Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

November 21, 2012

House of Burgess – Caveat emptor; seriously, be careful

Black Friday participation getting dangerous in spots

Tomorrow is one my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving.

The day after tomorrow used to be one of my favorite holidays, Black Friday.

When I was growing up, my family always delighted in making fun of the lunatics who would get up before dawn to camp out in the freezing cold on the busiest shopping day of the year. We laughed and laughed as we would drive by the bundled masses setting up their camping equipment in front of the big box stores around town.

Then, after I left for college, I became one of those people.

It was more of a game than anything. I would scan the ads and salivate over the deals. “Sure, I don’t need a paper shredder,” I would think to myself, “but with the mail-in rebate it’s practically free.” This jovial attitude persisted for several years, with more and more of my friends participating in a unified, coordinated effort. We strategically posted up at different stores, grabbing multiple items others in our group might want. I also understood the reasons that retailers put so much emphasis on this day. Tens of billions of dollars were on the line for them.

But in the years after I began engaging in Black Friday, I started noticing a general shift in attitude. I may be pining for a past that exists only in my imagination, but it certainly seemed more lighthearted in the beginning. As far as I can tell, the sea change took place at the same time the Great Recession flowered fully into a full-blown panic following the stock market crash of September 2008.

I had heard of violence and nastiness in years past, but it seemed more anecdotal. Most of the reports I heard consisted of relatively harmless shoving and occasional rudeness. But with prices this low, what do you expect? Am I right?

But by 2008, a certain meanness permeated everything. Fellow shoppers used to laugh and joke with one another while waiting for the doors to open in the pre-dawn hours. The jokes weren’t coming so easy anymore. The general attitude seemed to shift from: “Hey, this is fun!” To: “I NEED THIS!”

The 2008 Black Friday was tragically historic as the first death attached to the holiday was recorded. A 34-year-old Walmart employee in Valley Stream, N.Y., was fatally crushed as the doors opened.

“He was bum-rushed by 200 people,” co-worker Jimmy Overby told the New York Daily News. “They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me.”

Things only devolved from there.

In 2010, Lanessa L. Lattimore, 21, cut in front of a line of Black Friday shoppers waiting to enter a Madison, Wis., Toys “R” Us and threatened to shoot anyone who objected, according to CNN.

But I knew last year’s Black Friday would be my last on the front lines when I heard the story of Elizabeth Macias, the pepper spray-packing Walmart shopper from Los Angeles.

“A woman trying to improve her chance to buy cheap electronics at a Walmart in a wealthy suburb spewed pepper spray on a crowd of shoppers and 20 people suffered minor injuries,” reported the Associated Press. “The store had brought out a crate of discounted Xbox video game players, and a crowd had formed to wait for the unwrapping, when the woman began spraying people.”

It started with shoving and trampling. Then came the threats. Now people are packing? I’m out. I’ve never been crushed, shot or pepper-sprayed before, but I’ve known people who have. Nothing they told me indicated either was worth a discounted gaming system – even an Xbox.

So this year I’m staying home. But I won’t be making fun of anyone who decides to risk it. I’ll be too busy worrying for their safety.

Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at rob.burgess@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/robaburg.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Smoking ordinance misguided As a subscriber to the printed edition of the Kokomo Tribune, and a non-smoker, I was very interested upon seeing a page one article in the Aug. 13 edition titled “City-wide ban on smoking revealed.” After reading the article, my interest was peaked

    August 22, 2014

  • Why government openness matters Failing to share information makes us weaker. It enfeebles congressional oversight, which is a cornerstone of representative democracy and which, when aggressively carried out by fully informed legislators, can strengthen policy-making. One of the fu

    August 22, 2014

  • Aug. 22: Letters to the Editor Rokita wrong on GMOsThe Aug. 13 Tribune article about Rokita’s “Town Hall Meeting” left out a key issue — Rokita’s co-sponsorship of HR4432. This bill would ban mandatory labeling of currently genetically modified foods and prohibit any state from en

    August 22, 2014

  • Use the law to save lives As college students head back to campus, it’s a good time to remind them of the Indiana Lifeline Law.When the General Assembly passed the law two years ago, the goal was to encourage minors to call for help by giving them immunity from being prosecut

    August 22, 2014

  • It's time to deal with crisis For five and a half years, the president has gone around Congress to ignore, defy and alter laws in a variety of areas, from Obamacare implementation to issuing excessive new labor and environmental rules to infringing on religious freedom. It is no

    August 21, 2014

  • Nation must be united On Aug. 9, unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, by a police officer. Since that time, protestors and unrest have filled the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, a town near St. Louis.A similar scenario

    August 21, 2014

  • John understands fight against mental illness Terre Haute native Tommy John understands all too well how the pain of depression can lead a talented entertainer like Robin Williams to commit suicide.Like Williams, John achieved national fame, posting 288 victories as a major league baseball pitch

    August 21, 2014

  • Letters to the Editor Former Kokomoan on FergusonI was a resident of Kokomo from 1992 to 2008. Because of the housing crisis, my wife and I relocated to the St. Louis, Missouri area, which is close to where I grew up. With the eyes of the world focused upon the St. Louis

    August 21, 2014

  • OPN - KT082014 - king What Fergusonsays about us Aug. 9 is a day that Americans lost sight of themselves. It is the day Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black teenager of Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, was shot and killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. That evening, and for all but o

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Letters to the editor Congrats on wind farm defeat Congratulations to the citizens of Kokomo and Howard County! Your officials have done you a great favor by stopping any further considerations for construction of industrial wind turbines in your area. Now, if the fede

    August 20, 2014

Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
US: We Do Not Pay Ransom to Terrorists Ferguson Teachers Training to Deal With Trauma Jon Hamm on the Unrest in Ferguson Tit for Tat? McDonald's Shuttered in Moscow Life on the Professional Video Game Circuit TX Gov Perry in Washington: 'Confident' in Case Hospital Releases Two Missionaries Who Had Ebola Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle NYC Doctor-in-chief Seeks Community Approach Indonesian Police Fire Tear Gas at Protesters Raw: Shots Fired in Liberian Shantytown DOJ, Bank of America Reach Record Settlement Raw: Cubavision Airs Images of Fidel Castro Raw: Grief After Deadly Airstrikes in Gaza Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Kathy Griffin Challenges Minaj to 'a Booty Off' Johnson: Six Arrests, No Tear Gas in Ferguson Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll