How I survived Black Friday


Before I begin, let me give a quick heads-up to all my young male readers out there: Women can be persuasive. They can be very convincing when they want something from you. They have special, secret ways that are apparently passed down from generation to generation, grandmothers to mothers to daughters. They cast spells. They are sorceresses and enchantresses of the highest order. Oh, and it also helps to not look them directly in the eye.

So, be forewarned young men, and keep your guard up and your head on a swivel lest you end up in a place such as I.

So I let my girlfriend talk me into venturing out into the masses on Black Friday, just a quick in-and-out at Walmart. Although apprehensive, I eventually agreed. Hey, I figured, what the hell? What could it hurt? How bad could it be?

The answer, of course, is really really bad.

The first sign of trouble was the parking lot. It was full. After scoring a spot, however, we approached the main entrance. The second sign of trouble was the 20-something male that ran past us screaming, “Don’t go in there man! Don’t go in there!”

And then, I felt it before I saw it. The panic and anxiety emanating from the store was palpable, actually oozing from the entrance.

As we walked into the store I saw a scene that could only be described as total and utter chaos. Middle-aged women snarling and snapping at each other, grown men weeping, old men in obvious catatonic states, and frightened children in various stages of shock.

It was like a scene from a horror movie. Cries of anguish everywhere, people sweating, wild-eyed shoppers attempting to grab that hot deal on the last pair of Ladies Micro-Fleece Sleep Pants, which I presume are pajamas.

Immediately sensing impending doom, or at the very least being crushed by a 300-pound Vinton Countian bent on grabbing that last Barbie Dreamhouse, we made an executive decision. Let’s vamoose. Scram. Hightail it out of there. Run for our lives.

As we did, from the corner of my eye I saw a Walmart stocker stealthily crawling into the relative safety of a Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles storage bin.

In aisle 11, women were having a three-way tug of war over a George Foreman 5-Serving Removable Plate Grill.

Over near the pharmacy, a lady in her upper 80s dropped a much younger counterpart with a vicious atomic elbow.

Although it can’t be confirmed, there were reports of a woman being beaten with a Magic Bullet Express Blender over in home appliances.

It was a scene these eyes shall never forget, because well, some things simply cannot be unseen. The degradation, the greed, the overindulgence, the … smell.

It was too much for me.

As I staggered out into the light and breathed in the fresh air, I could only count my blessings that I’d survived the mayhem that was Black Friday.

Imprinted upon my brain is a vision of a young father I’d seen as I was making my escape. Our eyes met, albeit ever so briefly, and they haunt me still. I believe I saw his hand reach out to me, but alas, I could not turn back.

I wonder still if he made it out alive, or if he’s still in there, with his wife, searching for that hard to find Fisher-Price Superstar Step ‘N Play Piano for his 2-year-old.

I guess I’ll never know.

Dave Shoemaker is a retired teacher, athletic director and basketball coach with most of his professional years spent at Paint Valley. He also served as the national basketball coach for the island country of Montserrat in the British West Indies. He lives in Southern Ohio with his best friends and companions, his dogs Sweet Lilly and Hank. He can be reached at

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