I Came, I Saw, I Shopped
08.21.47 - Mark
Black Friday has come and gone for me. I went out about 4:30am this morning and made my way though walmart, staples, and Lowe's for a few deals. I didn't see any really impressive deals like last year. No $20 hard drives, crazy cheap portable DVD players, or anything exceptionally special. Well aside from the $100 TomToms and other cheap in car GPS navigation systems. If I had money I would have been very tempted to get one. Today's deals weren't a whole lot better than what some good internet shopping yields. Instead I got another (much needed) 500GB external hard drive ($80), a 4GB USB Drive ($18), a couple gift items, and a few DVDs. Nothing special or exceptionally cheap, but hard to beat deals. If you're fast like I am it's pretty easy to move though the crowds and get in and out quickly.
There is something to be said for going out at least half an hour early (as opposed to last year's "on time"). I could have picked up nearly anything I wanted at Walmart without too much fighting, and I was early enough in the Staples line to have had my pick of goodies.
My only real complaint this year is that some people are morally bankrupt at 6am. At staples there were some people who showed up at 5:50 then started acting like they had been standing in line since 5am (or earlier. I showed up at staples at 5:10 and there were a couple dozen people before me) not to mention people who were jumping the gates or trying to get a free upgrade on an already amazing deal.
Slow Moving Hordes
11.48.12 - Mark
Thanksgiving brings together large numbers of very slow moving people, and I can't easily blame it on the Turkey. Normally I'm lucky enough to not have to do any traveling around the holidays, but this year my brother needed to be picked up from Savannah, GA for winter break Wednesday morning, and while I can drive the required 12-14 hours in a day, it is not fun. While getting down there was easy enough, coming back Wednesday was insane. What was 6 hours going south suddenly became over 8 hours coming back thanks to some insane traffic patterns.
I'm not talking about a handful of idiots driving under the speed limit either. Every single time we hit a major city the interstate highways suddenly became Interstate parking lots. One segment around Charlotte was bumper to bumper traffic four lanes wide crawling along under 10MPH for 12 miles. (We did some rough math and guessed that was nearly 24,000 people stuck in northbound gridlock). Once it cleared, there was no sign of an accident, no speed traps or construction or bad road conditions. It just cleared up magically. And we had similar experiances in at least 4 other places (thankfully they were not 12 miles long). It wasn't uncommon to see car lights going to either horizon, miles and miles of cars waiting to move a few more inches before stopping again. I've seen traffic move faster on highways burried in several inches of snow and ice. Completly fucking insane.
Of course thats before Thansgivings. Today is the ultimate consumer holiday, Black Friday As a geek its up there with Halloween and Talk like a Pirate day as favorite holiday. Portable DVD players for $20, ubercheap desktops and laptops, nearly free after rebate optical media (black and otherwise) and dirt cheap disk drives. It's a great time to stock up on parts for a year, and one that I tend to take advantage of. Last year I got a late start, doing most of my work after 8 AM. This year I started just before 5 AM. The crowds were mindblowing. One big box store had a line for registers wrapping all of the main isles, and plenty of people packed in around the merchandise. At a Target store that opened at 6, I got into line at 6:08 and was walking in as a decent flow of people with carts overflowing with spoils were walking out. Fortunatly things were peaceful, otherwise you very easily could have seen fights over avalible shopping carts, let alone products.
While it can be stressful when everyone else is as slow as a lava run, my slothiness in getting to some of the stores wasn't entirely unproductive. I walked into my main target store (Staples) for a hard drive and a couple other things at a quarter to 10, and while all of the $20 200GB hard drives were off the shelf, the ones that had been reserved freed up at 10 - and I still get the rebates.
If nothing else, Black Friday is an experiance.