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Remember the days when Black Friday shoppers were courteous and responsible and started shopping at a reasonable hour, such as 4:00am? And, all you males, remember when we’d stay home while the females shopped, so as to eat leftovers, drink beer, and have passionate, touching conversations about our dislike of potpourri?

Haha, just kidding! Those days never existed. Black Friday shopping is, and always has been, a contact sport.

It’s not rare to enter a Best Buy on Friday at 3:00am and see hoards of shoppers in helmets and pads, with certain seasoned grandparents coaching their family members with loving words of encouragement like, “Punch her so hard she drops the TV.”

There may as well be sports commentators offering, as they are apt to do, deep insights into the game:

Commentator #1: Betsy Miller is dashing down the aisle, the 60” TV precariously dangling under her arm. She looks to pass to her twelve-year-old in the checkout line.
Commentator #2: Did you know, Betsy Miller has never fumbled a TV when her team is ahead and it’s a leap year and she’s been drinking?
Commentator #1: Oh no! Her daughter got knocked down by a cashier.
Commentator #2: Talk about pass TV-interference.

The truth is, Black Friday shopping is treacherous, and men should always do the chivalrous thing and tag along with the females, to ensure that the women they love don’t, in their wanton enjoyment of the shopping process, pepper spray the entire electronics department.

As you likely heard, there was a woman in California who, not being able to get an Xbox at a Walmart, did the logical and mature action of pepper spraying everyone around her, causing mass chaos within the store.

Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured, although a few Adobe software products were treated for minor Flash wounds.

As I read this tragic and troubling story about consumerism and human depravity, I couldn’t help but shake with laughter. What exactly did this woman envision would happen? Did she expect everyone in front of her to think, “There’s pepper spray in the air, which is extremely, extremely painful. As this must be Walmart telling us to exit the building in a calm and respectful fashion, I shall do that.”

Maybe, but it’s more likely that the inevitable has occurred: years of playing Xbox has convinced us that violence is the only acceptable answer to solving our problems. Grand Theft Auto taught us it’s more fun to steal a car than take to taxi somewhere, Mario led us to believe that jumping on people’s heads is socially acceptable, and just try getting a K.O. on Mortal Kombat by ‘asking nicely’.

So can you really blame this woman? It’s a wonder she didn’t pull a Care Bear and hug them all to death.

As a side note, I honestly don’t know how these people are even able to shop at 10:30pm on Thanksgiving Day. By that point in the evening, most of my family has entered such a food coma that the younger kids start poking us with forks to test our reflexes. If we somehow awake from this comatose state, we only drool and mumble, “More pie please,” before slipping away to dreams of cranberry sauce rivers.

Anyway, this pandemonium over discounts has always been a paradox to me. I have unemployed friends who, after I let them know about a great job opportunity, react with the same excitement most people have toward irrigation laws. But when I tell them about a cheap bar with $1 beers, they act as if no news, including world peace or actually getting a job offer, could possibly be more interesting.

“We should go right this second,” they exclaim, to which I have to patiently remind them that it’s Sunday morning and I’m pretty drunk already.

My point is, people absolutely love buying expensive products (especially ones they don’t really need) at 15% off, even if 15% equates to just $20. But these same people don’t actively look for ways to actually save money, such as by simply not buying expensive items at all. It’s an incongruity that leads me to only one conclusion: by no means is this competitive shopping about the money; it’s about sticking it to the man. Whenever you buy that $100 undershirt for just $30, you can’t help but think, “Ha-ha, Calvin Klein, looks like you didn’t take advantage of me this time!”

Of course, the shirt did only cost $2.15 to make, but that’s beside the point.

There’s just a heightened sense of self-worth when you discover an amazing deal, an inherent satisfaction that transcends money and harks back to our hunter ancestors, who were always on the search and lucky if they could find a bear loin cloth at 5% off.

So maybe I shouldn’t judge bargain-hunters, and maybe I’ll be more active next Black Friday. But mark my words, I will never resort to using pepper spray to clear out a building. Smokes bombs are much more effective, and fortunately I know a place I can get them half off.

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Chris Shuptrine is a weekly columnist whose high-quality, hard-hitting journalism remains wholly absent from his articles.

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