It was late. Thanksgiving Day had morphed into Thanksgiving night, which, in addition to not being capitalized, is also something of a downer, generally speaking, but especially when the entire holiday was spent working outside and the only meal anyone in the house enjoyed had been pancakes made seven hours earlier. There may or may not have been a mess left on the counter.
The conditions were perfect for talking myself into the pursuit of bargains and Black Friday deals despite the fact that it was still Thursday and the day had appeared a little more brown and orangeish. I had looked through every ad in the paper and found a few deals that justified my slipping once more into the fray.
The deals were for toys that the boys had asked Santa for, but I thought I might find a price so low that the big guy would understand. Unfortunately, they were at a store that I avoid for a great number of reasons, but I decided to make an exception. Basically, my morals can be compromised for 50% off a Skylander Giants set. We all have our price.
I put on a sweater, took a sip of coffee, and drove 15 minutes to find the store packed with people taking it much more seriously than myself. They were prepared for the hours required by winding lines, low prices, and the staggered time release of bargain after bargain. I was prepared to get the hell out of there as fast as humanly possible.
I found everything that I was looking for, plus a few food items that my wife had text to me, the buying of which seemed to raise a few eyebrows—apparently buying apples during a crazed sales event was beyond the comprehension of the masses.
Despite the store being open, the registers did not release the hounds of savings until a set time. Therefore I had to join a few hundred of my closest strangers in the waiting game, which consists mainly of eye rolls, small talk, and lots of silent judgments. Some people are better at the silent part than others.
I paid my due diligence, which I was okay with since I would be paying so little cash, and I smiled broadly when I got to the register. That’s when I noticed that the toy I held in my hands was actually made for the Wii U, and not the original Wii that we had at home. My heart shrunk three sizes that night.
I glanced at the line behind me, which was roughly twice the length of the store. I explained my mistake to the cashier. Her look of apathy would surely make her the queen of hipsters everywhere. It was pretty impressive. I paid for the apples and a few other items, took them to my car, and braced myself to go back into the belly of the beast.
This time in the shelves were picked bare and I saw two different women screaming at two different people about places in line and their mommas. There wasn’t a Skylanders Giants set to be seen, and I paced between every aisle, including those between the cashiers, in hopes of a discarded Christmas miracle.
I drove home in the company of disappointment and the hollow echo of first world problems—wondering what in the world I had been thinking, and hoping that Santa would fare far better than I did.
Read more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).