Stomped to Death 2011

This post was originally posted on November 28, 2008 but seeing that it’s Black Friday and already we are hearing reports of shopping rage on this day dedicated to paying homage to the God of Consumption, it’s still timely. May you have a wonderful weekend and stay safe if you do have to shop!

Today is Black Friday, a day where folks seem to lose their collective minds all in the name of a bargain. I must confess I have never in almost 36 years on this planet ever went out to shop on Black Friday. I came from humble folks aka po folks so the day after Thanksgiving was spent watching TV and eating…nice simple shit. Even when I got grown and came into a few shekels of my own I have never felt compelled to go out and experience the madness, shit I hate crowds so today is just not my day.

Now I admit every few years I see something advertised that almost makes me wanna get up at midnight, but no I like to sleep too much to deal with crazed folks trying to catch bargains. That said, in recent years it seems Black Friday has disintegrated into madness which is the point of my post. It seems this morning a Wal-Mart clerk on Long Island was trampled to death by a pack of folks who were described as almost taking the hinges off the door. Now if this shit wasn’t real, I would be laughing.

What kind of society are we when the spirit of the holidays is summed up by how much useless shit we can buy? Seriously, I was reading about a woman today whose idea of scaled down living was buying a 33 inch telly on sale at Best Buy…damn, that says a lot about us and why we are collectively fucked financially as a nation.

Seems no one remembers living within their means, we are on a quest to consume even when it can kill us. On this Black Friday, my heart goes out to the family of the Wal-Mart worker whose life was lost because we as a society seem to have lost our common sense.

As for me, I am going out to the tree lighting my town will hold tonight, take in the lights and sounds, maybe slip by Starbucks for a delicious hot chocolate and then come home and finish getting my eat on.

Class, Privilege and Black Friday

I had no intentions of blogging today, figured I’d take the day off and relax with the family. But today’s post was inspired by one of my favorite folks on Twitter and it actually made me think. Today is Black Friday, a day that in recent years has become synonymous with great bargains and the possibility of getting trampled if you are trying to shop at a store that serves a rowdy clientele and has bargains too good to resist. In many ways Black Friday has become a great joke for the economically comfortable. Granted there are many solidly middle class folks that like to go out and shop on Black Friday but for working class folks, the deals touted on Black Friday may be the only way some families will be able to afford gifts.

Now I know many folks who will say but why do they feel the need to feed the shopping machine in the first place? Good question but that’s a different discussion for a different day. However as someone who spent the first 18 years of her life working class in a good year, let me tell you the holidays despite the interpersonal strife and conflict often times represented the only time of the year that some of my needs and wants got met. Working with low income families for many years now, I will say things haven’t changed much for the poor and or working class.

In solidly middle class and higher families, good food, enriching toys and clothing needs and desires are met throughout the year. Yet for people who struggle to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, that is often not their reality. It was just over a year ago that this reality hit home with me when I was working with some of the kids that attend my after school program and we were working with paints. Not terribly expensive paints by any stretch of the imagination anyhoo one of the girl’s parents called and she was upset that she had to leave the project we were working on. So very thoughtlessly, I suggested maybe she could paint at home and she explained she had no paints at home. Recently two of my younger kids asked if they could take some crayons home to color with as they had no crayons at home with which to color with. As a parent who tries to keep a stocked craft cabinet for my own child, my heart broke then I remembered that I don’t recall ever having any paints at home myself when I was a child. I can’t even imagine that it dawned on my parents that they should provide me with paints. I suspect in their minds they figured my painting needs were met at school plus they probably didn’t have the resources to obtain paints and other art/craft supplies for me.

Just yesterday while killing time on Twitter, I’d say 25% of the folks I follow were railing against Thanksgiving as a bullshit holiday. I won’t deny it’s a bullshit holiday and most of us were taught a false holiday that whitewashed the brutality and sheer evil that is at the heart of Thanksgiving. Yet like Christmas celebrations how many people even think about the historical roots of the holiday? Nope, for many it’s just a pig-out day to spend with loved ones or people you are suppose to love. Yet for those who live with financial and food insecurity, its one of the few days that in many cases you can have more than enough food complete with treats.

One of the shittiest things about my job at times is that during the holiday season I am inundated with folks offering help for the needy, free meals, free toys, free clothes…you get the picture. Yet ask me where this help is in July? Yeah…can’t tell ya because I don’t see it. But in November and December offers of help flows like booze with the cast of Jersey Shore and you can be damn sure I see to it that people are able to get their needs met.

Yet there are folks who are not among the neediest so agencies like mine generally can’t help them, so what’s a working stiff to do when they want or need a new television set? Wait like hell for the deals and hope they can snap up that TV. I admit as someone whose main telly is on the brink I almost sent the Spousal Unit out to brave the crowds at Wally World since a 19” TV for $99 is quite a steal. We don’t shun television in this house and by most folk’s standards our TV’s are modest, I have an old 13” in my bedroom and a 22” in the living room, that’s it. No bells or whistles, and considering that televisions these days are quite costly I can sympathize with those who feel the need to get up early to snag a good deal. Shit, it’s getting harder and harder to make the shekels stretch…if giving up a night of sleep to get needs and wants taken care of works for some, who the hell am I to judge?

Admittedly I have in the past said not too nice things about Black Friday but for me it’s always been more about the mob mentality that seems to surface. On the other hand maybe it says something deeper about us as a society that we allow what used to be a benign day to become such a crazy thing. After all I don’t recall hearing about violence happening as a result of shopping on Black Friday back in the 1980’s or even 1990’s. I think as we live in such rapid paced times we are pushed to our breaking point. Living in a time when even before the Great Recession there was such opulence or so we thought yet for the real man or woman on the streets they saw their real wages stagnate, health insurance go up and basically started using their houses and credit cards to supplement with the Boss man didn’t pay so that their ends could meet. In such situations how can you not expect people to go a little crazy?

Perhaps all of us including myself need to look at root causes for why days like Black Friday bring out the worst in humanity. Sure it’s easy to say well folks don’t need this or that; all the while you are typing from the comfort of your home with your latest piece of iGadgetry.

At the end of the day, we all want good food, a warm house, clothing, love and maybe even a few extras however we define those extras, for some it’s iGadgets, Kitchen-Aid mixers and so on…yet who are we to judge someone else’s desires? Yet our ability to have these things will depend in large part on where we sit on the socio-economic ladder and even a decision of whether or not to brave crowds on Black Friday versus shopping on Cyber Monday from the comforts of our home and or office will depend on what we have access to.  Just some food from thought from a lifetime card carrying member of the working class.

People confuse me or maybe I am getting old

People tease me about my constant discussion of getting old, my oldest and dearest friend in the universe is fond of telling me, we are not old. Yet like many folks, getting old doesn’t bother me and on some level I totally embrace it. See, for many of us getting old means not making the same foolish mistakes we made when we were young and dumb. I see it as obtaining a certain level of wisdom by the virtue of the fact that we have been there, done that and got the t-shirt.

Which brings me to today’s post Thanksgiving rant. First up what the fuck is wrong with people? So a couple of wanna be reality stars thought it would be a groovy idea to crash President Obama’s first state dinner. Um….what is it about reality tv that makes folks lose their ever-loving minds? Now looking at the couple in question, they seem old enough to know right from wrong so clearly they missed the get wisdom as you get older bit. First we had balloon boy’s crazy parents and now this! Really, we need to pass some common sense drinks or joints out to folks, cuz some ideas are really bad and never need to leave the privacy of your thoughts.

Which brings me to the next point, what the fuck is up with the Secret Service ? Yeah, I heard…the O- man and his peeps were never in any danger. Um, considering that Obama gets ways more threats than any other president including his predecessor, might we want to take the security of the first Black President very seriously. The fact that this couple of wanna be reality stars were able to roll up to the party and even take pictures with ole crazy Joe Biden is scary.

Hello!!!! The enemies might be thinking right now, hey let’s look for some idiots we can promise a reality show with if they can do XYZ. I know that sounds crazy but look, Al Qaeda doesn’t need to go far to recruit they can just look for the next dumb ass America who wants fame and fortune. Shit, look what Richard Heene and his wife did, I am sure if they had realized how quickly they  were going to be found out, poor Falcon might have really been in that balloon.  By the way, if you do crash a party at the White House and are successful, maybe putting the pictures up on Facebook is a bad idea. since if I understand correctly this couple was found out after they posted pics on Facebook.

Nah…people are stupid and they confuse me.

Next up, the lure of Black Friday shopping. When I was a kid, I don’t recall anyone getting up at midnight or 2 am to go shopping after  Thanksgiving. Call me crazy but it’s 9 am and my ass it still stuffed and the idea of going some place after eating a feast is something I have a hard time grasping. An old childhood friend mentioned she was going to be up at 4:30 am to shop today. I wished her good luck. Only way I could imagine getting up that early is if I were getting paid to shop, even then I might say no.

So if one of my readers can share with me what makes shopping today so great, I would love to know why so that I can expand my brain and attempt to be a tad less judgemental. As for me, I am doing some cooking and going to view some pretty trees this evening.

As you can see, I survived yet another holiday with minimal tears and down moments. Have a great weekend!