Black Friday: shoppers gone wild — like usual

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Black Friday. Holiday sales. Complete madness.

As a Target employee, I worked this year’s Black Friday. I witnessed the anxious, the jolly, and the downright rude.

As I see people engage in a tug-of-war match over a five-dollar savings, I wonder what goes on in their head. They want to buy something for someone in order to show their generosity and caring. But if they only looked at themselves and their actions, they would see how ungenerous and uncaring this season has made them.

Black Friday continues to bring out old-fashioned human nastiness.

A little game of tug-of-war may not seem too serious. But what about the completely inhuman acts that have occurred?

The media popularized the story of the woman who pepper-sprayed 20 people in Wal-Mart. Less reported but more severe, were two shootings — one in San Leandro, Calif., and one in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Let’s not forget past Black Fridays when herds of shoppers knocked over and trampled people to death for a TV — or rather the chance to get a TV.

How can anyone justify that? A commodity is never worth more than a human life. Somewhere along the line, our desire to buy gifts, our desire to show each other that we care, mutated into an arduous necessity.

When the pressure to buy turns fellow human beings into obstacles, we need to step back and look at this problem we have created. How have we come to let things dictate our behavior?

Perhaps economic hardships force frugality on shoppers. Regardless, no sale, no savings, no item can ever outweigh the value of a life.

With so many people shopping at one time, many of whom apparently cannot act human while shopping, businesses must ensure their customers’ safety. Target, for example, took steps to ease some of the expected Black Friday madness and risks this year.

For one, the doors opened for only 30 shoppers at a time — no more sweeping mass of locusts. Also, a line of carts directed shoppers in single file partway into the store before they could go their own way, branching traffic off inside instead of a allowing the crowd to flood through the entrance.

Restrictions like these should not be necessary to ensure everyone’s safety, but they apparently are. Because this seems the case, I would like to see other stores take safety precautions against the inevitable rush for holiday sales.

As long as there are sales, there will be people lining up. As long as people line up, businesses must protect their customers’ safety.

The customers have responsibilities too. We need to rediscover the good-spirited nature of behaving courteously to others.

Still, if we really cannot keep our humanity in the face of a sale, maybe we should do away with the practice all-together and find another way to show we care.