I get out of the car, take a deep breath, and head for the door, grabbing an abandoned shopping cart as I passed it. I figured that may be the only chance I had to get one (and I was right). All the way to the door my instinct kept telling me to turn around and run, just go back home, but I just kept repeating to myself, "You can do this, you can do this..." Because, you see, I am claustrophobic. But when I did look back, I was reminded that I couldn't leave because my car was still spewing smoke.
Back up just a little... Years ago, when I first began Black Friday shopping, I got as far at Walmart as pulling into the parking lot and my teenage kids went in with my list. And I had a hard time even just being in the crowded parking lot. Then after we left there, I would go in with my kids to the not-quite-so-packed stores. After a couple of years of this, my kids made me start going in with them at Walmart. We would still split up with our lists and meet back at the front, but one or two would always stay with me, ready to distract me if a claustrophobia attack hit (actually, it was when). But I could never go into the Electronics Department. I would panic just looking at the crowd in that department! Then, they finally made me go in at Walmart by myself as they went to other stores, but kept phone contact with me. Then last year, I was completely on my own. The kids had finally weaned mom. I am still claustrophobic, sometimes worse than others, but this process we ended up going through over the years has greatly helped. Thanks kids!!!
And now, I was on my own..... and the one item I needed the most was in .... ELECTRONICS!! Last year I couldn't even make it as far as the DVDs without feeling the panic coming on. But I was going to do this! But first, the 6-quart Crockpot. The small appliance sale began at 10pm, Electronics at midnight. I have pretty much worn my 4-quart out making so many consecutive batches of Pear Butter. I began to move through the store, elbow-to-elbow with the masses of people (more than I had EVER seen in Walmart all at once), trying to drift my mind into another peaceful place, far, far away. I made it to the area where I thought the small appliances would be (I was also suppose to pick up an electric mini chopper for someone) ... nothing. I swam through to the next area... lots of nearly bare pallets, but not what I was looking for. I found a clerk and asked him, he assuredly pointed me to the other side of the store! (we are talking, the largest Walmart in Oklahoma, last I checked) Okay, I really could use that Crockpot and it is only 1/3 of its usual cost, so I head over that way ... very, very slowly, each aisle a one-way flow. On my way past Electronics, I noticed that the lines for the midnight sale were already formed and long! It was only 10:15pm! My heart sank, a panic wave began to cross, and I quickly took my mind back to my dreamy place as I moved to the other side of the store. Once there I found lots of pallets, some with a few items left, many completely empty. I was also looking for the $1.28 Bath Towels in that area but quickly found out that they never got them in..... bummer. Found another clerk, asked for the Crockpots and choppers, was pointed in yet another direction.... back on the original side of the store I started on! Six different places I was sent to! Sheesh!!! I finally found where they had been, but no more Crockpots nor mini choppers. The choppers .... I was told that they only got a few of them in and were gone in about a minute. In years past, even last year, they had several appliances available for this big sale, and LOTS of them in stock. Not this year. All throughout the store there seemed to be only a few items of each thing. But I did get kind of lucky. They had just set out some unadvertised, single cup coffee makers... you know, the kind you just set your coffee cup under. These were really nice, too. They made a really large cup (or small if you wanted), had a permanent filter, and you could use your own grounds or the pods. I had been wanting one of those, but too many necessities were way above it on my list. They weren't in the ad and they had just set them out for $4! Yep, I have one, now. So, on to the Electronics to gulp get in line.
I took a deep breath and plunged into the ocean of smelly people. Let me tell you, whoever had the bright idea of starting the sale-of-the-year immediately after masses of people had just stuffed themselves to overflowing with rich, gaseous foods, with no time to shower after the days events and before the sale, needs to be tossed into the Bog of Eternal Stench and left there for a few hours! There was a loooong stretch of shrink-wrapped pallets and I couldn't see far enough ahead to see where what I was needing was. As long as the lines were, I figured I was out of luck by that point (remember, the lines had started long before 10pm for this stuff), but I was here, so I may as well try. I was there to get a camcorder and a better digital camera (I had been saving gift money and both items were for jaw-dropping prices). I couldn't get close enough to see the plastic wrapped pallets, so I began asking around. I finally found out that the camera I had come for was at the pallet a few feet down (two or three lines down), but the camcorder was over at the other end of electronics! Noooooooooooooo.............. And a clerk said that there were only a few of the camcorders (It, too, was well under half price). I figured that there was now no way I was going to land one, but I was going to try. So I kissed the idea of a better digital camera good-bye and went for the camcorder. Once again, I couldn't figure out which line to get into so I found a clerk and asked, yelling over the people between us. She asked which one I wanted, said there were only a couple left unaccounted for, and told me whom to stand behind in line. She even politely suggested that a few people shift over a little and let me through (I could have hugged her!). It is 11pm, and I am finally in line, surrounded by masses of smelly people, and the excitement of probably finally getting the camcorder that I have been trying to get for 2 years, is far overriding my claustrophobia. A small child not far behind me was wailing in pure terror at the sight and chaos of the crowd. This was NO PLACE FOR A SMALL CHILD! And those parents were trying to corral about 4 of them!
So we are all anxiously waiting in our lines, an hour to go. We converse some amongst ourselves, while focusing on watching out for pushy people trying to get ahead of us. And they did try! A couple of people were, as I use to be, with a group. So one or two would stay in the line with the cart (we had made a barricade with the carts to keep people from cutting into our line) while the rest of the group went to hunt down other things on their list. Around 11:30 they rolled out the tall, shrink-wrapped cart of electronics. Our line immediately looks for the camcorders, counts them, and recounts the number in the line. Good! There's enough! Other people try harder to move in for the 'kill',. we stop chatting and guard our position. 11:45 comes and they decide to go ahead and pass the stuff out. Oh, the anticipation! We had to wait until they got down to ours... but ... I GOT IT!!! WOOOHOOOOO!!! I did it! All by myself! Now, to get back out of this mob.
I figured there wasn't a chance in the world that there would be one of the digital cameras left (Kodak 14 megapixels with all kinds of bells and whistles for $49), nor the Memory cards, but I was going to swim back through to the other side of Electronics and check anyway. Unbelievable!!! There were just a few of what I needed left! At last, it was time to head for the check-out....
to be continued (one more) . . . . . . . .