On the way home from a big Thanksgiving dinner with family I decided it would be fun to stop by the nearest Toys R Us and participate in some Black Friday midnight madness. My daughter has been wanting a Zhu Zhu pet for quite some time. We were going to be passing right by a Toys R Us anyway and the first 100 families get one. Since our daughter was spending the weekend with her granparents this appeared to be too good of an opportunity to paas up. After all, how hard could this be?
For a little bit of perspective our daughter has made it relatively easy for my wife and I on Christmas. Up until this year the toys she really wanted were not on any “Hottest Toy of the Year” list. We never had to worry about hitting early bird sales or fighting anybody to get what she wanted. Therefore I had no prior experience with Black Friday shopping which explains my naiveté.
My optimism was quickly dashed when we arrived at the store. Given that folks usually show up at least an hour before store openings like this I knew we were too late to be one of the first (we arrived about 15 minutes prior to opening). However I was gambling that all of the Thanksgiving turkey had everybody sleeping that night. I was wrong. Traffic around the store was a mess. I dropped my wife off as close to the store as I could so she could get in line. After fighting traffic (never fun but especially not at midnight) I was finally able to park and run over to the store. Here is the sight that greeted me when I arrived:
It may be hard to see but the actual line had formed off towards the back of the photo and stretched past the parking lot and down an access road (total length of the line was approximately 3 blocks). The people directly in front of me were either just watching the action or planning to cut in line (which by the way I learned later is a violation of Olathe city ordinance). Also not visible is the line of police officers up against the doors (apparently Olathe takes their line cutting ordinance very seriously).
What I did not know at the time was that my wife was surrounded by the group of “line cutters” fairly close to me. When the doors opened she got caught up the crowd that was pushing past all of the other people in line. Of course tempers flared and small skirmishes broke out. A little old lady even slammed her cart into my wife’s heel which was a bit uncalled for. Isn’t being forced to break a city ordinance by the crowd surrounding her bad enough?
I realized I had no chance of snagging Mr. Squiggles so I walked around the line taking pictures. As I walked toward the back of the line people looked at me as if to say to me “why bother…the store will be empty by the time you get in” As I walked back toward the front I got dirty looks (apparently I looked like a line cutting ordinance violator). One individual actually made a snide remark to me as I walked forward (and away from them). I reacted by turning and staring them down (I was too tired to engage in conversation). It was amazing how this person’s big mouth suddenly snapped shout at that point. To give you an idea of just how far the line extended here is the view from the back of the line:
Meanwhile, my wife was using Twitter to report what was going on inside while dodging parents behaving poorly (ramming carts into each other, dumping whole shelves of toys into their carts, and using plenty of “sentence enhancers”). I was trapped outside feeling both helpless and left out. After all, this was probably my only shot at ever playing bumper carts. I did briefly talk to her while she was inside and it sounded like fun (if you consider absolute mayhem fun that is). At that instant the song “Kung Fu Fighting” was stuck in my head where it would stay throughout the weekend (catchy song).
Once reality set in that all the good toys were long gone the folks standing in that nearly 2000 person deep line people calmed down and started being friendly again. I felt like I was surrounded by a bunch of Jekyll and Hydes. I think at that moment folks began to realize how absurd their previous angry behavior was and were trying to make up for it with kindness. I have to say I definitely admired them for their devotion to their children (except for the little old lady who slammed my wife with a cart…you are old enough to know better).
Toys R Us advertised that they would have Zhu Zhu Pets for the first 50 customers so I found myself standing in line at 6am for the store opening. This time my wife stayed home recovering from her cart injury. It was MY turn to play bumper carts (FINALLY). Unfortunately (for me) everybody there with me was behaving like adults and laughing so I didn’t get a chance to smash carts into anybody. However, I did get to hear stories from all of these Black Friday veterans about similar incidents happening at other places which was sort of a consolation prize. In return for my sacrificing sleep on a weekend I was awarded with Mr. Squiggles AND an accessory. No fighting, no slamming carts, and no sentence enhancers on this trip.
I wanted to share this story both to show how crazy people really can be and also to demonstrate my basic attitude on everything. I set a goal: get Mr. Squiggles. I put forth some effort to get it done (of course my wife did as well). I achieved my goal. If you know what you want and are willing to work to get it good things will happen to you: