The baffles of Black Friday

Black Friday baffles me. I can’t imagine getting up at the crack of dawn to stand in line outside of Best Buy, and I consider myself a thrifty shopper. I’m just not that committed, and that’s what Black Friday at Best Buy requires: commitment. Think about it. You probably would need camping chairs, blankets, snacks. Maybe a tent and a group of people to take shifts, and a deck of cards would not hurt either. The prize is that 40-inch flat screen that you could get for $179.99. Doesn’t that sound like a sweet deal?

I guess it does, but  I just don’t think it is worth 164 hours of my time. That’s how long a family from California spent waiting for Black Friday at a Best Buy parking lot, according to the LA Times. That’s almost seven days.

Now, that’s commitment, and I just don’t have it in me.  I keep thinking of what I would be giving up in order to do it. What if it rained? Who would feed my cats? Would I have to take time off work? What if I worked a full-time minimum wage job? How much money would I forgo?

Well, if I took only three days off at minimum wage, I would be out $174 before taxes. That’s almost the cost of that flat screen. Of course, I could consider it a vacation.  The family in that LA Times article does. I imagine how I would break it to my significant other. I’d probably say, “Honey, I have a surprise for you. You always said you wanted to go camping. So, let’s camp out at La Cantera. I hear Best Buy has a 40-inch flat screen for $179.99.” There is no initial response. Choice expletives follow.

Pondering the wait time is bad enough, but that’s not the worst. No, the worst part of Black Friday would be the people who go nuts for a $2 waffle iron.  If you’re wondering whether people would actually do that, don’t wonder. It happened last year, at a Walmart in Arkansas. Gawker called it the Great Black Friday Two-Dollar Waffle Iron Riot.

Although 2012 was tame by comparison, Black Friday’s track record for incidents is pretty solid in my mind, especially because now anyone with a phone can record egregious behavior and post it on YouTube. That’s how I learned about the Black Friday pepper spray over Xbox scuffle of 2011. This year, though,  the scariest incident I read about involved a line cutter, fisticuffs and a concealed firearm, properly licensed. Yikes!

For all of these reasons, I prefer Cyber Monday. I don’t have room for a 40-inch flat screen anyway, but I can always use some new T-shirts emblazoned with quirky pop culture references.

Happy holidays, everyone! See you next year.

Cyanara Medina is a visiting professor in the department of communication.