What the HAYnes? Black Friday shoppers, other scary things

HUMOR – In an attempt at marital diplomacy, I recently watched the first 10 minutes of “World War Z.” That is, 10 minutes of marital diplomacy turned out to be all I could afford. I had to turn it off because I did not want to have nightmares for the rest of my life. Call me crazy, but zombie swarms frighten me.

But you know what frightens me more than anything? Black Friday shoppers. They are certainly better equipped to survive a zombie apocalypse situation than I am. I have heard what happens in those crowds.

For example, around 6 a.m. on Black Friday 2012, a heated exchange began between two men waiting in line at a San Antonio, Texas Sears. The situation escalated until 9 a.m. when one of the men, a 35-year-old father with his family in tow, punched the other man in the face. The other man, who also had his family with him, pulled out a gun and chaos erupted. The crowd scattered, trampling one customer to the ground.

On Black Friday 2008, a crowd of approximately 2,000 people stormed the entrance of Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., breaking the sliding glass doors from their frame. The surge of people continued forward, unaware that they were trampling and killing Wal-Mart employee Jdimytai Damour.

I would not survive a situation like this. I like people, but I do not like people in crowds. People in crowds do not act like humans.

Or maybe they are too human. John Seabrook wrote in The New Yorker:

Unlike ants and fish and birds, humans haven’t evolved the capability to transmit information about the physical dynamics of the crowd across the entire swarm. Ants, for example, are able to communicate within a swarm using pheromones. Iain Couzin, a behavioral biologist at Princeton University, told me, “With ants, as with human crowds, you see emergent behavior. By using a simple set of local interactions, ants form complex patterns. The difference is that we are selfish individuals, whereas ants are profoundly social creatures. We want to reduce our travel time, even when it is at the expense of others, whereas ants work for the whole colony. In this respect, we are at our most primitive in crowds. We have never evolved a collective intelligence to function in large crowds—we have no way of getting beyond the purely local rules of interaction, as ants can.”

Besides that, ants do not have a great reason for trampling other ants, like scoring a pair of Dr. Dre headphones for only $200. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about – celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ by elbowing other shoppers out of the way so that we can buy frivolous, overpriced gadgetry for our loved ones? Or “Twilight” on DVD for only $1.96?

Michael Scott said it best: “Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say, ‘Hey man, I love you this many dollars-worth.'”

But I don’t know about all of that. I think I will stick with showing my husband that I love him by watching zombie movies with him – the first 10 minutes, anyway.


Elise Haynes chronicles family life in her blog Haynes Family Yard Sale. Any opinions stated in this column are her own and not necessarily those of St. George News.

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  • Sgnative November 27, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Equating Black Friday shopping with a zombie appocalypse is probably the best way to describe it. I for one will not be traveling down river road or going out anywhere there is shopping during this weekend.

  • Eric Folkerth November 29, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Thanks for this, Elise. I am also haunted by Jdimytai’s story.
    A song I wrote to remember him. Let us remember him, & all forced to work today: https://soundcloud.com/eric-folkerth/the-martyr-of-black-friday

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