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November 25, 2011 - Kylie Saari
Thanksgiving night, instead of crawling into my bed and drifting off remembering the day full of family and food, I got on my jacket, stopped at the office for a camera and notebook and went searching for Black Friday lines to take pictures of for the paper.
I'll admit I was skeptical that there would be many lines at midnight, as Wal-Mart is open all the time and it was the first year Shopko didn't wait until four or five a.m. to open its doors.
So when I rounded the road and caught a glimpse of the line stretching from the doors of Shopko all the way to the street I was both surprised and, I'll admit, a little happy.
I spent many early morning hours over the past two decades bundled up against the cold in the wee hours of morning the day after Thanksgiving, singing carols with other shoppers and enjoying the general festive atmosphere that always seemed to accompany the event.
I has been a couple of years since I ventured out for Black Friday, and as I drove through the crowed parking lot I thought of the easy pictures — the smiles, the excitement, the Christmas spirit.
But that is not what I encountered.
There was a desperation among the line this year, a feeling that these shoppers needed the deals behind the doors to make it through the Christmas season. I tried chatting with a few, but was drowned out by shouts of people in the line who heckled those the felt might be budging in line. Anger seemed to be the predominate emotion. There was no singing, no one dressed in Santa hats.
Once inside, the feeling didn't change. People waiting in line for over an hour just to checkout, the line snaking through the store. The employees were great, they were helping people and dealing with the chaos well, but there was no apparent seasonal joy in the act of choosing gifts to shower on loved ones.
I made it out of the store, hoping to get a few shots of satisfied shoppers with loaded carts smiling their way to their cars. But no one was. I got a shot of the shoppers. I took a shot of an employee being stampeded, but as I was also being stampeded the image was shaky.
I hope the people who seemed so down during their shopping spree are able to recover the joy of the season. But I think I might just stay away from Black Friday for a few more years.
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