Around the Bend: Early deal ruins Black Friday fun

For years, I’ve spoken out against shopping on Black Friday. But this year, for the first time, I almost joined the wild, deal-grabbing crowds.
I’m not opposed to Black Friday in theory. On the contrary; I can think of no better way to kick off a joyful Christmas season than by abandoning all goodwill toward others in the shameless and maniacal pursuit of cheap material goods. I just prefer to celebrate the day after Thanksgiving the way our Founding Fathers intended it, by lying around all day eating leftovers and napping.
This year, however, was going to be different.
For several months we’ve been saving up for a flashy, new high-def flat-screen TV. (Winter is coming, after all; how better to spend those long nights than scrutinizing the startlingly detailed on-screen images and pointing out which TV stars are in need of an upper lip waxing?)
I had zeroed in on the perfect model, though it was a bit out of our price range. But a week before Thanksgiving I saw it advertised for 40 percent off on Black Friday. 
At that moment, I decided our Founding Fathers only advocated for a post-Thanksgiving rest day because wall-size LCD TVs with edge-lit LED screens, 1080p resolution and wireless connectivity had not yet been invented. My change of heart is documented in a picture of me taken later that day, which shows my pupils actually shaped like dollar signs. Scary.
But I knew that without any martial arts training I was ill equipped to compete with the hordes of shoppers who would be body-checking me in a bid for my future TV. I started training that day.
Monday, in between hitting the speed bag and jumping rope, I worked on the finer points of my shopping strategy: I called the store to request a copy of the building’s floor plan, with all exits and aisles highlighted; to find out how many TVs would be available; and to double-check the sale price.
The salesperson refused to send me any floor plans (so much for customer service). She did tell me, however, that according to her computer, there would be only three of these TVs in stock on Black Friday, and yes, the sale price was indeed a whopping 40 percent off.
Then she added, “Actually, the sale started yesterday.”
Excuse me?
“Um, yeah,” she said. “You can come in on Black Friday at 4 a.m., fight your way to the electronics department and duke it out for one of the three TVs at the risk of getting your face ripped off, or I can order you one of the same TVs now, at the same price, and you can pick it up Wednesday afternoon.”
It was a tough call.
After some deep soul searching lasting several nanoseconds, I decided I’d rather spend Thanksgiving on the couch counting NFL players’ eyelashes on a giant high-def TV than in the basement learning to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. We brought the new set home Wednesday night. It was that easy.
Yes, the TV is fantastic. But I don’t feel like I earned it. I spent three days preparing to forgo my dignity, personal safety and beauty sleep to fight for it, and I never got the opportunity.
Even worse, apparently this year’s Black Friday sales were more exciting than ever, with not only the usual stampedes and fistfights but also shoppers using pepper spray, cops using Tasers, a few armed robberies and some stray gunshots. And I missed it all.
I learned lots of online stores had offered Black Friday sales starting several days before Thanksgiving and running right through “Cyber Monday,” giving Internet shoppers all the low prices of Black Friday with none of the crowds, noise or danger of bodily harm.
What fun is that?
Fortunately, businesses are already responding to complaints from people like me. I hear next year Amazon and Best Buy will bring a more realistic Black Friday experience to those of us who want the thrill but prefer to stay home.
Online stores will not only offer deep discounts and free shipping, but if you enter the coupon code MOBSCENE12, they’ll even send an unruly band of stressed-out, highly caffeinated shoppers to trample you in the comfort of your own home.
I’m in.

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