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Panic at the Disco-unt


Originally published at

I’ve got a little bit of a shopping problem.  I was at Costco, and I almost bought a TV that we didn’t need.  It was an open box, and the guy in the red vest and walkie-talkie was going to try to get me 30% off.

Thanksgiving is here, which also means so is Black Friday.  A friend forwarded me this site,, which is a pretty awesome rundown of what’s going down the day after the turkey did.  They posted the ad showing what wares the Wal-Mart will have on that dreaded retail hell-day.  The prices on electronics were so cheap; there’s a laptop for under $200, but it also brought back the horrid memory of that day that has me ruing Black Friday and Wal-Mart all the same.

It was about five years ago.  The sun had not yet risen, and the Thanksgiving pie had barely settled.  Uncharacteristically, it was a chilly Southern California November. There were hundreds of us huddled single-file outside the Cerritos Towne Center Wal-Mart in what I can only imagine is a less civil version of the food line during the Irish Potato famine.  The doors cracked open at 5:00 a.m.  Any later would have incited a riot.

We scurried in, not like cattle but like some other, much less docile, creatures.  An old lady about 5″2″ cut me off and ran her shopping cart over my foot without so much as a “pardon.”  I can only assume she didn’t know the English equivalent.  Like a lone bee in a slow moving swarm, I made my way to the electronics department.  Suddenly, the line stopped moving ahead.  I couldn’t see what the hold up was, but the mass of people continued to pack in from behind.  I was literally smashed in a sea of shoppers, and claustrophobia crept nervously to my brain.  It was all I could do to keep from acknowledging the wave of panic.  My fight or flight instincts were ripe, and I was one painful childhood incident away from charging through the throng of shoppers like one of USC’s six tailbacks.  But I relented, not wanting a reprise of The Who Concert I attended in ’79.

When I finished my breathing exercises (read: hyperventilating), I made my way to the computer counter only to find there were only 20 of those laptops per store and they were all gone.  Out of spite, I wanted to force the guy to “call around” to other stores.  My anger was only quelled by the fact that I had, in my mind’s eye, just moments before, narrowly escaped death.

Dejectedly, I retreated to the parking lot in the pre-dawn glow of the street lights.  I drove home in a wordless stare then scurried up the stairs and covered myself in my full-price 300-thread-count sheets.  I was careful not to stir my sleeping wife lest she wake and make me recount the details of the whole horrifying event…

Oh, but happy shopping to you… On that Friday morning, I’ll be swaddled in sheets of my bed, which, incidentally, have since been upgraded to a 600-thread-count.

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