-Ton. Now, who's laughing?! So continue to ignore the naysayers. Nature is dumb, anyway.
Go easy at Thanksgiving dinner 3 of 17
Do you want to stuff yourself like a juvenile wild boar at Thanksgiving dinner or do you want to be as fleet-footed and light as a gazelle leaping gracefully toward major markdowns? And no, you cannot have both. Pig out at the dinner table and you will be in a deep food coma while the real shoppers are shivering in a long line next to the port-a-potties outside of the mall. Eat one drumstick, a carrot, and a single glass of water with no ice in it and you will wake up hungry like the wolf at a ridiculously early hour, which is the whole idea.
Let go of your pride 4 of 17
Laugh all you want, but do you think that the legends of Black Friday, the ones who, year in and year out, score the best savings and end up with credit card debt up to their eyelids because they are so darn awesome at navigating the predawn crowds, do you actually think that those people take a minute or two from their shopping to just pop on into the bathroom to take care of business?! Heck no!!! Don't be proud.
Make a transportation contingency plan 5 of 17
It's Black Friday, you're heading toward the shopping and all of a sudden, BAM!, you hit an ice patch and skid off the stupid road into a river. Ugh. Perfect. You swim back to shore in the shivering black of night and make sure you still have your wallet, but now what? Well, that's where contingency plans for transportation come in to play; all Black Friday vets have them and you should too. Basically, when panic sets in and all seems lost, shoppers have two choices: either you take someone else's car (or riding mower) OR, you hoof it. Just get to the stores!
Prepare yourself for the crowds 6 of 17
This goes without saying, but just in case this is your first time heading out into the Black Friday
abyssmagic, be prepared for the kind of surging, rambunctious crowds typically associated with cities that have recently won a major sporting event and that are currently burning to the ground in riotous tribute to the hometown team. This isn't your grandmother's Christmas shopping, where granny takes the trolley into Bedford Falls to buy three measly peppermint sticks for the grandkids and a fatty goose for Christmas supper. Oh no. This is the big leagues, people, the house of pain. So be ready.
Don’t stray from the line 7 of 17
Listen closely, my friends. If you have arrived at the sight of a Black Friday Mega Sale and are treated to the sight of an unoccupied Port-a-Potty, then you may be certain that you are indeed, quite tragically, far from where you ought to be. So know your entrances and know exactly where you're supposed to stand like a sad sheep long before the store doors open. As long as there is a very long line of half-frozen people with glazed-over eyes sipping styrofoam cups of Taco Bell coffee stretched out before you, you'll know you are where you are meant to be.
Don’t get trampled 8 of 17
At some point, at midnight or whenever, an air horn will sound off and the doors to breathtaking savings will swing wide open. That is when things get real, when everything you ever learned about "The Golden Rule" goes up in a vapid puff of consumer smoke. It is, frankly speaking, GO TIME, and there is nothing standing between you and epic discounts but human flesh. Be wise, be brazen. If at all possible, line up behind the elderly. But DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT get within thirty feet of anyone on a store-issue electric motor cart. Trust me.
Don’t be a hero 9 of 17
Look, when you're talking about cashing in on deeply discounted merchandise and there isn't enough for everyone, the harsh reality is that some people are going to go down. It's just a fact of life. Bodies will litter the proverbial highway upon the journey to the Checkout Kingdom. If you want to stop and help pick them up, you know, so they aren't trampled by the ruthless masses, then be my guest. But don't expect anyone to think much about your actions since there will be no witnesses at all. Everyone else will either be on their way to filling their carts or they'll be unconscious, knocked under a rack of Duck Dynasty nightgowns.
Do the zombie! 10 of 17
When you are in the middle of a medieval march toward the prize and your fellow shoppers are ruthlessly trying to beat you to that last iPad Air, don't be afraid to employ the very tactics employed by zombies. Growls, grunts, horrific breath, massive invasion of personal space, and yes, even biting/chewing (you didn't hear it here!) are all tactics that may seem barbaric at any other time, but which are par for the course come Black Friday. Remember, the more other people are afraid of you and repulsed by you, the better the shopping experience you will have.
Play dirty 11 of 17
One of my more original tips for stopping your tired, hungry competition in their very tracks is something I call, "Magic Slices". Basically what I do is carry a backpack with me when I'm shopping, and in the pack I have a bunch of cold slices of pizza wrapped in foil. When the going gets really tough and weird, I just break out a few slices, put them on a paper plate, and slap them down on the floor of the store. Then I wade out into the chest-deep savings while other shoppers stop and stare at the food and wonder if it's free.
Employ decoys 12 of 17
Of course, if you really want to be at the very tip top of your Black Friday game, you need to think of foolproof ways to make hundreds of people stop running through the aisles like the bulls of Pamplona. Not so easy to do, but there are ways. Decoys are one way. If you want to win Black Friday at all costs, and rake in more merchandise than you even have any remote use for, utilizing decoys is one way to do it. Hire actors to act like they are breaking up in loud, dramatic style right when the doors are opening. Or arrange for several friends to be planking strangely in heavy foot-traffic areas. Not all your competition will stop to stare and take cellphone pictures, but you know a lot will.
Break some rules 13 of 17
Sometimes things get out of hand; you get tripped up, sabotaged to the tenth degree by uncivilized animals racing you towards the last of the $22 portable DVD players; you need an emergency plan, something to help you get back on your feet when you are lagging behind and missing out on the deals of a lifetime. At times like this, you need to know where the store's on-floor intercom stations are and then you need to go to an empty one, pick up the receiver like it's ringing in your own kitchen, and casually announce , "Attention Black Friday shoppers, we are now featuring Beats by Dr. Dre headphone gear for just $19.99 over by the fishing equipment. Hurry! Supplies are limited!" Then just go get whatever you need to get, as long as it isn't anywhere near the fishing stuff.
Go BIG 14 of 17
On Black Friday you are a fool if you load up on stocking stuffers and small gifts. This is the day to reel in big fish, people! This is the day that the real tunas get caught! And sure, maybe you don't actually need a massive-screen TV or new iPhones for the entire family, but who cares, right? This is Am-er-ic-uh! And today is your day to crawl under a landslide of bittersweet credit card debt if you want to. So go big or go home, folks. And don't second guess yourself unless you notice that the police or the IRS are actually physically chasing you.
Bring a true friend 15 of 17
Just in case things do get a little "spirited" while you are shopping on Black Friday and you end up in the grip of the long arm of the law, it helps to have a friend along. This way, while you are tending to the business at hand down at the local precinct, your friend can be doubling up on merchandise in true Christmas spirit, one for them/one for you. But, then again, I wouldn't count on that either.
When all else fails, remember … 16 of 17
Sometimes, nothing works out like we hoped it would on Black Friday and we are left clutching nothing but a bunch of feathers from the big catches that got away. I know it hurts, but keep your chin up, my friend. No, you won't be able to say you cashed in on the very best deals this year; in fact, by the time things started running smoothly for you you were scraping the bottom of the gift-giving barrel. At times like this just try and remember that (gulp!) it's the thought that counts. And also, try not to look your loved ones in the eye when they see that you have given them the new Sarah Palin book this year. Seriously, just avoid all eye contact at that point.
Remember how lucky you are 17 of 17
Finally, take a moment in the hustle and bustle of your sweaty, rushed, and actually painful day to remember how lucky you really are to live in a country that has Black Friday the way we do. Because pretty much everywhere else in the world has yet to catch on to this wonderful way to kickoff the holiday season. In London, Rome, Moscow, or Paris, they will be moving at a slower pace that day, completely oblivious to the radical hot mess you have become on the other side of the world. Oh well. Their loss. Happy holidays, my little crazy spenders!
You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.
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