My Black Friday: Capitalism, Consumerism, and Confusion


by Spencer Brown

As I stood in line outside Target 40 minutes before the store opened, I reached an interesting state of enlightenment combined with confusion. After stepping into line, I lost some aspect of individuality and become part of the greater mass of people snaking their way around the exterior of the store, extending farther than I could see. We were a cold and huddling mass, yearning to score a deal on that shiny new HDTV, becoming nothing more than a corporate sales figure or the subject of that night’s puff piece on the local news. Barely past 7pm on Thanksgiving, here we were sacrificing our rest and relaxation in pursuit of holiday shopping savings.

Having nothing else to do but wait and repeatedly beat my hands against my jeans to keep them warm, I struck up some friendly conversation with my fellow shoppers. Some were there for the limited-quantity and deeply discounted televisions for themselves, others were there to buy cheap kitchen appliances for family and friends. After being in line for about 10 minutes, store employees came through the line offering store maps, flyers, and free granola bars. A women in front of me took some, wished the employee a Happy Thanksgiving, and then mentioned to her shopping companion how awful it was that the employees had to work on Thanksgiving.

That’s confusing, I thought. If a woman was willing to be out on Thanksgiving to wait in lines for hours in pursuit of a few deals, how did she think such an evening of commerce would be possible without employees sacrificing part of their holiday as well?

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