The Black Friday That Wasn’t

By Molly Hawkins

Staff Writer

At 5:45, my alarm went off, and by 7:20, our car rolled up in front of the entrance to the mall.

“This is so exciting! I’ve never been here this early,” I said to Millie Ness as we walked towards the door to Sears. “I bet people will, like, be fighting each other over washing machines and stuff everywhere.” I pushed open the two sets of doors and prepared myself for the scene that would be before me.

There were around eight people in sight, all of them standing rather calmly, admiring vacuum cleaners and refrigerators, coexisting peacefully. In fact, many of them looked like they needed a coffee.

“Dang it!” I said.

We found our way out to the center of the store, and I peered around for any signs of craziness, but it was more of the same: subdued shoppers milling around at paces slower than snails while Christmas music blared over the speakers. Millie suggested that maybe a store whose products were more intriguing than household appliances would contain more of the Black Friday bustle I was expecting, so we made our way over to Forever 21. However, the only thing somewhat out of the ordinary was the length of the line for the checkout, which ran to the door.

So we just went about our business and did some shopping for a while until a little while later when we were walking along the second floor and heard substantial noise coming from below us.

“Wow, Victoria’s Secret sure is packed,” Millie said. “Maybe something’s going on in there.”

Bingo. We went down to the first floor and into the store to find, yes, a lot of people, even a few disheveled racks of clothes, but nothing insane, or even close to insane.

Then, I thought of something. If there was no crazy to find, why couldn’t I make my own? I grabbed something random off a hanger, cut the entire line for the dressing rooms, ran right by the employee who started yelling to me about measuring me for bra size, and dove under the back dressing room door in one fell swoop. Then I waited.

Nothing. No one banging on my door, upset at me for cutting. No employee angry at me for diving under the door. When I walked out of the stall minutes later, no one even blinked an eye. They just kept their gazes glued on the screens of their phones or inside their shopping bags. I gave up on attempting to wreak havoc, until I accidentally almost did.

In Abercrombie and Fitch, I had just found a really cute flannel shirt I wanted to buy, but the line for the dressing room was so long, and I wasn’t about to pull my Victoria’s Secret stunt again.

“Just try it on over your other shirt,” Millie suggested. As I flung out my arm to try to fit it through the sleeve, I accidentally punched a woman square in the face. I froze.

“Now you’re in for it,” I thought, waiting for her to get angry. But all she did was give me this little half-smile, almost like an apology for being in the way of my fist, and walked away. That pretty much did it for me; after punching someone and receiving a smile in return, I counted out anything wild happening.

So why did I want to see something happen so badly, I wondered, and even worried given the neurotic nature of my wish. After all, I never wanted to see anyone actually get hurt. I just wanted to see something that would make people tear their eyes away from their shopping bags, from their phones, from the displays in the window cases.

And that’s the thing–nothing could. Whatever I did, I couldn’t get anyone to look up from their bags and their shopping for more than a moment’s time. Deep down, I think that’s what really bothered me: the monotony of it all, the lack of passion. How over-zealous the music blaring through the speakers was while everyone’s faces screamed of nothing but indifference. The fact that there were so many people in that mall, yet everyone just walked around the whole day ignoring one another completely while giving so much attention to things in window displays. We tend to forget that we have so much more to gain from each other than a new TV or pair of shoes. And that’s just so sad.