November 2008 Column Winner

Charge of the Black Friday Brigade

By Jeff Mullin, Enid News & Eagle

With apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson:

Half an aisle, half an aisle, half an aisle onward, all in the valley of debt rode the 600, "Forward the Black Friday Brigade, charge for the toy department," he said, into the valley of debt rode the 600.

 They arrived in line at 2 a.m. and breakfasted on leftover yams, wrapped in the wool of lambs, did these brave shoppers; they pored over catalogs and flyers, these stouthearted, noble buyers, plotting the way to buy gold jewelry, fleece coats and turkey fryers, all with $600.

At 4 a.m. the doors flew wide, and all those assembled sprinted inside, trampling a young clerk named Clyde, but he's expected to recover; "Forward the Black Friday Brigade," was there a man dismayed? Not though the shoppers knew someone had blundered. Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to shop and buy: Into the valley of debt rode the 600.

Flat-screens to the right of them, laptops to the left of them, X-Boxes in front of them, their low prices thundered; stormed at with discount and rebate, boldly they rode, and great; into the jaws of poverty, into the mouth of bankruptcy, rode the 600.

Flashed all their credit cards bare, flashed as they were swiped in air; charging the trinkets here and there, charging like madmen while all the world wondered: Plunged in the holiday cheer, all they wanted was a beer; Their paychecks and budgets reeled from the credit card stroke, their savings shattered and sundered, then they rode back not, not with $600.

Elmos to the right of them, iPods to the left of them, Hannah Montana behind them, their low prices thundered; grabbed at, elbowed, cursed and pushed until they fell, they that had shopped so well, came through the jaws of debt, back from the mouth of hell; with all that was left of it, left of $600.

Their shopping baskets they filled with swag, too much to fit in one small bag, but the checkout clerks did lag, stalling their exit; They had long lists of things to get, from Blu-Ray players to Chia Pets; it was a day they won't soon forget, the gallant 600.

All at once there went up a cry, GPS devices were on special on aisle five, so back into the melee they did dive, with no hint of trepidation; shopping carts clashed, grandpa's cane flashed and despite little Johnny suffering a nasty gash, the prize was collected.

They gave no thought to kith and kin as they swarmed over each successive bargain bin, though they knew greed is a mortal sin, they were beyond caring; war is hell this is a given, but those who have striven to secure bargains the day after Thanksgivin' know the Black Friday battles aren't much better.

When can their interest payments fade? Oh all the wild charges they made! All the world wondered. Honor the charges they made, honor the Black Friday Brigade, noble $600 (which after buying enough gas to get home and a couple of super-duper greaseburgers for lunch, was down to about $1.62).

The end. But actually, with just over three weeks left until Christmas, it is just beginning.