Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving has passed us by, and after stuffing our faces with endless rations of food, it can only mean one thing: time go get more stuff! The Friday after Thanksgiving is colloquially known as "Black Friday" wherein everyone and their brother flocks to the mall to take advantage of the start of widespread bargains on stuff you don't need. XBox 360? They're on that like a bum on a ham sandwich. A cell phone that has a can opener, a screwdriver, and a TV remote control? Bought and paid for. They, the typical Americans, are ahead of the curve when it comes to throwing their money away at department store sales.

So why, exactly, is all of this craziness going on? Supply and demand, simply put. There are less XBox 360's than there are people who want them, and it's every shopper for him or herself! In the blue corner, we have a 5'4" 120 lb. mother of four whose popularity with her kids is resting on whether or not she can give them all 360 degrees of XBox! And in the red corner, we have a 6'1" 190 lb. father of two who is vying for custody of his kids and will stop at nothing to make them like him more than their mother! Let the card swiping begin!

Here's a handy guide to make sure that you can placate everyone in your family by getting them what they want, just like our two fighters in the blue and red corners. Enjoy!

Tips to Ensure Everyone Gets What They Want This Holiday Season
Get there early.
There's nothing worse than planning a day of shopping and realizing that once you get there, everyone is sold out of the product you want. It's best to get there three days before the product has even hit the shelves, so be prepared to bring a sleeping bag, a tent, several canteens filled with water, and at the very least, a hunting knife. Cannibalism isn't pleasant, but we're talking about seeing the glimmer in your child's eye when they open that voluminous box with the fancy Christmas tree-themed wrapping paper! Stop at nothing to get your family and friends what they want.
Put your credit card/cash in a safe, but easily-accessible place.
When I said "there's nothing worse than planning a day of shopping and realizing that once you get there, everyone is sold out of the product you want," I was lying. There is one thing worse: finally getting to the front of the line and having to fumble through your wallet/purse recklessly searching for your credit card, or that one penny to even out the payment so you can get a nice $5 bill back. Not only is it wasting a minute of the shopkeep's time, you're holding up the line! Put your cash/change/credit cards in an easily accessible pocket. I suggest shading away from wearing anything with excessive pockets. In fact, a T-shirt and shorts are your best friends despite the cold weather.
Never go out to your car in the middle of shopping to stow your bags away.
It's a horrible decision to interrupt your shopping by easing your travels and putting your bought items in your car. Carry everything with you, even if it's at the expense of your back. Time is money, and if you're wasting time walking to and from your car, you're going to have to wait even longer to give stores your money. So what if you have a 3x1x4' box that weighs 62 lbs. and is slowly ripping your shopping bag apart! Muscle up and sling that mother over your shoulder!
Never go bargain-hunting on Black Friday.
Don't even think about pricing items at two or more different stores, you have to accept the price of whichever store you find yourself in.
Use This Diagram

Now let's say that Store 1 has a price that you like, but you want to check out what Store 2 has to offer. With your walking speed, 27 ft./min., you would be walking 3 yds. (9 ft.; 20 sec.) to the first elevator (43 sec.). Then you would walk 6.3 more yds. (18.9 ft.; 42 sec.) to reach a stairwell that takes you 37 sec. to conquer. Following this is more lengthy walk at 13.3 yds. (39.9 ft.; about 1.5 mins.) to reach the second elevator that is the same as the first one (43 sec.). Now we're at the homestretch, a 7 yd. (21 ft.; about 47 sec.) walk to the other department store. That took you about 5 minutes and 30 seconds! In that time, you could have moved from 92nd in line to 86th at the other store! It's not worth wasting a little more than 1/12th of an hour trekking across the mall to compare prices.
Be organized!
Clutter is a shopper's worst enemy, so be sure to carefully organize your wallet/purse before venturing into the wilderness that is the local shopping mall. Empty your wallet/purse and carry only the bare necessities: cash, credit cards, checkbook, and your license. Sorry, your chewing gum is just going to get in the way of your Black Friday shopping experience. If anyone asks for some gum, give them a menacing glare, but don't say anything. They'll get the message. Also, be sure to stash your money in an organized manner, i.e. ascending/descending order. Alphabetizing your credit cards is also helpful; and don't forget a pen to accompany your checkbook (in case the shopkeep doesn't have one, or the pen at the store runs out).

Just to be on the safe side, you should print out that list and keep it with you at all times, except when you are holiday shopping. It will only get in the way and distract you from your goal of buying as much useless junk as you can. Speaking of useless junk, here's another guide on what to ask for during the holiday season. Enjoy this one, but not as much as you did the previous guide.

What to Request for This Holiday Season
XBox 360
XBox 360 It's the hot item on the market, and Microsoft has strategically put it on shelves right before Black Friday. Make sure you tell your family to spend whatever they have to to purchase this as soon as possible, because the sooner you play new video games, the cooler you are. There's no better feeling than being asked "Why weren't you in class yesterday?" only to answer "Oh, I wasn't sick as you most likely presumed; I was playing my brand new XBox 360!" That feeling will soon be relieved by discontent when your XBox 360 overheats and malfunctions.
Apple iPod
iPod If you put an Apple iPod on your wishlist, be certain that you emphasize how badly you need this item, for it is much too inconvenient not to be able to listen to music when you want, where you want. Why suffer through the poison that is the radio when you can have your family spend upwards of $300 on an iPod and its accessories? Double-check that you have specified which color iPod you want. A green iPod is no good when your favorite color is turquoise: the green one has worse sound quality and lower battery life than the turquoise one, of course.
Cell Phone
Cell Phone This is one of the fads in American culture that you just cannot live without: a cell phone is a necessity; a staple, if you will. Who knows? Maybe one day your car will veer off the highway into an embankment, where you will find yourself in a desert with no food or water in sight. Oh! But you got a cell phone as a present, and now you can whip it out to get yourself rescued! But the more important function of the cell phone is that you can sign onto the Internet to keep yourself occupied when you're in the bathroom at Wendy's.
Computer You need a better computer to play World of Warcraft. So ask for one! Disregard the fact that you're asking someone to spend around $600 just so you can better enjoy your online gaming experience, you have to have a lag-free five-hour gaming session whenever you want. Make sure that your computer has top-of-the-line equipment, so that you can run 275 unnecessary processes simultaneously, including, but not limited to: downloading music, playing online games, accessing multiple resource-gulping webpages at the same time, talking on Instant Messenger, and playing online poker, you multitasker, you.
Plasma TV
Plasma TV This, like the iPod, is a must-have this holiday season. What good is your current TV (which has basic cable; consider upgrading your cable package with your new plasma TV) that, for its breed, displays picture fine and delivers sound just as well? You need a plasma TV to be able to watch the Eagles play at Lincoln Financial Field. With your old TV, you felt like an apathetic waste of space sitting on his couch watching a football game. With your new plasma TV, you'll feel like an apathetic waste of space sitting on the Eagles' sideline watching a football game.

With these two handy guides helping you out this holiday season, you'll remember that the true meaning of this holiday season is not the religions of the Christian or Jewish, but the materials you have slaved 11 months at the office to buy. The meaning of Black Friday is not spending quality time with your family, rather, it is buying them what they want to placate them enough not to bother you for another three months. This year, drink extra eggnog at the family polyanna, for you have become a true American with your maxed-out credit card and empty wallet.