Obsessed holiday shopper lives for Black Friday bargains

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

2 a.m. 10 degrees. Two pairs of socks. Two layers of pants. Three layers of tops. One goal-cheap Christmas gifts.

For about four years now, I’ve been obsessed with Black Friday shopping. Throughout this time, I’ve stood in subfreezing temperatures for countless hours just waiting to get into a store, I’ve lost my purse in my rush to beat the grandmas to the DVDs (the purse was later found), I’ve stood in a checkout line for more than two hours, but most importantly, I’ve scored some flipping sweet deals each time.

This year, though, I think I bargain-shopped into a new level of crazy. I had my eye on a couple of gifts at Kohl’s, and despite the fact that it opened at 4 a.m., I was determined to secure the goods.

In order to accomplish my mission, I decided that I needed to be at Kohl’s by 3 a.m. This meant coercing my shopping comrades and myself to wake up at 2 a.m., but I concluded that waking a couple of grizzlies would be preferable to losing my precious bargains to a middle-aged lady in a pink and maroon sweatsuit. My comrades agreed. Or at least they did after I introduced them to my green friend Andrew Jackson.

So with my shopping team coerced and my plan of attack meticulously plotted, I went to bed with visions of half-priced sweaters and dirt cheap toys dancing in my head. However, my sleep was rudely broken only a few hours later as my alarm announced the arrival of Black Friday and the departure of my sanity.

In my defense, I didn’t lose my presence of mind the moment that I woke up. I still was coherent enough to arm myself with hot cocoa, a blanket and enough layers to keep a tropical monkey warm even in Antarctica. But after we left my house, my adrenaline and cheap bone took over.

As soon as we arrived at Kohl’s, I dashed to the line and began sizing up the enemy. My team and I were about 20 people back, and the people in front of us–a couple of kids my age, a few middle-aged women and some grandparents–didn’t look too formidable. I wasn’t too worried; I was Chuck Norris for Halloween.

A few minutes later, I was zoning into the Chuck Norris mindset and mentally rehearsing roundhouse-kicking when a suspicious red pickup pulled up to the line. Suddenly the door flew open, and I was sure that the guy was going to jump me for my prized spot in line.

Instead when he saw my massive pipes, he quickly made up some lie about taking a survey. When the ladies after me in line said that they were just shopping for the fun of it, the man offered them a beer. Since he appeared to be drunk, I decided that maybe he wasn’t a threat, but I still gave him the evil eye just to be safe.

After that close call, I decided I needed to safeguard myself. I pondered and pondered for many minutes until in my clumsiness I spilled my hot cocoa, which in turn created a thin layer of ice on the sidewalk. It was genius-an ice barrier!

A few minutes and “spilt” drops of cocoa later, I realized that I could be sued for actions like these, and so I turned to other tactics to ensure my shopping success. I memorized my list, went over the store’s floor plan in my head and started stretching and doing calisthenics.

Finally at 4 a.m., the store opened, and my real fun began. I joined the hundreds of people pushing and shoving because we all honestly thought that we might get in the store faster that way. At one point I got wedged between two larger women, and I was sure that either yesterday’s turkey or my spleen was going to be squeezed out.

Luckily neither was lost, and in one miracle move, I was set free. Immediately I dashed through the aisles in search of the gifts I had waited in paranoia for. It didn’t take me long, though, because it was as if the light of God (or the delusions of my mind) led me to one gift after another. My job was done, and it was good.

Maybe it’s the turkey, maybe it’s the adrenaline, or maybe it’s a genetic predisposition to be cheap and slightly irrational. Whatever fuels my Black Friday fire, they probably won’t have a cure for it by next year, and so you can bet that I’ll be waiting in line, planning, plotting and roundhouse-kicking innocent bystanders.