Welcome to our regular Saturday feature “What Aggravates Me” by Comedian John Knight
Thanksgiving morning, I was up at the crack of dawn. The turkey had been cooking overnight so we could have it for breakfast. There was no time to waste sitting down to a meal. I shoved the turkey, some stuffing, mashed potatoes and broccoli casserole into a blender. Then I poured in some gravy and turned it to puree. I dumped it into a travel cup and was on my way.
“Old Navy” would be giving away a chance to win a million dollars beginning at six o’clock Thanksgiving night. The first five hundred people through the doors would receive a ticket with a chance to win. A winner would be announced at a later date. I imagine those of us with lucky tickets would get to go to the magic “Old Navy” factory, like they did in “Willy Wonka,” to find out who won.
When I arrived I was shocked to be the first in line. I had feared there would already be thousands lined up and I would have no chance at all. The fact they were giving away tickets at all seven hundred stores didn’t discourage me. A one in three hundred fifty thousand chance was better than none at all.
The thing that bothered me was the lack of a sense of urgency. I mean, I was here and nobody else was coming. It was hours before a few others began to line up behind me. It just wasn’t like the Black Fridays of the past and I began to feel nostalgic.
In years past the stores wouldn’t open until sometime after midnight on Friday. They also would have a limited amount of target items for unbelievable low prices. This would lead to a lot a pushing and shoving and rioting in the true spirit of Black Friday.
One year Wal-Mart announced they would have three forty inch HD TV’s available at each store for twenty five dollars each. Edwardo Electronico, Guatemala’s finest brand. The stores would open at midnight on Thanksgiving night. I got there Sunday evening.
When I arrived there were already three people in line. They eyed me up suspiciously as I took my place behind them. There were other target items available but we knew what the others were after. It would be sometime on Monday before anybody else arrived but they were meaningless to us. It would be a battle between the four of us for three TV’s.
I wouldn’t call it a camaraderie that built up between us during our days in line. It was more of an exploration of each other’s weaknesses. Joe-Anne had been the first in line and I could tell she had a bit of a mean streak. She was going to be tough. Earl, on the other hand was very friendly. A little too friendly if you ask me. I couldn’t trust him. The fact he was overweight and out of shape made him vulnerable, he could be beaten. The third person ahead of me, Sammy, talked too much and got on my nerves. I wouldn’t feel bad about pushing him out of my way.
As the days went by you could sense the distrust among us. By Thursday morning we were no longer speaking. By that time there were probably six hundred people lined up but they didn’t matter. This battle was between the four of us.
Around five o’clock that evening, the time non bargain hunters are sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner, I pulled out a bottle of bourbon. I called a truce between the four of us and we drank to Thanksgiving. Well the others drank, this was all part of my plan. Around seven, Sammy said he was going to take a nap. I think he drank almost the whole bottle. He laid down on the freezing cement and was snoring within seconds.
Five minutes to midnight and there must have been thousands in line. You could feel the crowd begin to push forward and you knew things would get ugly. Sammy wasn’t moving at all and I was sure he had choked to death on his own vomit while sleeping. I was now third in line.
The gates went up at midnight and the surge forward was frightening. I knew a lot of us weren’t going to make it, but I could get a TV for twenty five dollars. As the doors blew open Joe Anne took off like a shot. I’m not a very fast runner and she left me in the dust. Earl never had a chance. He went down like a thud and the crowd trampled over him. It was now between me and some new guys for the other two TV’s.
As I was leaving Wal-Mart with my prized possession, they were loading Earl into the ambulance. He was lucky, just some bruises and minor sprains. Sammy was awake and swearing at me as I walked by with my forty inch Edwardo. The thrill of victory hanging in the air.
The television blew up sometime between Christmas and New Year’s. They said I could have it repaired but I had to go to Guatemala. It didn’t matter, the television may be gone but that Thanksgiving memory will last forever.
Follow John on Twitter @jknight841