over the weekend i watched with horror at the reports of a walmart worker being killed by "black friday" shoppers at a long island, ny shopping mall. shoppers, many of whom were reportedly angry that the store had closed during the night to restock, not only busted the door off of its hinges, but also trampled the worker and four others (including a 8 months pregnant woman) in efforts to beat other shoppers to the best deals. shoppers tromped on, over and by the 34 year-old employee, crushing his trachea, and apparently, not noticing or not caring as paramedics worked to save the man's life. while the worker, sadly, died the other four were treated at the hospital and are recovering.
authorities, thankfully, are pouring over security camera footage hoping to identify the killers, hoping to catch glimpses of the perpetrators' greedy faces, make positive i.d.s and prosecute the hell out of them. while i share the sentiment, i do wonder if it's possible to do this. isn't the very nature of a mob the fact that identities become blurred, thinking fuzzy and actions robotic and frenzied? won't the "mass-ness" of the act be what's prominent on the tapes? won't the pictures show an anonymous, hurried, chaotic, breathless, adrenalized blob of dark winter coats and heavy duty winter boots moving en masse to the electronics department where the x-boxes are marked down 75% and the big screen t.v.s are $400 off? won't the films show that, true to mob motion and mentality, the people in back surged forwared and the people in front kept on moving, almost as if against their wills?
there can be no true justice done here. it's down to only a matter reparative degrees now: shoppers at an american store trampled a human being to death and didn't notice or care enough to stop and help, let alone give a damn. decency has already died in the dock as a store clerk--who apparently was a seasonal employee just trying to make an extra buck--has died from irreparable physical damage incurred as he was opening the door of the store where he works. no more christmases, hugs from family or breaths of any kind for that guy, all because greedy AMERICAN people--"civilized," western people--had so little self control or decency as to avoid trampling another person to death while they walked through the doorway of a consumer outlet.
in a society where liberal humanists and other enlighten individuals call for the end of war and protection of the environment, citizens trample each other in hopes of getting the best price on toys. it makes one wonder just where this society is headed. it makes one want to vomit, pray and scream all at once.
i found myself moving against the crowd this weekend, but not in the dramatic fashion depicted above. at least, not dramatic to anyone but me. due to an unusual number of outstanding november work reimbursements i found myself a little short at the end of the month. looking with dread at dec 1, the day an auto-w/d for health insurance will hit my account, i wondered what i should do. i decided to return some already-purchased christmas gifts to raise the bit of cash needed.
now, this is a strange endeavor, you can imagine. while stores crawl with crowds of shoppers looking for bargains, i was in the return line looking to make some money. at first i wanted to make up stories--"this wasn't the right size"--or concoct guilty excuses--"i'm so sorry. this just didn't work for me"--but after the first store (I went to two) something happened inside me. i felt free and responsible.
let me explain. of late i have been really trying not to put charges on my credit card, which sounds like it would be easy (just don't do it!), but since, as i mentioned above, i often purchase things for my job and then get reimbursed, every end-of-month finds me in crunch mode. i usually end up either borrowing from my savings or charging a few items, incurring the interest and chalking it up to vocational hazard. and since the last two months have found me with above-and-beyond expenses--car repairs and a tooth crown--my reserves are depleted and option #1 wasn't possible. i'm sick of charging so i tried to stretch my funds and it just didn't work. i was short. thus, the return-o-rama scheme was hatched.
i must admit that before freedom and responsibility hit me, a little shame did. i mean, come now, who returns gifts to make money? (answer: really greedy teens or really poor newlyweds). yet freedom came to me in knowing that in a culture where shoppers kill other people in a frenzied rush to acquire goods, i was, in a small way, bucking that system. i was calmly returning items, not slavishly clamoring for them.
freedom also came in realizing that i wasn't folding and relying on credit which is increasingly expensive these days, you may have noticed. responsibility came in knowing that as the cfo of company kelli i was making a wise choice for my investors (me!). i raised the capital i needed to stay solvent, and i know where to go if i want to buy those items back.
and really, do my neices and nephews really need the just-released kung fu panda movie that, like three months from now, will be marked down from $19.99 to $7.99? uh, no. do i need the raiders of the lost ark dvd just because it's $3.98 and just because harrison ford was really cute back then? again, no.
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