I am 41.
My daughter is 10.
Last year around this time, she asked whether we could go observe Black Friday at the peak of its madness.
“Next year,” I said.
“Really?” she replied.
“Sure,” I said.
Next year has arrived. She hasn’t forgotten. So, this Friday morning at 12:01, we will drive out to the nearby Target and watch America at its absolute worst. Hopefully nobody will get trampled and killed reaching for the last iPad. Hopefully there will be order and decency and cooperation. Hopefully … nah, scratch that.
Obviously, I don’t want people to get killed. Or hurt. But I do see this as a valuable opportunity to teach Casey about greed, and the ugliness it breeds. I’ve told her about Black Friday, but I’m thinking it’s something totally different to behold in the flesh; the pushing and shoving and elbowing, all in the name of attaining some plastic material possession that no one truly needs. I’ve made clear to her that we’ll hang on the perimeter; that they will be absolutely no purchasing or feeding the animals. She’s agreed.
What bothers me most about Black Friday, to be honest, is that it toys with and manipulates the low economic classes among us. I assure you, the people forced to work Friday night won’t be the CEOs and human resource directors and publicists. No, it’ll be Joe, the kid who takes the 40-minute bus trip from the Bronx to White Plains to make $9 per hour. It’ll be Sally, the single mother raising three kids in her Tulsa apartment. Target and WalMart and Best Buy all depend on their low-waged employees to survive. They also depend on Black Friday Madness—which features, mostly, customers who need the sale prices to makes dreams come true this Christmas. So, with little exception, you have poor workers catering to poor shoppers—as the stock holders and executives nestle beneath their covers, dreaming of large profits.