Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

I don’t know when people began calling the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday.

Wikipedia has several opinions on the subject, none of which helps much. Some say it refers to a financial crisis dating back to 1869. Others tell us the term was first used in 1965 to describe a horrendous traffic jam in Philadelphia the day after Thanksgiving. In 1975, also from Philadelphia, bus drivers report hordes of shoppers were causing traffic congestion on the day between Thanksgiving and the Army-Navy game on Saturday. All these explanations are ridiculous.

A more plausible explanation is that one year, contrary to expectations, sales the day after Thanksgiving were very good. This put retailers in the black and led to a profitable Xmas shopping season. Thus “Black Friday.” The trouble with this theory is that when most people hear Black Friday, they think it means something negative.

Okay. So much for getting to the bottom of it. Do I care? No, not at all. I rarely buy things in large stores. I go out of my way to avoid crowds of shoppers. I don’t salivate at the thought of big savings. The prospect of competing with overweight women in narrow aisles hell-bent on snagging the hottest fad for their little darlings has all the allure of bouncing between Dante’s Fourth Circle of Hell (Avarice) and his Seventh Circle (Violence). Arrghhh!!

One of the great gifts of the 21st Century is Internet shopping. I sit in the quiet of my office. At my own pace I search for what I want. I can compare quality and price from sellers around the country – or even around the world. A few clicks later and my job is done. A few days later the doorbell rings and my package is here.

And I can do it all on Black Friday if I want. Now that’s Nirvana.


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