I’ve seen a Tim Kaine special session, I’ve seen how Richmond runs Republican campaigns, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as disorganized and futile as shopping on Black Friday at a Toys-R-Us. I now know why God invented online shopping.
First, why do so many parents take their small children with them Christmas shopping? Will this new generation of short attention spans actually be surprised on Christmas morning to open the toys they went shopping for a month earlier?
And besides, since their parents have the shopping cart overflowing with giant toys, most of these young Americans were walking.
In a toy store?!?! “Bobby. Bobby. C’mon Bobby. Stop looking at the toys, Bobby. Stop holding up the 27 people trying to get passed you, Bobby. Bobby, put that down.” Multiply that by about 100.
And former VDOT executives must be managing Toys R Us nowadays, since half the aisles were purposely barricaded so that people couldn’t get to the cash registers except through one entranceway. That meant going down one aisle to a dead end, turning around and then going into another aisle with its own dead end. It was just like construction on the highway, except at least on the roads traffic moves and you aren’t forced into 15 U-turns.
I’m not sure what the Fire folks would think of such a setup. It got worse when they corralled you to the cash register. Employees actually directed you to a register, and God help you if you made a wrong turn, because the lines were blocked into sections. If you were in checkout line 13, you had a barricade next to aisle 15 and aisle 12.
I did find one thing interesting. You know the section with all the educational toys? It’s great for cutting through the traffic. It was like an HOV lane. High Occupancy brain cells? You can fly though! There were so few people in the educational section, especially the parts with books, that I swear I heard crickets. Without those smart toys, I would’ve easily added an hour or two to my shopping experience.
The fun part was listening to adults do math. I actually listened to one person verbally debate herself whether $19.99 was less than $29.99 with 10% off. At that point, I was wondering how much it mattered, since her inability to do basic math negates any benefit she’d derive from saving money.
And, no, it wasn’t in the educational toy section.
I do feel bad for grandparents, though, and there were a lot of them shopping today. Of everyone, they should really wait until Monday. The sales aren’t that great, and running the gauntlet of high-speed Demolition Derby via cart isn’t exactly what they’re equipped for.
Needless to say, this recession didn’t seem to stop toy shopping today. Of course, when I was a kid, inflation was over 14% instead of today’s 4%. Unemployment was 11%, instead of today’s 6%, and a 30-year mortgage had a whopping 18% interest rate.
Maybe we whine a bit too much. What we call “a depression and the worst economy ever” would be a boom compared what our parents went through.
But I did survive my toy trek, but not before wishing I did it all online, and thinking we really should give an online shopping tax credit to seniors, and people with small children, and for that matter people with large children, and for that matter….me!