I will go on record as saying that the worst day of the year to drag my bones into the office was always the Friday after Thanksgiving. Many companies consider that day a regular working day, which, technically, it is.
However, after the cleaning and the house guests and the feasting and the sleep deprivation, going to work on that particular Friday was always a heinous responsibility.
In recent years, Black Friday has become an American institution. The “black” refers to the accounting term “in the black,” since many businesses do a huge percentage of their annual volume between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Starting in the early 1960s, when the day got its name, stores have posted big sales in the hope of cashing in on the days-before-Christmas shopping. Of course, this being America, Black Friday started out being somewhat reasonable, but recently the day has morphed into a grotesque orgy of predatory shopping. Stores open earlier and earlier. People camp outside through the night, waiting for doors to open, then charge through the aisles in search of bargains.
In 2008, a crowd of our neighbors — local shoppers, some 2,000 strong — waited outside a Walmart in Valley Stream for the doors to open at 5 a.m. Some had begun gathering the night before. When the doors finally opened, the shoppers pushed forward, breaking down the door and trampling a 34-year-old employee to death. Published accounts said that other employees and rescue workers could not get to the injured man for some time because the crowds kept pressing forward through the doors. It was reported that shoppers said they couldn’t wait any longer to get inside.
Oh, yeah, shoppers across the country have pulled guns and occasionally shot one another. One woman used pepper spray to clear folks from the aisle where the Xbox 360 was calling her name. Some 20 fellow shoppers were injured in that incident. People have stomped, stabbed and stampeded their way to the latest Barbie and the biggest TV.