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TU Global: Black Fright-day

1 December 2013 By Jake Ulick, columnist One Comment

I’m not exactly sure how I’d feel if I was getting in line at 1:26 a.m. in front of Walmart so I could get that new video game that I just had to have with my parents’ money while in the meantime, employees were staging a protest for better wages and benefits from the nation’s largest private employer.

Actually, now that I’ve finished that sentence, I’ve realized that I think I’d feel like a socially awkward donkey.

Such is the controversy of Black Friday…for me at least. However I did not participate this year not for some snobby, intellectual, “screw corporate America” type-reason but just because I had a rather bad experience two years before.

My family had Thanksgiving in Manhattan that year like we usually do and after our feast, my cousins and I decided to go to Macy’s (in New York) right before it opened at midnight.

We waited in line with what seemed like a large amount of people who had money to expend on things, not because they needed them, but because they were new that year. After waiting for an hour we finally got in and there was not a floor tile that wasn’t covered by two feet.

Not only could we barely move but there was absolutely nothing worth buying! That’s in my case at least. Everything that I found that I potentially wanted was still outside of my holiday price range. It seemed like any regular day at Macy’s where the shirt with the little guy on the horse logo that guaranteed you instant coolness was still more than $50.

We went to other clothing and electronic stores that night and still, I came back empty-handed. I felt like a bad millennial American or like something was wrong with me.

And since then, I have not been a Black Friday partaker. No, I’ve been a part of another stereotyped category of people: those who lay in bed the morning after Thanksgiving watching the news, shaking their heads at the reports of people being trampled, stabbings over parking spots, fights between swarms of people over DVD players, seeing people your own age walking out with bags full wondering what in the hell they could have possibly bought.

But you also wish you could have participated, wish you wasted just as much time on video games as that guy so you could justify such purchases.

This year, people of that category (including myself) were probably also watching as multiple protests unfolded at Walmarts across the country.

Employees gathered, protesting the fact that the company brought in $17 billion in profits last year but paid two-thirds of its workforce a salary of less than $25,000 a year in addition to the fact that the family owning more than 50 percent of the company also happens to be worth more than $144 billion.

A congressional report also found that at one particular location, taxpayers had subsidized the company’s workers with close to $1 million in different welfare programs because of their poor wages.

Black Friday really just isn’t for me. Even if I did have something that I “desperately” needed to buy, I couldn’t handle the protests, the fights, the trampling and the crowds. But it sure is great to watch it unfold from home. And lucky for us, Black Friday shopping is often used as an economic barometer for the holiday season. And since people are fighting over DVD players, at least we know that business is booming.

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