Sorry for the unannounced hiatus Friday. I was having a birthday. (Yes, Mindy and Vince, I got the e-cards. Very amusing.) It was a birthday made more marvelous by the brief visit of John and Sam, aka my tech guy and his wife the archaeologist, who came through en route from here to there on one of their many travels. (They live in Atlanta when they aren’t putting miles on their Explorer.)
This makes approximately the 20th time they’ve visited since the last time I visited them. I think I owe them one.
But their visits here are always so pleasant. That’s one thing about old friends; you just get each other. On Friday, we went first to lunch at a Mexicantown taqueria, then to John King Books, then to Pewabic Pottery, which strikes me as just about a perfect day. I am a pretty cheap date (mainly because we only bought one little Christmas ornament at Pewabic).
My gifts this year included a ball of kitchen string (private joke), a knife sharpener, a cheap paperback of an old Martin Cruz Smith book I haven’t read and the new Rodney Crowell CD. I can ask for nothing more.
But now it’s Sunday, time to plan the week ahead and look over the week just left behind. I see Lance briefly made Memeorandum for his post on Black Friday in his part of the world, which was pretty much the way it was in many other parts of the world, at least those with Wal-Marts:
Yesterday, before dawn, when the sensible Whos down in Whoville were still asnooze, the valiant, the thrifty, the brave, the desperate, the greedy, and the addicted to shopping, lined up outside stores and malls across America, visions of bargain-priced laptops and exorbitant but rare Xbox 360s dancing in their heads. At a Wal-Mart near here hundreds gathered behind a rope waiting anxiously until a clerk pronounced the Christmas season underway with, according to one shopper, these festive words:
“On your mark. Get set. Kill each other.”
What followed, Lance reports, was much of what made the Friday-night highlight reel on the TV news here — rampaging crowds trampling women, security guards kicking the crap out of line-jumpers, the usual Christmas cheer. I was interested to note that clerks at Lance’s Wal-Mart actually stood on counters and threw boxed electronics into the crowd. I don’t know if this was out of fear of being trampled, the way you throw meat at a hungry beast, or if it was just some smartass “kill each other” trick to get the proles whipped up.
Regular readers know I’m no fan of Wal-Mart, although I don’t get frothy about it; my feeling is, if you’re looking for bullies in the world of business, Wal-Mart has plenty of company, company that likely includes many others I do business with. I knew nothing of this the first time I entered a Wal-Mart — I just thought the stores were crummy and cheap-looking. I didn’t start hating them until they ran that commercial about the old man who simply loves shucking and jiving as a Wal-Mart greeter in his blue smock. The things I’ve learned about the company have not disabused me of my feelings, but these day-after-Thanksgiving shenanigans are something else, and the company should have to answer for them.
Note this line from the story in Lance’s local paper, the Times-Herald: The crowd rushed to the back of the store, hoping to snatch up what customers called a dismally scarce supply of cheap laptops, portable DVD players and cell phones.
“Dismally scarce” — that’s the key. I don’t know how limited quantities have to be before “limited quantities” becomes an outright lie and “availability compares to that of winning Powerball tickets” is closer to the truth, but I suspect these Black Friday sales push it as far as it can go. The whole thing is a trick to get the cash registers jingling early and get the news cameras rolling. And call me a mushy old liberal, but I don’t blame the pushers and shovers as much as I blame Wal-Mart, for the same reason I think drug dealers are worse than drug users. Who should know better? Everyone, but especially Wal-Mart. Wait until someone gets seriously hurt in one of these publicity stunts. Just wait. If I were a personal-injury lawyer, I’d be carpet-bombing that crowd with business cards. If ever there was an attractive nuisance, this qualifies.
I think I’m feeling a bit testy because a freelance job I was gunning for fell through today, one that would have solved my cash-flow problems, provided a new challenge and been kind of fun, too. I broke with my usual policy of never getting my hopes up, perhaps because I’m still capable of being seduced by encouragement like, “You sound absolutely perfect for this.” Oh, well. I’m taking this as a sign that another project I was considering, one that would have been back-burnered indefinitely if the first thing had come through, is meant to be. Nose back to grindstone. Tomorrow is another day.
And how can one feel blue when the living room now contains the magnificence that is…the Barbie tree:
basset said on November 28, 2005 at 12:59 am
meanwhile, a particularly well-turned phrase elsewhere on Memeorandum:
“And finally, thank you for Bill Frist. He’ll make a fine president: The ethics of Nixon, the brains of Ford.”
Dorothy said on November 28, 2005 at 7:43 am
Sorry to hear about the freelance prospect going belly up. But I’m sure something else is just around the corner. I’m a firm believer in everything happening for a reason.
In the mean time, put on that Rodney Crowell CD and BLAST it! We saw him live here in Greenville in August and loved his show. I pre-ordered the CD because I was crazy about the first song “Say You Love Me.” Play it over and over a few times and learn the words, and you’ll forget about the lost job rulllllll fast! (The Obscenity Prayer is my second favorite)
Dorothy said on November 28, 2005 at 8:11 am
Ooops – and belated Birthday greetings to you too!
MichaelG said on November 28, 2005 at 9:07 am
mary said on November 28, 2005 at 12:46 pm
Having had four job placements I thought were done deals die in the last five months, I can relate to the sick feeling losing a freelance job causes. I blame mine on the shortage of nurses, the people I place in jobs. Too many people fishing for very few fish right now, all using their best bait. It does make the cash flow pretty dicey.
Laura said on November 28, 2005 at 12:53 pm
My husband and I went to see Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash about ten (or so) years ago. One of my favorite parts was Johnny’s ‘ex son-in-law’ set, featuring tunes written by Rodney Crowell, Nick Lowe, Marty Stuart and one or two others.
mary said on November 28, 2005 at 2:38 pm
Thanks, by the way for the Pewabic site. Gorgeous stuff. I may need one of those mugs. A vase would be nicer, but mugs are more my speed finacially right now.
joodyb said on November 28, 2005 at 3:24 pm
If ever i can crack the code of flickr, i would love the see the Barbie tree in its entirety. having missed out on that girly xmas thing.
vince said on November 28, 2005 at 11:44 pm
“Limited Supplies” = 10. At Best Buy (which also did the cheap laptop bait & switch in the best Wal-Mart fashion) the teeny tiny print on the ad noted only 10 computers per store were available at that under-$400 price.
Dwight the Troubled Teen said on November 29, 2005 at 9:56 am
Okay, “You are a mushy, old liberal.”