No bargain is worth holiday shopping mania

Chuck Kurtz

Chuck Kurtz

When it comes to getting a good deal, well, I’m right there — at the head of the line if possible.

But you’ll never — NEVER — catch me pitching a tent on a concrete sidewalk next to a store front’s sliding glass doors days before the Black Friday sales begin, or in the case of this year for what now is being labeled Brown Thursday. Besides, it would be my luck I would end up not hearing the alarm clock, over-sleeping and then waking up to the sounds of people shuffling past the tent on their way into the store.

In my 63 years, I’ve taken part in two — just two — of what I have come to label as shopping hysteria calamity. The first one took place nearly 30 years ago at the Olathe Feeney’s Hallmark store. It was the big “sale” day after Christmas and wife Terri desperately wanted a Christmas tree ornament she was collecting that was to go on sale. Only she had to work.

So I “volunteered” to go buy it for her.

Daughter Jessica was barely walking and son Justin was 4 years old and when we drove into the Feeney’s parking lot, there were cars everywhere but only a few people lined up at the door. As we waited in the car for the doors open, more and more people — and I think all of them were women — began bunching up at the door.

“I think we better get in line,” I told the kids.

By the time they unlocked the doors, we were in the middle of a large crowd.  As the mob began to move, we had no control and no choice of our mobility. I held Jessica in one arm and grabbed Justin’s hand with the other telling him, “No matter what happens…Don’t Let Go!”

Once inside, it was a madhouse. Women, many of them “large” women if you know what I mean, were transformed into bulls in a china shop, pushing and shoving without regard or respect to anyone in their path in their quest for bargains. Their damn-you-all mentality quickly spread to other women “less large” and it seemed as if the entire store had been engulfed by this bargain mania warfare.

And the biggest throng had migrated to and now surrounded the Christmas ornaments — the very place where I needed to be. So with Jessica still in one arm, I picked up Justin in the other and said, “Hold on tight…We’re going in!”

How the kids came out unscathed is nothing less than a miracle. I, however, received elbows in the gut, purses into the groin, big boobs in the eye, my toes were continually stomped on and we were unmercifully battered by huge hips. Reaching the pile of ornaments, I put Justin down in front of me using MY hips as battering rams to keep him from being crushed while I reached into a swam of waving arms looking for the ornament Terri wanted for her collection.

After what seemed like hours, I caught a glimpse of the ornament. My hand fought off other hands as I dug through the boxes.

“I got it,” I yelled, and then about four flailing hands hit mine and I dropped it. Back into the battle zone I went to find it again. Once I did, I gave it to Justin, “Hold onto this tightly” and then picked up him up. Back through the mob of elbows, purses, boobs and hips we went, fighting our way to the checkout counter where we were able to wait in a line far from the mob that still existed around the ornaments.

We purchased the ornament and made it home safely, but I told Terri, “Never again!”

And that held true until last year when, after eating the Thanksgiving meal, Terri’s sister Janet talked us into going with her and her family to Wal-Mart, which last year opened its doors at midnight. We arrived and there was a line. But when the doors opened, the line turned into a mob.

Once in, I had flashbacks of the Feeney’s fiasco. People were everywhere, so many people I was stuck in an aisle and couldn’t move — even to get out! And along with elbows, purses, boobs and hips, this time I had to contend with shopping carts and people carrying large box items. I fought my way back to the front door where I waited for Terri.

“Never — NEVER — again,” I told her. “Never!”

Janet, et al, again were at our house for Thanksgiving for an un-traditional holiday meal of spaghetti, meatballs, and lasagna. Again, Janet, et al, began planning their bargain shopping strategy.

“You going?” Terri asked. “There are some cameras on sale, and I see some (fishing) waders on sale.”

“Uh…no,” I said. “You?”

Terri shook her head no.

With that, Janet et al left for their shopping excursions. Terri and I finished cleaning up the holiday dishes. Then she settled into her couch and I sat back in my chair. We watched some football, a movie and then the news, that showed coverage of people in long lines, shoving their way through store doors, using shopping cards and purses as battery rams and running through the store to get their bargain items.

“Aren’t you glad we’re not in all that,” Terri asked

I just smiled.

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