Day after Thanksgiving shopping expedition (The Writer's Cramp entry)
|Black Friday? Not for Scott
Scott could tell his weeks-long preparations were bearing fruit. Only ten hours in line and he had already seen fifteen guys lose their place due to 'calls of nature' or incipient cases of frostbite. Clearly, they had underestimated a bladder's ability to retain liquid when faced with the combined effects of a six-pack of beer and temperatures in the low teens. Their scarves and ballcaps hadn't been up to the challenge of a below-zero windchill, either.
He checked the charge on his battery-heated socks and gloves, then ate some more peanut butter-covered crackers and washed them down with a few sips of distilled water. He was reasonably warm, his diet of string cheese, peanut butter and crackers would keep him out of a restroom for hours yet, and his bladder felt fine; if it came down to it, though, he had an Army Surplus poncho and a field toilet. He had been preparing for weeks, ever since the first flyer from this new electronic equipment outlet - The Second Stage - had arrived in the mailbox. Inside the store were ten, and only ten, fifty-two inch HDTVs that would be on sale for less than a grand apiece - an unbelievable savings, even for factory second equipment; Scott had no intention of going home without one.
He checked his watch - thirty more minutes - moved his camp stool up another space, and went back to reading his third paperback of the night. At two minutes to six, he stowed the book and stool in his knapsack and prepared to make a dash straight to the southwest corner of the store. He could see the employees at the entrance, prepared to hand out raffle tickets to the entering customers. He'd already thought that one through, though - no stopping. Sure, the door prizes were fairly nice - personal stereos, MP3 players, boomboxes, and such - but slowing down enough to grab a ticket could cost him THE PRIZE, and no mere music player - whether pocket-sized or car-sized - was worth that.
At the beep! of six, the main doors opened and, with a surge that would do the offensive line of a pro football team proud, the crowd poured into the store, fanning out through every aisle. Scott cleared the entryway and immediately took a left, passed in front of two cross aisles, then took a right. At the end of the aisle, the Large Appliance crew was waiting, order books at the ready. They looked at each other nervously as they eyed the onrushing tide of humanity, the knapsack-toting man with the exceptionally determined look on his face causing particular concern. The department manager spoke a few quiet words, attempting to calm his little group. All six of them were seasonal hires, with no real idea of the potential disaster approaching at a brisk clip.
Scott walked up to the nearest one, pointed at the wall and said, "I'll take the third one from the left. Let's go to checkout." The sales clerk, initially nonplused by the customer's preemptive order, recovered himself, snatched the data card from the top of the television and turned back to the customer. Startled, he hustled to the register, where the now rather pleased-looking man was waiting for him.
"You are aware, sir," the clerk asked hesitantly, as he rung up the sale, "all Large Appliance items must be removed from the loading area within thirty minutes of purchase?"
"Not a problem, champ," Scott replied, grinning. He pulled a cellphone from his coat pocket and hit speed dial 1. "Larry? Bring in the truck, slot number...?" Scott looked at the clerk, expectantly.
"Oh...ah, number three, sir, right at the center of the dock!" the clerk answered.
"Number three, Larry," Scott repeated, smiling.
That night, as Scott and Larry watched incredibly sharp replays of the Detroit Lions getting destroyed - again - he reflected on the planning, the overnight camp-out, and the successful accomplishment of his mission. He'd gotten a great deal, and he could now forget about that no longer visible hole in the living room wall for a long, long time. He still couldn't believe that little coed could throw an ottoman all the way across the room and, on further reflection, decided he really should have at least tried to deflect it.
All in all, though, it was shaping up to be a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend.