Had heard about Thanksgiving but never knew it was so big out here. People were planning for thanksgiving holidays for couple of months and shopping was the most integral part of the plan. The very idea of thanksgiving impressed me completely. Forget about the history (no I am not saying that’s not important) and look at today. America gets a federal holiday on this day to be with their families and ponder over the good things in life, count their blessings and thank God, people, pets, who made all the good things happen. Nice, isn’t it!
Ok, so thanksgiving is nice, and it is fun too. The fun part is the Black Friday shopping. Black Friday is the day after thanksgiving when almost all the big stores across the country open their gates at as early as 3 in the morning. Are you thinking who shops at that hour? Answer is EVERYBODY! There are people who queue up in front of the store from the evening before. All for the best deals that are available for the early birds. So if you want to see some real gate crashing, this is the time to go shopping.
Rochester, NY, the place I am living right now, is a cold place. Temperature has been negative for the last 40 days. There is a sheet of snow, I saw a snow storm recently, and all the locals come back to me and say – oh you have seen nothing yet! Not yet! Don’t worry you will see it soon! Not particularly encouraging I must say. Anyway, so this was the weather condition on the thanksgiving weekend also. So in office, in the middle of a project meeting, all of us were discussing who will go out for Black Friday shopping. People were sure that I will surely go. People who come here for a short while usually would not refrain from buying all the goodies that would be available at throw away prices. And I opened my mouth to let them know I had no such plans. I was not sure that I wanted to step out of my house at that hour of the morning / night / whateva in this kind of weather to buy anything. I had nothing at all on my agenda except for an external hard disk for my brother and a camera for my cousin. I was certain I wanted to buy those on Black Friday but may be at 10 or 11 in the morning. The sale goes on for the entire day. And anyway, there are only like 10 coupons for the early birds and I had no intention of standing all night in the snow to save money on something that wasn’t even mine. And then my Manager (from business) spoke up, “Hey I will tell you guys a small story about this Black Friday(BF) shopping. About ten years back my mom insisted on going for this BF shopping because she wanted to buy this stereo for my dad. It was a neat piece but was a little expensive. We checked the deals on the internet and it looked like they were running good discounts on them. So we decided to go to Best Buy the next morning. These guys were supposed to open at 5. So at 5 I reached there with my Mom, those people were opening the gates. I dropped my Mom at the entrance and went further to park my car. Parking too is a problem as there is an absolute ocean of people and sea of cars. After ten minutes I enter the store and make my way to the stereo section after being nudged and protecting myself from being run over, and what do I see there. There was just one piece of that stereo left there which my mom was pulling from end and another woman was pulling from the other. No one was decent enough to let it go. So the battle was on. And my mom finally won that battle when she pushed with such might that there was a roar out of her mouth. I could not believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe my mom was really doing that. Anyway, we came back home and I slept back, after pledging to never go there again on a BF”. Some of us were in splits but the majority in the room nodded as if to say – yes this happens! And that is when I decided that I am going to go for it. Who would want to miss this circus when this is perhaps the only opportunity when I can see it. I was certain about it now. Kapil came over for thanksgiving. Not that we were planning to celebrate thanksgiving as thanksgiving, but we just wanted to hang out over the four days weekend. How often do you get that? We chatted till late night, it was certainly much past midnight. I slept close to 2 and I could hear activity in my room at as early as 2.30. My roomie was getting ready to go shopping. I thought about it for a second, my hand was outside the comforter and I could feel the chill outside, I snuggled and slept of. After all this looked like the best thing I would rather do any day. In about an hour and forty five minutes, my phone rang. It was my manager. We all had planned to go out shopping the previous evening so he was checking which store I wanted to go to and he would have guided me which car I needed to get into. We colleagues had decided to go in three cars in three different directions and stay connected on the phone to let others know about any interesting deal available. Anyway, I picked the call and mumbled a hello. And looked like he was awake from three nights in the excitement of shopping on thanksgiving. He said a cheerful good morning and got a lifeless good morning in response. Hey Anu, you are still sleeping!! You don’t want to come along? Me..mm..i was thinking about it actually last evening (what a liar I am!) and I don’t think I want to buy anything, then whats the point going? Arre, till yesterday you were sure you wanted to see the mad rush and that’s all you wanted to be there for. Are you sure you want to miss this annual event? I pondered for a second and I said ok let me check with Kapil if he wants to come along. I called Kapil’s cell, he did not pick. I called again no response, again no response. He was in the next room, I could hear the cell ringing so loudly, but he was just not responding. I stepped out of my room and shouted Kaaappppiiiillll! Hmmm.. My friends are asking if we want to go for thanksgiving sale? mmm.. you go, I want to sleep. Are you sure? Ok.. wait I will also come along. And sleepy heads were on the way to Walmart. By the time we reached Walmart, we were so wide awake, because it looked like it was a big festival in town (it was!). As we were making our way into the store, we realized there were just two carts left, and there was a swarm of people flowing in. So we almost ran and grabbed the carts. There was triumph written on our face as we glided the two carts inside. Two carts. As if we were there to shop for comforters and mattresses. Everyone was eyeing at electronics, and so were we. What possibly would have required two carts is beyond anyone’s comprehension. Anyway as we entered we noticed that Walmart was packed with people. Choc-a-block inside all the aisles, and the numerous queues at the counter, everywhere. It was difficult to walk inside. And soon there was a big crowd behind us also. And soon I understood that the other two either elbowed some out, or got elbowed out as they were not to be seen. I wanted to look for them, but was finding it difficult to move. And then I had a cart with me. I realized it was a mistake to pounce on the cart. So I decided to call them. I tried calling Kapil. Beep beep.. (no ring).. beep..beep..no ring still.. beep..silent! Network jam apparently. Suddenly I saw Kapil coming from somewhere. He had something in his hand. “hey where were you? Whats in your hand?”. Pen-drive, 4gb, for 9$. He said and threw it in the cart. And he disappeared again.
I wanted to throw this cart that was causing such immobility. But it is against the etiquette to just leave it somewhere and go. So I dragged it and inched myself to the electronic section. I was met with an unimaginable rush there. And an enormous queue too to get inside those aisles. I waited there for a couple of minutes, and lost patience finally. I headed towards the household appliances section thinking about some good deal on kitchen appliances, or vacuum cleaner. But I was met with the same fate there also. It took me fifteen minutes to reach there, and another ten to come out of the place, without getting to even see anything. So here I was standing in the middle of mayhem with a huge and unwanted shopping cart, which had two pen-drives in it. Those two pen-drives in the cart looked really odd because the cart was big enough to hold 1200 of those. I had no idea where to go and what to pick. And then I looked towards the grocery section. On any other day the grocery section is the most crowded area in Walmart, but on this day it was completely deserted. Out of those n thousand people there, not even person was seen on this side. So I knew where to go! I went to that section, picked up a packet of bread and a can of milk. No there was no deal running on these! Had to make the most of this outing. Didn’t get anything better. And then I went and joined the queue. Kapil added a couple of towels to the cart while I was yawning my way to the counter. My manager Joy’s cart looked better than ours, much more fuller, but when he reached the counter, and started seeing the prices of items he picked solely on x% discount factor, he slowly started removing items from the billing desk. And then he was also left with some thirty dollars worth items. And this was our Walmart shopping on the Thanksgiving day. So much for getting up early on a holiday when temperature has dipped below zero and you went two bed just two hours before.
By the way, we halted at Staples to check out a deal on passport drives (external hard disks). It was heartening to see the deal was still on and there were some pieces left of those. So finally getting up early paid off. All three of us bought 320gb passport drives for a meagre 99$. And we were ecstatic, we struck gold! yeyyyy! Now it is another thing that now after almost a month of thanksgiving, when there is no sale running on electronics, the same piece is available for 79$. hmph!