By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for body armor
It was a glorious Thanksgiving. After an eleven minute dinner, the guests were ushered out the door with a to-go-box and "Have a safe trip!" I had Buck Fever. The adrenaline was pumping. It was time to assemble my gear. Orthopedic arch inserts? Check. Water bottle? Check. Credit cards cleaned and oiled for quick sliding? Check. Chocolate M&M pretzels? Check. Cell phone charged. Check. Angry Birds loaded onto the ten teen's I Pod? Check and Double Check. I was ready to spend bucks to save bucks.
The object of my Black Friday hunt? A new trampoline with enclosure and padding. As Confucius, ancient Chinese philosopher and Businessman and the originator of the "Own America" campaign, once said "He who makes net and padding wear out same time as trampoline, only sell once." Or as his cousin Wing-a-Ding-Wan-Yo-Money Trump put it "Wise man make cheaper to buy two than to buy one even if one is all you need".
Having previously scouted out Wal-Mart, I knew the number of trampoline boxes available (48), where they were located (garden center patio), and time I could load (10 p.m.). To secure the most advantageous spot, I needed to be in position by 7 p.m., three hours before the season opened. Done, Done, and Double Done!
7:11 There is only myself and two other people standing by the pile of trampolines. I strategically place myself and my basket near a support post and the end stack of trampolines. A small crowd of three or four adults have gathered in the corner where about twenty 12 volt white convertible Barbie type cars are stacked two deep and three high. I pull out Angry Birds. Low battery. I begin to crowd watch and eves drop.
7:35 I become friends with a young man who's I.D. tag says "Event Staff". He seems fit and healthy and capable of loading a 200 pound trampoline in my buggy. I'll recruit him for later.
8:30 The crowd is increasing, notably the group milling around the 12 volt Barbie type cars and a new group around the Play Tyme Custom Kitchens just behind me. Strategies being planned. "Now be ready to go into action the minute it's 10:00. People will push, shove, and bite but hang in there, stand your ground. Use your cell phone for backup but only if you are losing the battle." I thought it was a security guard behind me talking on his walkie talkie but it was some Mom instructing her teenage daughter, a Black Friday novice. Several security guards are making a line of defense in front of the outside exit doors. The S.W.A.T team has arrived complete with flak jackets, walkie talkies on each hip and enough battery packs to power four mini TV's. This is going to be big.
8:55. The hairs on the back of my neck are tingling. The crowd is larger and shopping carts have been circled in a defensive formation around the Barbie cars and Custom Kitchens against late comers. I half expect to see Geronimo and his warriors come through the doors.
9:05 My M&M's are gone and half of my water. The crowd is shifting around restlessly. Some of the late comers are sporting intimidating t-shirts. One says "P_ss, Puke, Blood, Guts". I don't know if he is referring to shoppers who stood in his way in the past or if this is an indication that the turkey and potato salad had been left out too long earlier in the day.
There is enough cell phone action going on that I'm surprised Verizon isn't saying "I can hear everybody now." "Bravo One to Bravo Two. We have 12 volt convertible in range. Scanning the bar code now. Yes this is the best price. We have flanked the target on both sides. Over and out."
9:25 There are NO security guards in sight but several Alabama line backers have arrived to secure a Kiddie Custom Kitchen. I'm sure they will get one. There are now 20 Barbie type cars and 60 car-wanters… who can also count. I am digging in. This could get ugly and I don't mean just the view of my backside squashed behind a six inch support pole and a wall of trampoline boxes.
9:59. 5-4-3-2-1 START SHOPPING! I unsquash myself from behind the pole and fling my arms on top of my trampoline box. Some Granny next to me is jamming my shopping cart into my ribs as she wrestles her trampoline into her cart. No pain, no trampoline. An altercation is erupting in the Barbie car lot as I suspected. The Incredible Hulk is emerging from the car lot, probably due to the stress, and has two white 12 volt convertible boxes held high over his head. I can only assume he is divorced, has twin daughters visiting for Christmas, and this is the only thing they wanted. The SWAT team arrives, from somewhere, and handles the situation.
Within five minutes the garden center looks like a hurricane has blown in and swept the area clean. There is nothing left but three bicycles and me wrapped around my trampoline box. I hope my recruit shows up soon.
10:31 Target is acquired and secure in the back of my truck.
10:32 Replenished M&Ms and back in line for the three-in-one printers ready to go on sale at 12:01.
God bless free enterprise! Over and out!