Black Friday

I’m not sure whether I reported this here on my blog, but I am working part time at a local store that specializes in bath and beauty products this Christmas. While I truly love this store (and all stores like it), I find myself constantly being tempted by the various sights, smells, and implied promises of happiness. Surrounded by gels, lotions, and scrubs, my commitment to simplifying is tested every day.

When I started work this morning at 3:30am, the mall was packed. I saw hordes of people coming to buy baskets and baskets of bath and beauty products. I saw how crazed people became trying to get those “deals.”

I just can’t help feeling that we’ve all been had. The stores create all this hype over products that we don’t need, and most like can’t afford. And we leave our beds to go fight crowds to get all this stuff that won’t satisfy. We spend a day being thankful for what we have, and the very next day we’re all about grabbing more for ourselves.

I’ve been watching the commercials pretty closely, and they promote some disturbing behaviors. There is already incredible pressure to find, wrap, and ship “the perfect gift.” In order to find that perfect gift, the commercials push you to get there first, no matter how rude you have to be to others. It’s insane.

Insane isn’t really the word. I watched people carry armfuls of bath and beauty products to the counter. They were already loaded down with goods from other stores, but felt the need to buy more from our store. It’s like we have an insatiable appetite for stuff. We’re conditioned to have this appetite for more, and to feel good when we purchase. And it’s been working. I could see the glee in their faces as they left the store carrying their booty.

I have to say, the shoppers in my store were pleasant for the most part. I’ve been told that there was a riot at a similar store in the mall. Customers were standing on tables, throwing merchandise, and shaming themselves in other ways. I guess that’s the Black Friday way.

My job puts me in a position to see just how pervasive consumerism has become. We buy and buy because we think it makes us happy. But it doesn’t. It only perpetuates a cycles of want, and we’re never satisfied.

Since I’ve worked retail before, I’ve known for a while that retail sales are just a game. I also see that I have been played just like everyone else. But I am sincerely trying to focus on more meaningful things.

So even though I am living a simpler life, I still found myself at the mall on Black Friday. But this time I was on the other side of the retail experience. The majority of my day, however, will be spent resting and writing. To me, that’s the way to spend the day after Thanksgiving.

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