Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tis the Season

It is almost that time. I can smell the ham, candied yams, fruit salad, and violence. That's right people! Black Friday is only two weeks away, and I want you to try and behave yourself this year. If the economy was tough last season, it can only be worse this year. People are looking for deals that can only be had by waking up before the rest of the world, lining up at your favorite superstore, and waiting for that sweet, precious moment when people will trample, beat, shoot, stab, or cart rob for that oh so special item your loved one has always wanted. I agree, the prices are harder to beat than the 300 pound woman swinging a broom stick in isle 5. But it is too early and hectic to me. And dangerous too! I am not making it up either. Last year, a Wal-Mart employee lost his life when the stampede of consumers broke down the front door, trampling him. "He was bum-rushed by 200 people," Jimmy Overby, the man's 43-year-old co-worker, told the New York Daily News. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too ... I literally had to fight people off my back." Oh there is more:

Shortly after midnight yesterday, an estimated 15,000 shoppers pushed and shoved their way into the Fashion Place mall in Murray, Utah. Police soon joined them, responding to reports of nine skirmishes. Once inside, shoppers ransacked stores, overturning piles of clothes as they looked for bargains. A retailer's dream — too many customers! — quickly turned into a nightmare, forcing store clerks to shut their doors, and only let people in after others left. The mall even briefly closed its outside doors to avoid a fire hazard.

At the Wal-Mart outside Columbus, customers dashing toward 5 a.m. deals pinned employees against stacks of merchandise. "Oh, my god, stop pushing me, oh, my god," screamed Linda Tuttle, a 47-year-old employee at the store.

The rush at Roanoke's Best Buy turned violent, just seconds after the doors opened at 5 a.m. NewsChannel 10 caught a man on video hitting someone over and over. Watching in slow motion you can see him hit someone at least 5 times.

The scene at many stores was part Woodstock, part Lord of the Flies, as hundreds hunkered for hours bundled in clothes, wrapped in blankets and holding coffee cups and crumbled newspaper inserts.

As the 5 a.m. opening at Best Buy approached, latecomers crashed the line marked by yellow tape, jockeying for pole position with people who stood in the cold for hours. Attempting to quell the crowd, a store manager jumped on a garbage can and threatened to call police. Store employees handed out tickets, entitling the bearer to one of the limited number of so-called "doorbuster" items. Many of those in the line circling the building had no idea that the front of the store was on the brink of chaos, or that items they waited for were already claimed.

An elderly woman and nine other bargain hunters were injured Friday in a rush for gift certificates dropped from the ceiling of a local mall. Some 2,000 shoppers rushed for 500 falling prize-filled balloons at the Del Amo Fashion Center, leaving nine with minor wounds and sending an elderly woman to the hospital.

This year's Black Friday shopping sprees were tinged with violence, as incidents on both coasts left shoppers wounded, or dead. The New York Post has disturbing video from the scene of the Black Friday Wal-Mart stampede in Long Island where one worker was trampled to death and four shoppers, including a pregnant woman, were injured and had to be hospitalized. "Police said about 2,000 people were gathered outside the Wal-Mart doors before its 5 a.m. opening. The impatient crowd knocked the employee, identified by police as Jdimytai Damour of Queens, to the ground as he opened the doors, leaving a metal portion of the frame crumpled like an accordion." Meanwhile, in Southern California, there was a Black Friday shootout at a Toys 'R' Us that left two men dead. Truly frightening.

All of these articles can be found easily on the web. Yes getting that gift for your loved one, or yourself is important. But not so important you need to harm yourself or others. Let us remember that Jesus is the reason for the season, and that gifts are just an added bonus. If you can't afford the item today, maybe you shouldn't buy it on Black Friday. But if you must, please for the love of mankind, do it peacefully. This is not just a day of "great deals" but another example of just how greedy We the People have become, and how far we will go to get what we want. Be smart, be safe, wear a flack jacket. I am predicting worse violence than last year.

Happy Holidays.

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