At least I didn’t have to haul around a TV this time.

Until 2013 I’d never experienced the sheer joy of “Black Friday.” That was changed because of two things. Most stores began to start their sales on Thanksgiving and they built a Walmart in Sweetwater.

Back in what I guess are now the old days, Black Friday sales would start at 5 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving and every local news channel in the world would send some poor reporter to stand outside closed stores and ask people who should never be on TV why they were willing to start lining up sometimes 12 hours early in order to pay $200 for a TV that normally retailed for $550.

While this was going on I would be in bed sleeping peacefully, laughing in my dreams at the suckers who would get out of bed to save money they would eventually lose on a credit card bill.

Now, I just go with the flow because it’s much easier to go to a store at five in the afternoon than it is at five in the morning. And while the sales at everyone’s favorite superstore don’t start until 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, if you wait until then, finding a parking space will be a much tougher task than normal.

The first time I took part in the Black Friday 12 hours earlier phenomenon it was because we needed a new TV (our old one had literally coughed once, gave us the finger and died). There was a 60-inch smart TV (yes, it is smarter than you and me) and they were asking less than $700 (okay, $1 less) and if you were there between 6 and 8 p.m., it could be yours. Otherwise you’d pay the regular price of $1,099 for it.

It was a weird experience. We went early, around 3:30 p.m., and received a wristband that said we were now eligible to buy the TV if there were any left when they got to us. We then made the colossal mistake of going home and thinking it’d be all right if we went back a few minutes before six.

We ended up spending about 30 minutes circling the store looking for a parking space and finally found one behind the store where delivery trucks usually leave their diesel engines running. We made our way in and got in line to buy the TV.

What actually happened was we paid our money and were given a receipt and told to drive over to the garden section and pick it up. We did that and then took off out of Dodge.

The next year the plan was nothing more than to pick up a bunch of cheap DVDs and video games. Except, of course, the sister-in-law needed a TV and decided to ride down with us, so once again there was a wrist band, the purchase of a receipt and this time a drive around to the back of the store to pick it up.

This year, there was an attempt to put the TV onus on us (hee, hee) again, but we headed it off and patiently explained you could order it online for the same price and pick it up at the store a couple of days later and avoid the crowd. Then, it was time to hit the movies and video games.

Along with half the population of Sweetwater, it appeared. I made some new friends as we stood there guarding our potential video purchases (the store wouldn’t allow us to pick them up before six), including what I thought was a 14-year-old girl until she told me she was buying DVDs instead of blue rays because you had to save every dollar you could when you have a 2 year old.

Apparently, I’m terrible when it comes to guessing a person’s age.

I thought for a moment there was going to be a fight at the video game display (I was hoping for it, actually) but there was more than enough to go around and soon we were all on our way, clutching videos that may or may not be watched and video games that will soon be $10 as a regular price.

But it was a communal experience and we all were the better for it. Especially since it didn’t involve a TV. 

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