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There are three things I vowed never to do in this life: Go bungee-jumping (I still haven’t), eat beets (I still don’t) and wait outside on cold concrete in the wee hours waiting to buy some fool thing on Black Friday.
Well, two out of three ain’t bad.
I broke my own rule about venturing out in the dark just to spend money because my college-freshman daughter desperately needed a new laptop computer after hers got stolen from her dormitory last week.
Every bit of it was her fault for leaving the laptop unattended in a study room.
After I’d gone through the gamut of usual maternal emotions, including doing the frustrated-mom’s hair-pulling dance and exclaiming, “Why, why, why?”—the thief still hadn’t returned her computer.
The only thing that might change anything involved a Black Friday sale on a much-coveted laptop at an office-supply chain store for $349.99 (after a $50 mail-in rebate buried in the fine print).
A thoughtful colleague at work alerted me to it after witnessing me at my motherly wit’s end.
Somehow, I had insomnia Thanksgiving night, probably from too much turkey and worry. So I was as rarin’ to go as anyone could be upon arriving at 2:30 a.m. Friday at a gated-up store in Tennessee, where a handful of more experienced shoppin’ fools had already gathered.
They’d brought fold-out canvas chairs and blankets, tall cans of energy drinks and—right before opening time—tall cups of coffee. This younger crowd had no worries about their future bladder needs.
I, meanwhile, remained dehydrated and in the car for as long as I could, until more people started arriving and claiming places in line. I found an old coat in the trunk to wrap myself in as I reluctantly staked my place on the sidewalk.
Believe me, if you don’t know your place, these expert Black Friday campers do, as they lined up buggies across the front entrance so nobody could charge the store.
If you’ve ever wondered what is the most boring thing to do on a holiday weekend, I can attest it is standing outside a closed store with a bunch of strangers in mid-30-degree temperatures for three hours trying to keep your blood circulating.
Once my mouth had defrosted in my coat collar, I struck up conversations with fellow “waiters” and learned we were all after the same thing—the coveted $349 laptop.
The good news, we learned shortly before opening time at 6 a.m., is there were vouchers for 25 of them, and we were each far enough ahead in line to get one. We high-fived and shuffled our frostbit toes into little victory jigs.
I wound up making new friends as I survived my first Black Friday campout and scored a replacement laptop for my daughter.
She owes me big-time.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.