Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Paint It Black

If I recall my history correctly, then today is the busiest day of the entire year on which to travel. A lot of folks are on their way over the river and through the woods apparently. If you are among them - or if someone you love is, then I hope that you/they make it from Point A to Point B in as uneventful and boring a fashion as possible.

Admittely, my information could be wrong. Most of my Thanksgiving Eve-related travel - actually all of it I think - occurred while I was matriculating my way towards my degree at CU, which matriculation took place (as Don McLean once sang), "A long, long time ago."

I note now, looking at my CU Alumni Association Calendar on my office wall that CU students have been off all week for Fall break. No such animal existed on the Boulder campus whilst I was there - unless it did and I was in too much of drunken stupor to realize it. I cannot pretend to know (a) how many years it has been in existence; and/or (b) whether the school's implementation of it had anything to do with shutting down the tension convention associated with Thanksgiving travel.

Perhaps the University higher-ups simply wanted their students to be home -wherever that may be - so that they could spend their Thanksgiving night on the road to their favorite retail outlet to kick off their Christmas shopping? As we are being reminded of this year, 'tis never too early to hit the mall. Or the big box store.

Americans fascinate me. We are after all the same bunch of ornery, whiny little bags who shall complain until the cows come home over the length of lines at security checkpoints at airports or public arenas. Yet we shall spend the night in sleeping bags and pup tents for the opportunity to be the first one across the threshold of a Wal-Mart, Best Buy or Costco to purchase all of the "must have" items on our Christmas shopping lists. Require me to spend a half-hour in line in order to better protect me from someone with bad intentions? F*** You Roy - and Trigger too. Permit me to spend twelve hours in line, outside, overnight and in the cold for first crack at Betsy Wetsy or some such other bullsh*t? G*d Bless America!

Should retailers be commended or condemned this year for formally giving in to the inevitable and opening as early at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving night ("I'll take my mince pie to go Grandma, the Apple Store opens in fifteen minutes") in anticipation of the Black Friday insanity? Margaret and I were watching TV on Monday night and a spot came on for Wal-Mart, which is opening its stores (at least in the New York area) at 10:00 P.M. on Thanksgiving night to get a jump on Black Friday, in which Wal-Mart sold the concept as one designed to enable you the shopper to beat the crowds without having to first spend the night outside waiting for the store to open.

We the people of the United States grow fatter and unhealthier by the year. We can not pry our ever-expanding asses (this poor woman is exempted from this particular list this year) from the couch to go to the gym, for walks or to change the channel on our televisions. Yet dangle the promise of being the first moron on our block to have the hottest sh*t this Christmas (sorry, I am not "PC" so "Holiday" just does not exist in my vernacular), and we break into a national salute to Jesse Owens.

One might think that either we the retailing public or they the retailers would be ashamed of the heights - or are they the depths - to which our crassness has reached this year. No chance. That train jumped the tracks a long time ago. Thankfully, at least some got off before it did.

Here in the New York metropolitan area there are almost as many electronics retailers as there are nail salons and Chinese take-out joints. A lot of them are here today, gone tomorrow. One of them, which is still owned by the same family that started it, has been in business for more than a century. When asked about the bum's rush to the start of the shopping season - including moving up the starting time for Black Friday to Thanksgiving itself P.C. Richard & Son President Gregg Richard said, "A lot of people are opening at midnight now and we may do that one day. But we will still choose to not be open on Thanksgiving. It's disrespectful to family values."

Considering that his family's business has been in business for more than 100 years, his point of view might be more than simply refreshing. It might be right.

Just saying.

I wanna see it painted black, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun, blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black


-AK

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