After a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner with our sister-in-law, her husband and our niece and nephew as well as their family friends, Jerry and I left their home around 7 p.m.
Jerry agreed to stop at Kohl’s (which opened its doors at 6 p.m.) so I could do some early Black Friday shopping. After all, it was on our way home. “I’ll run in and run out,” I told Jerry. Before saying good-bye to our very special and dear sister-in-law Julie, she cautioned, “Kohl’s will be very crowded.”
How crowded could it be? Most people want to stay home on Thanksgiving and spend time with their family. Right?
Once we arrived at the store, I noticed a lot of cars in the parking lot.
“No more than what we usually see in the daytime,” Jerry observed.
“Yes, but this is night and it’s Thanksgiving,” I said, wondering why so many people want to shop on Thanksgiving Day.
Inside I grabbed what I wanted, but the numerous 50% off signs lured me to browse longer.
“I’ll just get in line now,” Jerry said. “It looks like a long line. I’ll hold our place.”
I wandered toward the back of the store to look at the gag gifts (can’t have Christmas without gag gifts) and noticed Jerry shopping, or lounging, at the back of the store.
I thought he said he was going to get in line?
I hastened to the back where Jerry stood to ask why he didn’t get in line. I soon realized Jerry was in line.
Oh no! This is the line?
“Yes,” Jerry said, “and it’s going to take us two hours to get to the register and check-out.”
Certainly, I thought, he exaggerates.
But how long would it take us to check-out? …Maybe the line will move fast. I don’t want to put my items back and try another day. They could be gone by the time I return.
I asked a saleslady if they would hold my items. She said, “No,” with a frown as if I asked the most ridiculous question like, “Do you serve caviar while we wait in line?”
Okay, so my idea to put my items on hold wouldn’t work. But, I didn’t want to miss out on the 50% off and I had my Black Friday $10 Kohl’s cash too. I decided to wait in line.
“The line is moving about a foot a minute,” Jerry said.
Oh no, how many feet to the check-out counter? Probably a thousand.
The ladies standing in line in front of us played tag-team. One held their place in line, while the others shopped. One read aloud a text message, “She needs a humidifier, a new robe and could always use a new pair of pajamas.” The women departed in search of the items.
Meanwhile, the placeholder made a phone call, “How big was your turkey? Oh my! That big! Mine was 14 pounds.”
Our line moves one foot.
The ladies return with a turquoise robe and a humidifier. I remark on the luxuriousness of the robe’s fabric. “Yeah, it’s for my daughter-in-law. I kinda like her.”
This makes me wonder what her daughter-in-law might get if she didn’t like her. And who asks for a humidifier for Christmas? In my mind, that’s something you go to the store and buy like Dr. Scholl’s insoles or cream for jock itch (not that I ever buy this cream, but you get what I mean). Think of it. How exciting is it to open a present on Christmas day and it’s a humidifier? “Oh, how special! Now I can breathe when I have the croup!”
We inch by a display of travel cups with a sign announcing $4.99. “I can use one of these for five bucks,” said Jerry and we add it to our items.
“You picked purple, Jerry? I’ve never known you to choose purple? They have red and black…” (I mean, purple is my color).
“I like purple,” Jerry said defensively.
“I like purple too, good choice.” I didn’t want to get into an edgy discussion of travel cup colors while in line. But the wait caused some irritability on my part, I’ll admit.
Our line crept sloooooowly by a display of cookware. We priced all the frying pans while in line.
“My back hurts,” Jerry said and he took a seat on the shelf featuring flannel lumberjack shirts. It’s okay, I guess, to sit on the display shelves as other men along the line did the same. Odd that the men sit and the women stand.
The ladies in front of us argue what size pajamas to get someone on their list. “I got her extra-large.”
“No. You better get her double extra-large.”
“No! I think extra-large.”
“Oh! Look!” said one of the ladies, “We’re getting closer. I can now see the numbers to the check-out stands.”
“Those are body counts,” said Jerry, referring to the people who died waiting in line.
The ladies chuckled at Jerry’s remark.
When our line slogged next to a saleslady, I asked her if it’s always this crowded on Thanksgiving. “Yes,” she said, “and we’ll have another rush at 5 a.m. when families come in with their children still in their pajamas.
Black Friday starting on Thanksgiving Day, or even after Thanksgiving Day, didn’t exist in my childhood. I recall eating turkey with relatives followed by a game of Scrabble. Those days are gone. Why sit around a table thinking up words when you could be saving money at the stores, standing in line for hours with strangers, and admiring your own endurance skills of waiting patiently without hitting anyone.
Jerry and I survived and made it to the register. It felt so rewarding to be at the counter at last, paying our money, realizing we were only moments away from driving home.
I saved $38. The original price tags are marked high so the discounts seem like a steal. I know that. I’m lulled into the deception anyway.
“I was right,” Jerry said. “We stood in line just about 2 hours. Ten more minutes and it would have been 2 hours exactly.”
“Thank you, Jerry, for standing in line with me. Think of this. I got to use my Kohl’s cash, so your travel cup was free. I know waiting in line that long was not something you wanted to do. I thought about leaving when we were halfway to the register, but then I thought, if we left~ all the time we had waited would be for nothing.”
“It’s okay. I know it was important to you,” Jerry said.
I had to think, would I stand in line with him for two hours for something he wanted to buy?
No, I don’t think so.
And this is why Jerry is a much better person than me.