mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Why Black Friday warms my greedy capitalist heart....

Every year, I wonder as a shopper if Black Friday is worth it. Every year I get to the store earlier, and still don't get the big cheap item. I wonder if it's worth doing it again the next year. Then again, as BSOM put it when I called him while in line at Circuit City, what else am I going to do - sleep?

And Black Friday is fun, in it's own sick sort of way. You get to meet the most interesting people - I spent part of the night talking to an elderly couple and their son, who works in TV production and lives in Brooklyn, and a young man who works at a local Starbucks - both who, like me, were hoping to get the laptop, and none of us who did. People shared snacks, seats, and stories, and the crowd was a cross-section of America - elderly people, college students, whites, Indians, Asians, men, women, children.

As it neared time to go in, one of the people commented something like " is this what we've come to in a society, sleeping outside so we can get cheap laptops and TV's?". Well, yes, and I don't think that's a bad thing. There are a lot of parts of the world where people aren't queueing up for luxuries that were out of reach to all but the rich a few years ago - they are queueing up for food or water or medicine so that they don't die. So the fact that we have the luxury of spending a few hours outside to snag a cheap LCD speaks volumes of the degree of comfort we've acheived. And at least we can get into a line without violence - PJ O'Rourke, in an Atlantic article about Iraq, the ability to get into an orderly line speaks volumes about a society's ability to function, especially to function without an overriding authority (during the 6 hours I spent at Circuit City, a Bridgewater police officer who looked about 12 drove by slowly 3 or four times, but that was it for security. Circuit City's crowd control consisted of a single stand-up sign, remincent of the "hostess will seat you" sign at Denny's, stating the line forms here, and a blue CAT5 cable tied around the pylons in front of the store as a sort of geeky low-budget velvet rope).

I will often hear people complain about the commercialization of Christmas - that the religious motivation of Christmas has been lost to consumerism. That's always a tough one for me - I'm Catholic, but I'm also an avowed capitalist who generally thinks that everything, including organ donation, should be more capitalist. Christmas has become an interesting holiday - a religious day celebrated by those who aren't religious, in ways that don't reflect on religion. I don't think that that's necessarily a bad thing - there is something nice about holidays that everyone can celebrate, and our nation has become much more diverse and less Christian in makeup in the last 50 or so years. I think most people who celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday are able to keep the two worlds seperate - to make it to Church and then exchange gifts, to go Christmas shopping and then come home and light the Advent wreath.

I do have to admit I sometimes find Christmas overbearing - the store displays in October, the constant Christmas music (I have a coworker who leaves the radio in her cube on the "all Christmas music all the time station" well, all the time) - Christmas almost seems anticlimactic after 2 months of decorations and music. But part of that is that Christmas is a hectic time for me - as a part-time MBA student, it's the time of the semester that I have to do all the homework that I should have done 2 months ago but is now due. But this will hopefully be the last Christmas of that for a while, so hopefully next Christmas I can focus on the season and not how I'm going to generate several pages of "lessons learned" for classes that I didn't really learn any lessons from....


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