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The madness is over until next year.
The annual tradition of people trampling over each other to save $3 on a Barbie doll has passed.
The day that decent people turn into maniacs willing to behead someone even looking at that last X-Box in their hands is no more.
That’s right, I survived another Black Friday or should I say, Gray Thursday.
Now, for the most part, my above comments are in jest.
While you can definitely search You Tube and find shoppers punching each other out, my experiences have been fairly civil.
I’ve seen some customers be rude to tired, overworked employees.
I’ve witnessed carts accidentally (ahem) bump into each other.
But, most people just want to save a few of their hard-earned bucks no matter the long lines, late or early hours and ridiculous crowds.
This year, I really did not do as much shopping as I have in the past.
I went to one store shortly before 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving in an attempt to get a particular item for my wife.
My luck, the store let people in early and the stock was gone already.
I rushed to another location thinking there was no way my night was going to be successful.
When I entered the store, I asked an employee if the item was still available.
Her response, “Did you get a ticket?”
After realizing that she was not talking about a speeding ticket from the slightly over the limit speed I went to get to the store, I replied I did not have a ticket.
I was then ushered into a single line where customers were waiting to buy gifts for their loved ones.
I was told that once I got to the front of the line, hopefully they had the item I needed.
Fortunately, the wait was only about 20 minutes or so, but as I saw person after person get rejected when inquiring about a Kindle or another hot item they wanted, I started to lose hope.
Miraculously, the store had one left of the gift I wanted for my wife.
As I left the store, I glanced at the time.
It was 8:30 p.m.
Could I really have gotten my top present priority in less than 30 minutes?
Feeling good, I thought I would try my luck at Wal-Mart.
Last year, it took me about 30 minutes to find a parking spot at the huge chain store.
Once I did, it was about a five-minute walk to the doors.
This year was a completely different story.
Maybe it was because I came a little later, but I found a great parking spot and the crowd was relatively sparse.
I walked around for an hour without a cart, thinking I would only pick up a couple things.
By the time I went to check out, it looked like I had just been told that all I had to live on was whatever I could carry.
I must confess one of the items I picked up I took straight from someone’s cart.
My mom had already bought a life-size Superman figure for my oldest son online earlier in the day.
Knowing the anger my youngest was going to have when he saw the gigantic toy, I wanted to pick up a Batman figure for him.
Of course, there was a line of Superman figures, but Batman was nowhere in sight.
Accepting defeat, I went to check out when out of the corner of my eye I saw a figure calling out to me like the Bat signal.
It was standing tall in a cart next to the photo counter with no one around.
I looked around as if I was about to commit a crime to see if I could find who the cart belonged to.
Nobody was around.
When I walked up next to the cart, which also had a couple other items, nobody questioned what I was doing.
I stared at the time for about 10 minutes before I decided the cart and its inventory had been abandoned.
I grabbed the Batman from the cart and I did not run, but walked with a brisk pace to the checkout line.
The wait in line lasted less than five minutes.
In fact, a nice lady let me go in front of her.
As I lay my purchases down, I almost choked on laughter when my eyes peered at the floor.
Along with other last-minute discarded toys at the checkout, set a Batman figure.
I could not believe the irony.
After paying, I was done for the night.
As I have braved Black Friday the past few years, here are some observations I have made.
• I have always gone out by myself, not really by choice, but by default.
My mom goes with her sisters as a tradition and there is no way my wife is going out in that mess. There are not nearly as many guys willing to head out as there are girls.
• While the event can be stressful, I have always enjoyed seeing the groups that go out shopping and make it fun. They wear matching shirts. They map out a plan. They eat breakfast before hand. It seems like they are in the Christmas and family spirit.
• I do not entirely understand the exact concept of Black Friday. If the goal of stores is to sell as much product as possible, why does it seem like there are so many roadblocks.
Instead of fighting hordes of shoppers trying to get a deal that lasts a couple hours, it would seem to make better business sense to spread sales out. Less stress means more money.
• Finally, I realize that customers helped to bring about this trend, but I wish Black Friday would stay on Friday.
More than any other year, Thanksgiving and spending time with family was replaced with shoveling food down your throat so you could head to the stores.
This is unlikely to change as long as there are customers willing to line up after eating turkey, but it would be nice if the store took the initiative and put family first.
Don’t they realize their employees have families, too.
(Bryan Marshall is the staff writer at the Grant County News. He can be reached at email@example.com. This column is dedicated to my mom.)