Thursday, November 22, 2012

Little Shop ~ Little Shop(ping trip) of HORRORS ♫

If you can read this, and you are still at home, wondering if you should venture out for Black Friday...


We have the internet for cripes sakes!! Swallow your shipping pride and do it at home. Trust me when I say THERE IS NOTHING IN THIS WORLD WORTH SHOPPING BLACK FRIDAY!!

As I type this, I'm looking at a photo Johnny Gargano posted from inside a dangerous Wal*Mart:
Now you may see this picture, and just think "WOW! Maybe the economy is looking up? Look how many people are shopping like it's the end of the world."

But to veteran shoppers, it's a shell shock of a reminder of Xmas past.

Recently, I wrote about the first, last and only Black Friday I ever worked in retail. If you are out there working through the holiday pre-weekend right now, you have my respect. I don't wish that barbaric warfare on anyone. Not even the future workers for the Wal*Mart that may stand where my house is. Nope, not even them. If you ever want to know what savage, guerrilla combat feels like, 'tis the season.

The biggest problem are these stores never ordering enough merchandise to meet the mass hysteria. If I owned a Wal*Mart, and had the same amount of cash CEO Michael Duke has in his swimming pool, I'd line the damn store in Nintendos and TV sets. Screw the sweatpants kiosk! I'm ditching the canned beans shelf and just lining it with electronics and Elmos. (Too soon? Sorry...)

But this blog isn't about working on that fateful day, oh no. This is about shopping.

I once survived a series of Black Fridays ~ most of them in the SAME YEAR. If that thought alone doesn't terrify you, wait, it gets better.

Now coming into this world, I remember seeing bootleg tapes of the Cabbage Patch massacre of 1983. The tapes I think belonged to my mom's ex-co-worker. I wasn't born until 86, but I have seen the footage. Moms ripping the dolls from children's hands, dads punching moms, cars being tipped over, it was a frightening sight! But watching these tapes prepared me for the 1990's and beyond.

The early and mid 90's shopping seasons were bizarre. Power Rangers fever hit the nation, but God forbid should a Bradlee's bother to stock the damn things. Perish the thought. They'd order ONE box of eight, and then act all surprised when 30 parents come in, wanting a Green Ranger. I learned how to climb carts and ride as a human shield in the winter of 1994. Yeah, call me crazy, but I still have a plush White Ranger. What'chu got? Exactly.

But then in 1996 came a toy that could have started a civil war:
Now granted, my brother (then 4) wasn't really into Sesame Street, so he didn't seem to notice the doll. We were spared. But many parents would fight in the streets over the doll. I remember once just barely getting my brother to safety, when two people were threatening to club each other to death for that and a handful of Beanie Babies.

UGH... Beanie Babies. Don't get me started. ><

Well one such day, I went to a K-Mart with my mom and brother, and there, hidden in the spots department, was a shelf full of Tickle Me Elmos. I guess the staff had hidden the dolls from plain sight, hoping to take a few home for themselves.

Now I did something I probably shouldn't have. And karma does have a way of catching up to you... but I couldn't resist.

I pushed the shelf back into view, and then secretly activated ALL of the dolls.

I darted behind an aisle, just as a mom with a toddler walked up.

"Look honey! It's Tickle Me Elmo! And the mean old shop keepers said they were out."

No sooner did she lift her hand did ALL of the motion sensors go off.


The little girl started crying. The mom grabbed her, screamed "DEMON DOLLY" and ran for her life. Mama and I spent the day activating all of the dolls, and waiting for people to freak out. By the 5th or 6th time though, all the batteries started to die, and Elmo's baby-like voice, morphed into a deep, demonic "MWA HA HEE HEEEEE HAAAAA HAAAA HEEE HEEEEEE" sound.

Now it's naughty, but I still do this. I've actually been thanked by parents who are looking for ways to ween their kids off of the latest trends. Two years ago, a dad shook my hand after I set off an electronic Mickey doll. The dad got to see first hand that it was too loud and that it wouldn't last. After 2-3 times the doll was set off, it keeled over, rammed it's hand up and down over it's pants and just screamed "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!" before sparking and setting off a Target alarm. Needless to say, that father bought his daughter a quiet Lego set, instead of Mickey.

Karma did strike me a few years ago, when Hokey Pokey Elmo debuted. I set one of them off, and he dove off the side of the shelf. Feeling a little guilty, I knelt down to pick him back up.

Suddenly, the doll rolled, propping his feet against a display shelf. He started following me, and I must say the motion sensor was quite strong on this one. "ELMO WANTS TO KNOW WHERE YOU GOING??" screamed the plush as he chased me down the aisle.

But perhaps the worst Black Friday would be the Black Friday of 2000. EVERY Friday from the week before Thanksgiving until the week of Christmas was Black Friday, and I still have the wounds.

Every Sailormoon doll I own from 1999-2001 is like a tiny badge of honor. Anybody saying that this was an unpopular show with a niche audience, probably never lived in Chicagoland. I was beaten every week by little old ladies with canes, little girls with reflexes like spider monkeys and hostile psycho bitches wielding pepper spray ~ which until 2000 I thought was a salad topping. I didn't used to need reading glasses!!
This is my 12 inch Tuxedo Mask doll. He sits proudly on a shelf, less like an anime action figure and more like a trophy.

On the third Black Friday of 2000, I found him sitting way back on the shelf, the final Tuxedo Mask in the world at this point. Chibiusa's father had sold out at every other store in the world, including online stores, and there were plenty of photos of crazy bitches online, posing with him as if to say "Sailor Moon ain't got nothin' on ME" (If that scares you... GOOD.)

I had him in the cart. The K-Mart appeared empty. Mom turned her back for a split second, just to price an action figure for my brother.

Suddenly, out of the clear blue sky pops a woman that would make Madea seem as innocent as a kitten. She reaches into the cart, and grabs at Tuxedo Mask.

I slapped her hand out of the cart, and reached inside to secure him.

"I wantz that Tuxedo Mask doll. You don' need no damn doll. Ain't you too damn old to be liking DOLLS??" Chides Sharquella of the damned. (I wouldn't know her name, except it was sticking out from a tag she had in her purse.)

"Ain't YOU too old to be snatching dolls up outta other people's carts???" I snapped back.

She sunk her claws into my shoulder. I started bleeding.

"Gimmie dat doll!!" She bellowed. I refused to budge.

Mama whipped around with security, asking this woman to kindly remove her claws from my shoulder. Wanna know what Sharquella says?

"Aw c'mon now, y'all know I'm jus playin' right?" Just playing. Yeah. While my shoulder is spurting.

I may have a scar on my shoulder, but I still have Tuxedo Mask.

But I didn't have the chance to heal up from this battle wound. Just two weeks later, we had to go to the mall. I'm not kidding here when I say my DAD wanted a necklace and a tiara for Christmas. The only places back then that had them cheap were all in the mall.

Well most of the day seemed alright, if not unusually quiet. This was my brother's first Black Friday since his medication had stabilized, so we were going to celebrate his ability to walk again with a short trip to KB Toys. Ah KB. How I miss thee. Bah Humbug, Gnats, Nerts and a hardy and robust Fuck You with a frozen pineapple to Bain Capital for killing one of the greatest stores since Marshal Fields. (Fuck Macy's.)

But the closer we got to KB, the louder the sound of thunder was. A few steps farther, and my eyes adjusted to a horrific sight.

Crammed in the store, where several large, angry soccer moms.

Now when I say large, I do not mean "HERPDEDERP DEY IS FAT" Nu-no.

I mean large as in Mark Henry. Just imagine a bunch of Mark Henry, only Caucasian, blonde and with really ugly Target clothes. (And yes, they were bearded.) These women could have easily bench-pressed an early 70's BMW... one handed.

Orion's eyes got HUGE. My mom pushed down his coat around his elbows and kissed each of his cheeks.

"Mama.... are we gonna die??" Orion asked, his voice going up a few octaves.

I stretched, pushed my own coat down and put Vaseline over my cheekbones. Mama motioned her right hand in the shape of the cross over her body.

"MAMA?!?!" Orion yelped.

"Remember the plan?" Mama nodded to me. "On your mark... get set... GO!!!"

Snatching Orion's hand, I ran as fast as I could, blowing right under a 7 foot pair of legs.

I leap up through the doll aisle, snatching a Hello Kitty and a Sailor Mars. Make a turn for the action figure aisle, snatching up a few Pokemon, chucking a few at Orion. "USE YOUR RIGHT!!" I yelled as he grabbed a few just in time. A twist past the wrestling display grants me a Chibi Road Dogg and Big Show roller set. Another twist and I'm in the plushie aisle, grabbing one more Pokemon, when suddenly-

"KORI KORI KORI SOMEONES GOT ME!!" Some psycho bitch had grabbed Orion's jacket and was screaming "GIVE ME JIGGLYPUFF AND NOBODY DIES!!" I punched the woman, but she wouldn't let go. "ORION DROP THE ARMS!!" His coat falls backwards, causing the woman to fall, taking three more with her. I double back for all the lost toys, using the coat as a make-shift bag. (Bless you recalled and choke-able drawstrings!) The I snatch Orion up and start blowing past the video games.

Mama is at the counter, having just fought off a woman over a Pikachu keychain. Greedy bitch had 7 of her own, and tried to steal from my Mama! Bitch you got 7 and they're all the SAME keychain!! Mama screams "I'M OPEN!!" while elbowing another mom aside.

I grabbed Orion by the shirt, feeling the mom I punched earlier reaching for my coat. I pushed a few toys into his arms and chucked him as hard as I could. "LIVE!!!"

Orion tumbled, rolled and hit's Mama's leg. "HERE!!!" He screams, handing up the toys.

I start chucking Pokemon at Mama. She's rolling the toys over the scanner herself, as the cashier is too busy trying not to pee herself as the other moms and dads started climbing the Nintendo display behind her.

I start running at top speed, the final toy in my hands. I leap up and slam dunk the doll onto the scanner as Mama whips out the check. We grab the bags and start running like mad.

"I WANT JIGGLYPUFF!! GIVE ME JIGGLYPUFF!!" Bellows a voice from behind me. I turn and there are 5 angry moms, gunning for us. A compact was chucked at my leg, this bitch was out for blood and a soft, pink Pokemon.

We loaded Orion's little arms down with bags, and then hoisted him up like a sling, running as fast as we could through the mall. Getting to the rental car, I hurled Orion into the backseat and locked him in. Mama and I got in and Mama slammed her foot on the pedal. As she was moving the shift into gear, the moms jumped the damn car!! I turn around as Orion is screaming "DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE!!!"

These women had on those super light blue, cosmetic contact lenses, which from a distance made their eyes look icy. But on the back of a windshield as one psycho bitch after another is trying to cut their way into the rental with their keys, it looks less alluring and more like zombie soccer moms trying to break in.

Mama gets the car moving. The zombie soccer moms start falling off after a few miles, still screaming

Once home, my mother and I made a vow. Never again. I now do my shopping online, S&H be damned.

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