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SHOPPING ON BLACK FRIDAY

I would love to say that shopping the day after Thanksgiving isn't all that bad. I would love to claim that it's just another day, just like any other, where people get bored and decide to go to the mall simply to kill time. But I can't. Because I'd be lying.

In my family, this is a day to be feared. It's a day when you simply decide to forget leaving the house at all and abandon all the day's errands because you know that once you hit the boulevard, you're in trouble. You know that chances are, you're going to be stuck in traffic for a while, even if you leave an hour and a half before you would normally leave your house. You just watch the news and see all the crazy people out there in the stores beating each other up just to save a couple of bucks. And since you're not there, you can laugh about it.

Well, this year I decided to be brave. I went shopping with the rest of the mobs on Black Friday. And since it's no fun to go alone, I dragged my mom along. She still hasn't forgiven me.

We got to Target at about 6:30 a.m. We weren't crazy enough to arrive at 3 a.m. like some people did. The store had already been open for awhile, and more people were trying to get out than in. And it seemed to me that most people had beat us to it, gotten their stuff and were in line for check-out. Obviously, there were still tons of people shopping, but it could have been worse. But even arriving at 6:30, a lot of what we wanted was sold out. Have you ever seen one of those feeding frenzies that they show on Animal Planet? Bottom line: they had NOTHING left. You know, where someone will throw some sort of bait to a school of piranhas or something and then they devour the carcass and suddenly nothing is left? It was kind of like that.

Going through Target, I pretty much just stayed close behind my mother who was blazing a trail with her shopping cart. Not that we actually needed the shopping cart for shopping since they were out of everything, but we just used it to make people move.

After fighting our way through Target, we drove off to Media Play, which was surprisingly uncrowded. I actually enjoyed going there. Good music, great movies, decent deals, and a really cute guy who kept offering to help me. And I got my Christmas shopping done. What more could I want?

Walmart was probably worse than Target. True, they had more of what we were looking for, but the people weren't as happy at this point because their caffeine was starting to wear off. That, and the people working there were starting to look a little worn and tired because people were yelling at them. The store was total chaos. People were knocking things down, practically climbing over one another to get things. Since I didn't want anything really badly at this point, I was able to enjoy the scene more than most of the people in the store.

The real fun began when we went to the Boulevard Mall. It started when we couldn't find a parking space so we started stalking people just to get their spot. We were following these people and it was so obvious what they were thinking: "Come on, kids, speed up. And don't look at the scary lady stalking us. It's OK. Just don't make eye contact with the crazy lady behind the wheel and maybe she'll go away." But hey, we got our space, so it was all good.

Now, inside the mall, it was a little bit crowded, but not too bad. I honestly thought it would be worse. And there were people standing outside the stores, trying to get you to come in and buy their stuff. Some were advertising free gifts with purchase, others handing out coupons, but some had more creative ways of catching your eye. Abercrombie and Fitch, for example, had some guy modeling jeans. And since they really wanted you to focus on these jeans, that's all he had on. I've never shopped in Abercombie and Fitch in my life, but let me tell you, I do now. Give me a break, I'm only human. I mean, it's not like I was one of those girls who were standing right outside the store, staring at this guy with drool hanging out of my mouth. But do you see how good advertising can be? Girls get the eye candy and the store makes a load of money. Everybody wins. Except the unfortunate guys who happened to walk into that store with their girlfriends and walk out by themselves, but hey, their mistake.

I tried to sell our parking space before we left the mall. I was standing outside our car with a sign saying I'd sell my space for ten bucks or highest bid. Unfortunately, my mother didn't find this very amusing and dragged me inside the car before anyone could make me an offer.

Outlet Mall was a different story. It was crowded and people were getting cranky because it was now 2 in the afternoon and all their caffeine had completely worn off. We left after half an hour. It just wasn't worth it.

Shopping that day was definitely a learning experience. I don't think I'd do it again. It was way too crowded and crazy. The only reason I can see for going would be the eye candy at the mall. Otherwise, NEVER AGAIN!!!

Samantha Salada is a sophomore at Starpoint.