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One Simple Rule



Everything you’ve heard is true; the holidays are coming. As if it isn’t enough that they return every year, lately they’ve been doing it earlier and earlier; this year the big-box whatchamacallits had their yuletide wares displayed on the day after Halloween, which is a full month before I even want to see a friggin’ Christmas tree. In a couple of years I suppose it’ll be Labor Day when they begin assaulting your ocular orbits with visions of merriment and splendor, along with exhorting you to drag your carbed-up ass out of bed at four in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving, freezing off said recently dragged ass while standing in line outside the store for two hours, risking death by Adidas when the poor minimum-wage-earning schmuck finally unlocks the door and the horde of bleary-eyed, ass-frozen, hive-minded thriftsters stampedes for the warm, succoring hole of commerce in order to save $10 on a blender. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

This year it’s different; this year many stores will eschew the traditional pre-dawn Black Friday openings and opt instead for opening on Thanksgiving Day, many of them at 8 p.m., but some as early as 6 p.m., with others conducting business on Thanksgiving like it’s just another day. That’s fine with me; many self-appointed defenders of American Tradition like to bitch and whine about the “death of Thanksgiving” and “family vs. greed,” but my values are not defined by the holiday hours of big-box retailers, or by the shopping habits of other people, so stores that stay open for 41 straight hours are not a threat to Everything That I Hold Pure and Good and Right. As long as your holiday plans don’t involve a high-powered rifle, a clock tower, and a 5000-word manifesto hand-lettered in 1-point Copperplate Gothic on a single Post-It note, I don’t give a roasted figgy shit what you do on Thanksgiving. Personally, you’re not going to catch me anywhere near a retail establishment over the course of Brown Weekend, but that’s because I’d rather eat my own face than associate — even by proximity — with people for whom “getting a bargain” is the highest priority on any day of the year.

If you do plan to brave the manic throng on either Thursday or Friday, please take a moment to first familiarize yourself with the following safety and courtesy guidelines rules rule from a handbook that I picked up while working in retail, published by the National Association for Systematically Teaching Your Customers Undeveloped Necessary Transaction Skills. Remember, the life you save might be your own, but the sanity you save will be everyone’s.

Rule le premier: The only rule of shopping in the immediate temporal vicinity of Thanksgiving Day is — you guessed it — don’t be a dick. That’s all you need to know. “That’s deceptively subjective,” one might say. “How might one know whether one is being a dick, and by what standard?” It’s simple; while shopping, imagine your child treating you in the same way that you’re treating other people — if you then want to slap the happy holiday fuck out of him, you’re being a dick. Stop it.

"Game over, Moon Pie!"

“Game over, Moon Pie!

If you don’t have a child, get creative; imagine the assistant manager at GameStop speaking to you in the same way that you spoke to her — if you then want to make a call to Grapevine and “get the bitch fired,” you’re being a dick. Stop it. (Though if you don’t have at least one kid, and you’re still out among the bleating undead lovely purveyors of thrift on Thanksgiving evening, you should probably make an appointment to talk about a few things with someone of a professional persuasion, ’cause…damn.)

Sure, a company needs money, but it doesn’t need your money more than it needs anyone else’s. A company needs customers, but it doesn’t need you in particular, so if you can’t buy a copy of Call of Duty: Ghosts for little Tyler-Dallas-Austin-Beaumont-Cameron-Houston-Galveston (or whichever city in Texas you named your kid after) without making Idi Amin look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in Ted Danson’s roast regalia, do the world a favor and stay the fuck home. If you can’t wait in line without derisively tossing your purchases on the counter when you finally get to the register and passive-aggressively looking away as though you’re not a nimrod, consider that the person you’re dealing with has probably been A) there all day, B) dealing with people like you, C) making very little money for a large amount of work, and D) in a constant state of weighing the value of his job and/or clean criminal record against the pleasure of watching you stagger around the store with a computer monitor imbedded in your skull. (That specific visualization got me through 2003.)

Stop it.

Stop it.

If you absolutely must go shopping in a brick-and-mortar retail establishment this holiday season, and you’re prone to occasional or regular assholery (yeah, you know who you are), don’t overestimate the average retail worker’s grasp on sanity, or his ability to continue giving that last slim sliver of a shit, which might be keeping him employed and out of prison — you weren’t the first ass-monkey to walk through the door that day and you certainly won’t be the last, so why take chances?

A Foot-and-a-Half Note

The holidays are supposed to be a time of blah, blah, blah, and whatever, but I can tell you from firsthand experience in two states, across varying economic and social strata, that the holidays are responsible for exposing more raging dickheads than Pfizer, Bayer, and Glaxo combined, and in more ways than one; if the inevitable and tiresome defenders of tradition were truly concerned with preserving the spirit and sanctity of the season (they aren’t), you’d occasionally hear a peep or two from them along the lines of, “Hey, bro, don’t be such a dick this year,” but you don’t. You hear things like “it may take legislation” and the ever-reliable mynah bird squawk of “corporate greed.” If it’s greed that opens stores on Thanksgiving Day, what is it that fills those stores, and causes people to come lumbering back for more at 6 a.m. — or earlier — the following day?

The fact that no one has started a petition against customer greed squawks volumes about the motives of those who E) want corporations to shoulder responsibility for the actions of consumers, and who F) then seek to control those corporations through “legislation”; the acquisition of power — not merely over corporations and trade, but over you and me and the things we do and say and think — has always been the goal of people who would try to fashion their own values into law. To tell a corporation that it has no right to open on Thanksgiving Day is to tell you and me that we have no right to shop on Thanksgiving Day; while I might disapprove of when you shop (and what you buy, and where you buy it, and what you wear while you buy it),  I will defend to the death your right to spend your holidays however the hell it pleases you to do so, even if the very act of seeking that pleasure turns you into a total boob.


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