Friday November 26, 2010 was fast approaching and was no less terrifying to Paritosh Pal, than the sprinklings of Friday the 13ths that dotted his annual planner. He had Friday the 13ths highlighted in yellow and a quick call to the Pandit Ji and a few havans coupled with a handful of bhajans took care of the immediate problem. But Black Friday was an entire animal altogether. Yess, Black Friday !!!
The Friday following Thanksgiving in US that marks the beginning of the Christmas Shopping Season. Paritosh Pal, or PP anembarrassing succession of initials had the day marked in red on his calendar.
PP literally leaked his bladder on some of these occasions in spite of the high powered analytical position he held in San Francisco’s financial district. Power in the corporate habitat is wielded in a business suit with broad shoulder pads and broader neck ties, but wielding power in shopping malls on a Black Friday is reserved for sweat pants wearing goons that can elbow and dive their way to a handful of door busters marked down at ridiculously low prices and hidden in dark corners with large placards. The bragging rights on such steals are more a matter of pride than the actual savings.
A laptop for $ 299, a 60” LCD TV for $ 999 and so on. It is during one such occasion in years past PP got a Black Eye when a feisty grandma pushed his thin frame over a pallet load of VCRs smashing his head into a shopping cart. PP has the day marked in red ever since.
Thanksgiving Day is the last Thursday in November, and the day after, or Black Friday as it is known falls somewhere between November 23rd and 29th in any given year. Although Friday’s are not official holidays, people are too bloated to crawl into their offices on this day after the huge Thanksgiving Feast on Thursday. Enter the retailers with their enticing door buster deals to shake off the lethargy in the slumberous consumers. Some doors open as early as 5 AM, while major retailers like Target and Walmart has resorted to opening their doors at midnight to vacuum the wallets before they are squeezed dry somewhere else.
The origin of the term Black Friday is interesting and some say the name stuck after the police department in Philadelphia started calling it such on account of the unruly motor and pedestrian traffic beginning that day. Then
in mid-eighties there was an anti-consumerism backlash calling for a “blackout” among consumers, claiming leftist ownership of the term. Crafty right wing accountants recently diverted the dubious underpinnings of the day by claiming that is precisely the day retailers begin showing profit after yearlong operations their bottom lines crossing over to black or profitability from being in the red or running at a loss year round. This is the line currently in vogue being touted by fat bottomed red faced executives in PP’s financial jungle. I once suggested accountants call the day Northern Fridays since that is the day earnings went North or turned a profit but that suggestion was turned down as too regional, limiting and parochial.
Coming back to PP, he is under pressure this year to steal a Limited Edition Red Nintendo Wii on Black Friday. He hoodwinked his family in earlier years by slipping off at midnight on Black Fridays and spending the night sipping margarita at revue shows while having his assistant buy the items at full price weeks earlier at upscale retailers
during lunch breaks.
His ruse was caught once his wife found a shopping receipt in his hip pocket while takingoff a particularly stubborn mustard stain from his trousers. That is how he managed to impress his child with a Tickle me Elmo, and Guitar Hero in past years claiming to have yanked it off the clutches of a fiery looking mobster seconds before the rogue was to lay his dirty paws on the item.
PP’s wife Molly was furious ever since for hoodwinking their only daughter and perpetrating such an egregious breach of trust. So this year Molly outfitted PP’s Cadillac Escalade with a GPS tracker planning to monitor his progress from her IPad. PP meanwhile is equally mortified recalling his leaky bladder and the door that almost severed his ankle and has signed up for some proactive remediation.
PP is diligently taking Tae Kwon Do lessons from Grand Master Dan downtown to actually punch and elbow his way in once the doors open at midnight. He has also acquired a director’s chair, an electric blanket and a thermos to stay warm and stake his claim in the early morning queue stretching down the city block. His friend Bulbul Sarkar, or BS another amalgam of embarrassing initials has promised to stow away the camping gear in the trunk of PP’s Escalade once the line starts moving. PP’s daughter Riya meanwhile is confident her father will be able to yank a RED Nintendo Wii from the clutches of an Evil Ravana once the doors open.
In the midst of all this holiday preparation there has been an encouraging outcome. PP, Molly and Riya has started praying to Lord Rama or Ram Ji during the evening bhajan sessions. Riya is occasionally apprehensive at times and asks PP, “What if Ram Ji fails to listen?” A smiling PP assures, “Yeh Amrika hai meri jaan. Santa Hai Na !”