Archive for December, 2008


This really was not my thing. Standing in a long line of people in front of the locked doors of a large department store, in the early-morning darkness, in the rain, and on a Thanksgiving Holiday to top it off! No. This really was not my thing!

It all began when my brother, who lived a few blocks from my parents in a city in another state, got in touch with me to say he was giving our folks a gift for Christmas of a year’s subscription to cable TV. Hey, all right! That was an unexpected act of generosity on the part of my younger brother, let me tell you. But, he went on to say that he thought it would be nice if I were to get involved. (I should have known something like this was coming!) He went on to tell me that the television our parents presently had was in very poor shape and it would be nice if they had a new one for that cable to be attached to. So that was it!

My brother continued by stating he had seen a newspaper ad that indicated a local outlet for a large chain store was having the “grand-daddy” of all sales within the next several days. The advertisement included a “limited number” of high-quality, name brand, 19 inch color televisions. He suggested that if I were to choose to be so kind as to purchase one of them for my parents it would be an excellent Christmas present from my side of the family. My brother knows how to put the pressure on—in a nice way, you understand. Since my wife and I were going to be traveling to the city in which my parents lived for the Thanksgiving Holiday, I could go to that sale!

He concluded his “presentation” with the real bad news last. The sale was on Thanksgiving Day, yet! Not only that, it was between 7:00 and 9:00 AM! I had to wonder if there were no holidays that were sacred any longer. And it is barely light at 7:00 AM! Aren’t you supposed to sleep in on holidays? My brother suggested that I might wish to be at the door of the store a “little” before 7:00 AM, so that I could purchase one of these fine electronic marvels for my parents. Why, it would make the entire year 2000 much better for them!

So, that is how I found myself standing in a long of people, a light rain sprinkling down on all but a small group fortunate enough to be standing beneath an awning over the doorway, wondering how long it would be before daylight would arrive. Some folks had planned ahead and had mugs of coffee and umbrellas. I determined they must be professional “door crashers.” They had come prepared!

As the hands on my watch crawled towards the unearthly hour of 7:00 AM, I began to count the number of people between the doors and where I was standing. It appeared there were about 50. A turn to look behind me, towards the end of the line, showed there were roughly another 150 people waiting for the “checkered flag” and the line was growing longer all the time as people came into the parking lot from all directions, some of them running towards the line as soon their feet hit the pavement.

As I stood watching and listening to people I overheard a lady say, “Are you here for one of the TV’s?” The reply was a mumbled, “Yup. That’s what I’m after. Wish we could have more than one.”

Then I heard another voice, “They say they are back in the middle of an aisle by the Electronics Department . . . . . . And they only have fifty of them.”

Say, now! That last comment grabbed my attention—only fifty? I counted the number of folks in front of me and, sure enough, I was real close to being number fifty. What if all those people in front of me were after television sets. This could be close!

Suddenly I heard the sound of keys in the lock of the doors and, at the same time, the line began to surge forward. I pulled my hat down over my eyes and began to move along with everyone else. No sense going against the current in a deal like this!

As I squeezed through the doorway with several other folks at the same time it became clear that this group of people were determined about what they were doing. As the group swept through the door and into a long left turn, some lay all restraint aside and began running up one of the main aisles of the store. Though I was unfamiliar with the layout of this business it did not take a genius to determine where the crowd was headed and I just rolled along with them, thinking to myself that this would not be a good time to trip and fall! Several people dropped out of the line to grab shopping carts and I suddenly found myself struggling to keep my place in the moving mass of people as a lady pushing one cart, and pulling another behind her, tried to force her way past me. Say, these people were serious about this!

The crowd of men and women roared into another turn, to the right this time, and headed down the stretch toward Electronics. Suddenly I realized I was meeting people who were going against the “current,” and they were packing huge boxes with pictures of a television set on the side. Hey, I must be getting close. Then I heard someone yell, “They’re going fast. One pallet’s gone already!”

Oh, oh. I realized the mass of people was slowing, while at the same time people seemed to become more focused in their determination to achieve their goal of getting a low-cost TV set. I looked over the heads and shoulders of those ahead of me and saw a huge mountain of boxed televisions sets that was disappearing with a speed that was utterly incredible. As I continued to struggle ahead I realized, in those tense moments, that I may have waited in the dark, and rain and cold for nothing. The boxes of televisions were almost gone!

Hmm. . . . . . I read a story this week about a scene very similar to the one I have just described. In that case, the hundreds of people who thronged into the store to find the best bargains failed to notice a man who was trampled by the crowd. Nobody went to his aid as busy shoppers continued their mad dash to accomplish their mission. At the end of the day, when the store manager locked the doors for the night, he was shocked to see this helpless victim. The person on the floor looked vaguely familiar.

It was later learned that the stranger trampled in the Christmas rush was a man named “Jesus.”

It is something to think about, isn’t it? Oh, by the way, my parents do have a new television set.

Read Full Post »