One morning two Novembers ago, I awoke to find myself in someone else’s car on the bottom level of a parking deck.
One of my star-shaped earrings was jabbing me in the cheek, and I was buried under a pile of bags from Hollister and Abercrombie.
Although this may sound like a kidnapping, I had actually fallen victim to one of the best and worst of holiday traditions: Black Friday.
Every year, thousands of people camp out in front of shopping malls across the country and spend the wee hours of the morning racking up on Christmas presents at the lowest prices of the season.
My name is Kara Coleman, and I am one of those people.
For the past few years, I have ended my Thanksgiving Day with a power nap around 10 p.m., then set out on a Starbucks-fueled shopping expedition with my aunt and an assortment of girl cousins.
I cross every gift off my Christmas shopping list that day, but that’s not really why I go.
I shop on Black Friday because that’s the only time I can get a slice of Sbarro’s pizza at 4:30 in the morning, even if that means eating it while sitting Indian-style on the food court floor with total strangers because all the tables and chairs are occupied.
I do it because despite the horror stories that we’ve all heard, the people I encounter on Black Friday are really friendly. You have a lot of time to chat with someone if you’re standing behind them in line for an hour.
People will share with me who the recipients of their purchases are, their relationship to them, and an abridged version of their life stories by the time we make it to the cash registers.
And of course, I do it as a test of endurance, to see who the last one to crawl into my aunt’s SUV to sleep and become a reluctant casualty of the trip will be.
Once, my cousin fell asleep on a bed in the Belk Home Store while she was waiting for me to buy a Keurig. I thought she was just laying there and resting her eyes, until I actually had to wake her up so we could leave the store.
My aunt swears that I fell asleep on the couch in the Macy’s bathroom last year, but I think I was just closing my eyes for five minutes. Or twenty-five. I don’t really know.
Shopping on Black Friday is like seeing your favorite band in concert or going to the midnight premiere of the summer’s most anticipated movie. There’s excitement in the air, adrenaline and espresso are flowing through the veins of everyone there, and I experience the thrill of finding just the perfect gift for someone.
But perhaps the best part of Black Friday is the feeling that I get crashing into my own bed at 3 or 4 that afternoon, ready for some deep post-shopping rest. That is, if I don’t end up snoozing in the passenger seat on the way home.