Sunday, November 30, 2008

Is This Why They Call It Black Friday?

The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, signals the start of Christmas shopping season and is the biggest shopping day of the year.  Some stores open as early as 4 am and hordes of people gather even earlier to get a great deal.   

This year, Black Friday turned fatal.   In Long Island, NY, Jdimytai Damour, a 34 year old Walmart worker was trampled to death by frenzied shoppers.    Unfortunately, this was followed by a tragic shooting at a Toys R Us in Palm Desert, California where two men were killed in a dispute.   Apparently, a heated argument escalated to the point where both men pulled firearms and started shooting.   

It's just sad.   Think about it - a person is trampled to death over the pursuit of a big discount... two men are killed over a shopping dispute.    

What does it say about us as a society?   Are these big chain retailers responsible in any way or are these just random tragic events?   What is wrong with this picture and what can be done about it?  


Ted M. Gossard said...

I guess my first reaction would be this is about living in a fallen world.

Of course our economic system is built on consumers buying what we don't need, and continuing to do so, and this is the season in which they make the most of their money, critical to their existence. And probably a most tense time since their are indications that the economy will only go worse.

But no. Just like after 9/11 when President Bush told us to go shop. This surely is a staple of our society, for better or for worse, I think (and I think, for worse myself).

Marcus Goodyear said...

The Walmart death was shocking. When I watched some interviews with people who were there, they made it sound like an accident. A young man said, inside the store it was calm. But right at the entrance things bottle necked and got crazy.

It sounded like a tragic accident more than a mob intent on getting to a bargain even if they had to kill someone.

I don't mean that to belittle the tragedy of it--or to excuse the behavior of shoppers who break down the doors to get in early.

It's just a reminder that our actions and passions can sometimes cause more damage than we intend.

Writing a comment about it almost feels inappropriately callous to the victim's family. I don't want to reduce a man's death to some pithy moral. And yet, we can't help but look for meaning in something like this.

mark said...

even as christians we are not deliberate enough in purchases to be "consumers on purpose," whereas there is a book out there that some fellows I know have read called "in business on purpose." How do we reconcile purchases of things and deal seeking pragmatism, with the fact that there are other areas that we often attribute much more meaning and God's will to?

Craver Vii said...

Like Marcus, I don't think the mob was intent on getting to a bargain even if they had to kill someone. Nevertheless, manslaughter is not a light matter. You don't just take a deep breath and shake it off. Somebody died! A man was trampled by shoppers, and it horrifies me. It bothers me that when management tried to close the store, consumers insisted on making the purchases they were waiting for. I bothers me that the lawyers of the victim's family blames the store, saying the death was a result of improper training.

What do we do about it? I really don't know. I'm still trying to figure out how such an atrocity took place.

Every Square Inch said...

Ted - you're right, we do live in a fallen world and these tragedies are reminders.

Marcus& Craver - I'm with both of you on this - I don't think shoppers were purposefully or even knowingly shopping with intent to kill. Yet, our actions when ill directed can have bad consequences. And, as you (Craver) mentioned, I read somewhere that crowds were disgruntled when the store was closed for investigation purposes. That's a sad commentary - a person died and we want to get on with our shopping list? Definitely, naughty, not nice.

mark - in this case, consuming with purpose should affect not only what we buy but how we go about it?