Ready, Set, Go!

Black Friday is close at hand. One of the busiest shopping days of the Christmas holiday is easily one of the most dangerous.

All you need to do is look at the news stories in the days following Black Friday to get a taste of chaos retailers face on just this one particular day.  Every year there are reports of disturbances in waiting lines, ranging from minor clashes to shootings because someone was perceived to be jumping the line.

Some retailers handle this holiday crush better than others by handing out a number to waiting customers and employing security to help keep the lines and customers orderly. Some of the smaller stores limit the number of people who may enter at any given time. Others do not.

One retailer, who I won't mention, has been known to  let customers line up at the various displays, in the store, and wait for a count-down. This is where the order starts to break down. The crowd then rushes the displays where employees hand out the special, sale-priced items to now what can only be described as a crushing mob of people.

Order quickly breaks down and the crowd rushes the display, panicking employees who now are throwing boxes through the air into the shouting crowd. To make matters worse, the retailer had blocked avenues of retreat. They blocked areas with boxes and black plastic to help control the crowd. This action seems to have had a less that desired effect. Some are pushed to the ground in the crowd stampede. One customer is hit in the head with a box of merchandise and falls to the floor, bleeding. She is stepped on in the ensuing rush. The outcome is that she suffered a severe head injury with reported brain damage. This customer is now suing the retailer for millions of dollars.

I know Black Friday sales have become a holiday tradition, but I just do not understand it. There is nothing I want to buy that endures me to stand outside in the wee hours on a cold morning. I have relatives who do stand in line every year. I just don't see it. I think "Cyber Monday" is a much safer event.

- Curtis Baillie

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