Brave Holiday Ninjas, I Salute You

A Dexter mom reflects on her career in retail during Black Friday.

The holiday season is an interesting process, for lack of a better term. One day, the kids are clowns and vampires running feverishly from one house to the other literally begging for candy and then, boom, it’s time to talk turkey.

The lead up to Thanksgiving is so subtle and almost uneventful. It sneaks up quietly, the buzz of preparation doesn’t come to a head until a couple days before the big day of feasting and thanks.

I was at Meijer yesterday and spotted at least 12 turkeys loaded into carts, headed to their final destinations. Other than the turkey parades at local grocery stores, I don’t hear as much about Thanksgiving prep as I do about Christmas. Sure, for a couple weeks I get the occasional query about plans for the big day, but there isn’t nearly the hoopla that ensues the day after the big day. 

You know what I mean -- Black Friday, the day millions set their alarms for obscenely early wakeup times and, armed with bloated bellies, sweltering cups of joe, bags under their eyes and a list of objectives, venture bravely into the sea of door-busting bargain hunters.

It is almost cruel to refer to Black Friday as a day for shopping. This, my friends, is not a day to shop. This is not a day for rookies, wimps or the indecisive. If you aren’t running into the stores knowing the exact coordinates of the items you covet, you are out of your league. This isn’t a day to meet a friend for a leisurely coffee or lunch at the mall. This is a day for pros, and if you can’t run with the big dogs, you need to stay on the porch.

I worked in the retail jungle year round for many years. I loved most things about working with the clothes and the customers. But there were two things we all hated: the arrival of the "required" music tape from corporate that mandated we play "Frosty the Snowman" before we even knew what we wanted to be for Halloween and Black Friday.

I reported to work at 3 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving, donning my stuffed belly, fat pants and most festive and fashionable Christmas garb. When the doors swung open at 4 a.m., I wasn’t greeted with even a hasty "hello," I was mowed down in most cases by hunters with laser-beam focus. If I wasn’t the item they were hoping to put under the tree, I was invisible, at least until they needed me to scale the shelves like a spider monkey to find the right size.

It was ugly out there folks, especially when the hunters were so starved for deals and, due to the ridiculously early hour, had no child care options and brought the kids along. That added a whole new dynamic to the fun, festive kickoff to Christmas.

My time in the retail world drove me away -- far away from the malls on days such as these. You won’t see me amidst the crowds of holiday ninja elves. I know when I have met my match.

I salute those of you who brave it, who know what you want and go for it, despite the lack of sleep or loss of sanity. I’ll be nestled in bed in my fat pants, clutching my Christmas list, waiting until it is safe to go back out.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Marcia Henke Mitchell November 25, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Love it! So thankful I stayed in my warm, cozy bed and missed the mayhem, mean people, and selling scams...
Christy Vander Haagen November 26, 2011 at 04:37 AM
I am with you, sister!


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