Don't hate my kid, but she found it hilarious that someone died in a Black Friday stampede at Wal-Mart. I didn't think she was taking this seriously enough, so I quickly found this YouTube video. Someone used their cell phone to film the unfortunate, dying store clerk receiving CPR. You can actually hear them laugh in the background.
This made my nearly 13 year old daughter laugh harder. I was too shocked to even get angry.
"Why is this funny to you?", I asked.
"That's just Americans," she replied, still laughing. "I know my people, and all they care about is a good sale."
"Yeah, think about how excited you got the first time you went to a Wal-Mart."
"You can't compare that to this..."
"Oh yes you can," she shot back quickly. "You were so psyched over those great prices. Now imagine being there Black Friday, where you get 50% off that."
"But they trampled people to bust into the store!"
"Shopping on Black Friday is not for the faint of heart... See, the lady videoing it is even laughing."
"Look at that poor woman... man? I can't tell. That person is dead now."
"Too fat, probably wore glasses and looked like a nerd. Got no respect."
She laughed again.
"That's not funny!," I exclaimed. "Someone should have stopped to help him up!"
"Mom, you're too much of goody-two shoes. That could be you real easy. I can see you now, trying to bend over and help someone, then get knocked down and trampled yourself. Best you can do in one of those situations is jump over the person."
"Cassie, I think I'm starting to get mad at ya..."
She was relentless. She said, "Think about all those folks waiting in line since yesterday evening. They're half crazy by the time the doors open. If they stop to help someone, they'd lose their place and maybe a good deal. I heard the first fifty people got a free IPod at Best Buy."
"Good for them, but at that Wal-Mart, they closed after that."
"They closed? Over that?"
I was confounded by her own "American" attitude of utter non-empathy. How in the hell did my kid get desensitized? And when did this shit happen? Hell, a few days ago I was writing great shit about her. Now I'm wondering what planet she arrived from.
"Yes," I said, "why wouldn't they close? One store clerk dead, a pregnant woman trampled and miscarried... She was real far along and lost her baby."
Cassie looked sad for the first time.
"Several other people were injured too," I said. "This is why they closed the store."
Her mind jumped back into the callous American attitude of it's all about me.
"Wow," she said, "I know those shoppers were mad..."
"The store owner must be upset too," she said. "They needed those sales."
I sucked my teeth. "No excuse for any of it," I said. "What happened to that man was homicide."
"No, Mom, it was just an accident..."
"Bullshit. Second degree murda. Like killing someone from reckless driving and claiming it was only an accident."
This word slowly sank in her mind. I could see it in her eyes. She understands murder. She understands shopper mania. Her mind was now struggling to connect the two. The story was suddenly not funny to her.
She mouthed the word again, murder.
To change the subject, we looked for more YouTube videos under Black Friday. Quite a few folks had the same idea I did last night: they went people-watching at the crowds lined up even though the doors didn't open until 5AM or after.
I live within a five minute walk from a Best Buy. Yesterday, my son Xavier walked the dog and came back in saying he couldn't believe that people were already lined up outside - and it was barely 7PM. I was amazed too; last year I think they didn't do this until after midnight.
Later, about 1 AM today, I took the dog for a stroll over there. I swear, the Asians may end up on top. The first half dozen families led the line, had their tents, and were camped out. I asked the first young lady what she was there to get.
"A TV," she said.
Hmmm. I thought she would say a computer. She looked like a student.
The line wrapped around the side of the building. All races present. Orderly. Chatty. Cold. Over half had tents. A lot of people waited in their cars to stay warm, and would take turns with their family members doing this. I was surprised that the majority said they wanted TV's.
Around 11 AM, I returned and this time entered the store. It was packed. No, I have no money yet to blow on anything non-essential, but I love to watch all things Americana.
Truth be told, there was a neat little video camera, normally for $299, on sale today only for $199. I've never owned one and it would be fun, but I know in my bones that next year will brutal for the economy, so much so that I might find the same thing in the spring for $99. If not, fine. I gotta good digital camera.
As I looked at nearly 100 shopping carts filled with televisions, I was thinking, damn, what am I missing? Programming still sucks. I can't imagine that all those folks have no TV or a broken TV at home.
What struck me today that's different from previous years is that instead of computers selling like hotcakes, TVs were flying on the shelves. I understood computers; they're expensive and students need one for school work, and they are necessity if you want alternative news, not to mention email or taking work home from the office.
Instead of chains, we have wires now and like willing slaves, are willing to be wired at all times.
We are chained to cell phones, text messages, pagers, email, taking home work from the office, and for the kids, TV, movies, music and video games. There's no escape from our masters.
This ain't new; it's been going on since America went online approximately ten years ago. In fact, American Online (AOL) used to be the biggest company. I remember my excitement of getting Internet. You'll find heaven there, but the devil is too, and I ain't talking about pornography. Everything is so instant, but also terribly impersonal.
I truly hate to criticize the younger generation, and y'all please tell me if I'm wrong, but excess technology seems so bonkers that it's impeded the dating and mating ritual.
Guy and girl meet, and do they call one another right away? No. They waste weeks texting and cruising each others Facebook or MySpace to determine if any sexual attraction they may have felt was legit. Then they text rather than talk, build up a whole fantasy about that person's fantasy of themselves, maybe still get rejected for a first date after nurturing a pseudo-relationship in cyberspace, and then start all over again.
And then wonder why it's been two or three months since they've been on a date. Hell, they could've been laid at least 50 times in that amount of time if they had simply exchanged phone numbers, asked the person out the first time they called and nurtured some kind of relationship. All that good sexin', gone to waste because they're wired.
It's a damn shame. Shiiit, wish the hell I was in my 20s again, but that's another story, heh-heh.
Instead, this nation of horny-azzed folks have turned to food - we are a bunch of fatties - and having way too much stuff and getting lost in the fantasy of television, cable, and electronic games to substitute for companionship and sex.
Well, not everyone, of course, but whole lot of folk. We're starting the kids out young too, with this sorta new value system. This evening I read that today, Black Friday, at a Toys R Us, there was a shooting that left two people dead.
How's that for sending the kids the message that entertainment stuff is worth trampling others and even shooting them?
The store and news is trying to spin it like "maybe" it was a personal issue between whoever had the gun(s). Regardless, they were shopping in the damn store on Black Friday and handled their conflict with the ultimate violence available to the ordinary citizen.
I can picture that shit now.
Janie tells her kid: "You want that doll?"
Kid: "Yeah! I gotta have it."
Janie: "Look, there's that bitch that's been hating on me. I'm gonna blast her azz, right now in plain view of all these witnesses."
Kid: "Ma, can't you wait 'till later?"
Janie: "Fuck that. I'm wit 50 Cents, I'm a Termination On Sight kinda mama."
Oh hell no the shit didn't go down like that. I'd bet $20 bucks them women and/or their friends were fighting over some friggin' toys. Who the hell kills in front of 500 witnesses, plus store cameras, and a packed parking lot making a quick escape impossible?
My son walked in a couple hours ago. I asked if he heard about Wal-Mart spectacle.
"Yeah," he said nonchalantly, "at my friend's house."
"What you think about it?"
"It was funny."
He had a slight tone of disgust in his voice when he answered. "Because it's so stupid."
Cassie's laugher and words still ring in my ears: "That's just Americans. I know my people, and all they care about is a good sale."
What she's really saying without knowing she's saying it is that we've become One Nation Under Greed.
God help us all when the economy nose dives harder and food shortages and food rationing lines become the norm.
Seriously, can't you visualize all us well-fed, young and middle-aged Americans fighting in the snack food and soda aisles?
I can hear the intercom now: "There's been a double stabbing in Aisle 13. Avoid that section please, until the medics arrive."
Shiiit, if it's anything like Toys R Us or Wal-Mart today, there will be stampede there to get the victim's share of food rationing.
For a lot of reasons I've written about previously, I believe there's an excellent chance of shortages happening long before next year this time, and I can't help but wonder why God or anyone else would want to help us at all...