Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, and once again I have avoided participating in either. Not necessarily because I am a Scrooge, although I have been accused of being so, but rather because of the chaos and often the lunacy that accompanies the shopping events.
I am a true believer and supporter of capitalism and thriving economy, but seriously? When fist fights break out among shoppers at Walmart because there was only one ZOOM-A-FOOS remaining, and it slipped out of the grasp of someone because granny was faster on the draw, that’s a bit much. I am really surprised that some bright producer hasn’t developed a reality show based on the craziness of Black Friday shopping.
Two dear, somewhat elderly widowed friends named Cledus and Eustis have been radio pals of mine for years now, and this past Friday they had an experience at a nearby mall that will have their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren talking for years to come.
As it was related to me, the two met and carpooled to do the early morning Black Friday at about 4 a.m., stopped and enjoyed breakfast on the way, and much to their surprise were greeted by a massive 5:15 a.m. traffic jam trying to enter the parking lot at the mall. Once they were able to secure a parking spot, they stood in line for an hour just trying to get into the main doors of the mall. They would have been discouraged, but the television and radio told them of the tremendous savings to be found if they would just persevere. So, persevere they did.
Lines were incredibly lengthy and quite often physically challenging as they engaged in passive combat fumbling and grumbling with other like shoppers trying to pick up the last pair of support socks and catheters at the medical supply store. Cledus discovered that the lines were too long and taxing on his arthritic knees as he stood waiting to check out, so he found a courtesy wheelchair to sit in while awaiting his turn. Just then, some little seemingly defenseless grandma reached over his shoulder, buckled Cledus in the chair and rolled him and the chair out into the mall. Having unpaid for items in his lap triggered the store alarms and security arrived escorting both Cledus and Eustis to the mall office for interrogation. After an hour or so of explanation, they were released with instructions to never enter the doors of the medical supply store again.
Shaken but not beaten, the two trudged on to fill every item on their respective shopping lists. Stockings were filled with gummy bears for Wilma who has no teeth and won’t wear her dentures, a posterior inflatable cushion for George who is awaiting hemorrhoid surgery, reading glasses for Arthur who often mistakes his Preparation H for toothpaste and finally Black Friday Christmas Shopping was complete.
With a sigh of relief, Cledus and Eustis headed to the food court for a steaming cup of hot chocolate before heading home. Since this was their first attempt at braving the Black Friday crowds, the two felt rather proud that they had accomplished what they set out to do with, well, minimal damage.
As they began to exit the mall, Cledus and Eustis passed by Santa Claus Land and paused briefly, watching the glow on the faces of the children as they pulled on Santa’s beard, screamed in his ears, and kicked Santa’s elves in the shins. Upon witnessing those joys of the season, they stopped to admire the huge, beautifully decorated mall Christmas tree. Just then, two apparent tourists of Chinese descent approached the guys, speaking to them rather emphatically in their native language. Cledus and Eustis had no idea what the Chinese visitors were saying to them, so they just smiled and shook their heads in agreement and replied, “…and Merry Christmas to you too!” The Chinese couple spoke to them again and with smiles that would light up the night skies, handed Eustis a camera, and then ran over to stood by the mall Christmas tree. Cledus and Eustis looked at one another in utter shock wondering why that nice couple would give them such a nice camera. Thinking that it must be the spirit of the holiday, the boys just looked at the nice couple, waved and said “thanks!” Then they hopped on the mall shuttle for the parking lot.
Eustis peered out the window of the shuttle and said to Cledus, “Look Cledus, that nice couple is trying to run along side of the shuttle and waving Merry Christmas to us. At least I think that’s what they’re saying… Ooops! Now they’re throwing rocks. I wonder why?”
“Yeah, me too Eustis”, Cledus replied. “Must be their way of saying Merry Christmas in China. They are such nice folks!”
To follow some of the adventures of Cledus and Eustis, you can check out my website at www.HerbDayVoices.com.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. He can be heard Tuesday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon on 88.7 WOBO-FM and can be reached at [email protected]