My headlights sent a beam down the country road, slicing the early morning darkness as I drove toward town. I parked in a crowded lot, then hurried to claim my spot in the short queue outside the glass double doors of Wal-Mart, the newest, and only, big box store in our small Louisiana town.
The line lengthened and snaked into the parking lot. Minutes ticked by. Impatient people behind me jockeyed for an additional inch of pavement. The frenzy escalated as a hesitant man inside approached the doors, key in hand. A single click, an inch of space from the threshold to the top of the door jam, then …
I stepped to the right inside, leaned against the closed snack bar, and watched. Individuals raced empty carts like chariots in “The Gladiator.” Coordinated shopping quads split, scurrying like mice startled by a bright light. One raced toward televisions, a second dashed to electronics. The third jogged toward microwaves and coffeepots as the fourth team member grabbed an oversized cart and sprinted toward toys. When the mob thinned, I sauntered the aisles jammed with loaded carts.
I turned to face the blue-vested associate who’d opened the door twenty minutes earlier.
“No, thanks,” I said. “I don’t see anything I need.”
At home later that day, I climbed the attic stairs and dragged down the six-foot Christmas tree and decorations. After dinner, I made several additional treks up the stairs and returned with loaded bags. The tree lights winked at me, keeping my secret that I had finished my Christmas shopping months before this Black Friday.