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.

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