A Special Report by Dubious Monk
Mon. Nov. 25, 2013 (Fargo, N.D.) - Black Friday evokes all kinds of things to the average consumer. Deep discounts and doorbuster deals are enticing and have consumers lining up to snag them—which is exactly what retailers want. But most retailers have limited quantities of heavily-discounted items, which require consumers to be crafty in how they get those must-have gifts.
This is where the atypical suburbanite Mrs. Rebecca Robinson comes in. A forty-something year old woman who has ruthlessly perfected her holiday shopping strategy. Known as a fearsome "powershopper" amongst her small community, Robinson's skills are respected, if not despised, by all who know her.
Learning of her notoriety, I leapt at the chance to interview her. I caught up with her moments before she began her Black Friday shopping ritual, which she starts days in advance.
"I've been training all year for this event. I feel confident that I'm going to get everything on my list this time," Robinson remarks as she laces up a pair of combat boots, and straps on matching knee and elbow pads.
Robinson is surprised to learn that there are people in this world that do not share her enthusiasm for Black Friday.
"What?! You've got to be kidding me. This is the greatest thing since...whatever," she says as she slides on brass knuckles and a pair of leather gloves on over them. "Shopping this Christmas sets the stage for lifelong family closeness. This is going to be the best Christmas ever!"
Robinson punches the palm of her hand with her fist and runs in place briefly.
"On the downlow, my husband needs Levitra, so finding the aggression necessary to achieve my goals is not hard at all. My hormones are RAGING," she mutters as she throws on a kevlar vest and heavy black overcoat.
She grabs a baseball bat on her way out the door and we climb into her Lexus, which is packed with a tent, a sleeping bag, some dry goods and several automatic weapons. I can only guess that a boxful of grenades, and maybe a rocket launcher is stashed in the trunk.
"I really don't understand anyone's confusion at the fact that I'm going to camp out, outside the mall, on a public sidewalk where people have walked, spit, and other disgusting things, in freezing weather just to save $10 on a single item."
Robinson backs her car out of her driveway, and peels out as we blow through one stop sign after another.
"Other people, like my neighbors, for instance, admire my dedication. I feel a great sense of satisfaction at being first in line. But in order to do that I have to start early."
"I get out there on Monday night for Black Friday sales, so I get first dibs at everything. Considering I can potentially save up to half-off, it's totally worth it," Robinson says, causing several cars to swerve out of the way and crash as we make our way to the local mall.
"I just think about the savings. And who cares if my credit cards are maxed out every Christmas? I'll catch up on that debt by next Thanksgiving. I get frequent flier miles and reward points on every purchase I make, so in reality, I’m saving even more money! Which means I can only be closer to family, no matter where they live."
Robinson starts applying camoflauge makeup to her face while steering the car with her knees.
"Truthfully, I don't get to see many of them that often, really. One of my girls left for college two years ago and I rarely hear from her. I think she's doing porn now. But I've met the nicest people when elbowing my way through the crowd for that last ... oh, whatever the hottest item is that year! If I buy them all up I can send one to all my nieces and nephews, because it's the thought that counts."
At the mall parking lot, Robinson barrels her way past a large SUV and pulls into the space they were waiting for, narrowly missing a lady and her children crossing on foot in front of us. The SUV honks and Robinson jumps out of the car and starts yelling obscenities at them, which must have been quite a scene with her makeup and head-to-toe tactical gear on.
They drive away, flipping us off, in search of another spot.
"This is my favorite time of year. Peace and goodwill to mankind, and the birth of our beloved baby Jesus and all that stuff. He died for our sins, you know. Help me with this tent, will you?"
Once the tent is set up outside the department store at the mall, Robinson confides in me while loading a shotgun, "I have a system down. Since I'm usually first in line, I turn around and let out a bloodcurdling battle cry that stops most shoppers dead in their tracks."
"The few that are left scrambling, or get in the way, I shove, knock down, or trample over to clear the way, then I make a beeline for the electronics. Elsewhere, I just surf over people while Botoxed old cougars with sagging fake tits cough into my eyeballs. Trust me, they deserve the elbow shots to the face and kicks to the solar plexus that I give them. The clerks do too."
She pumps the handle on the 12-gauge several times to load the rounds she put into it.
"Seriously, one time at Macy's on my way to the first rack of girls clothes, I was deliberately kicked in the shin by a toddler so fat its eyes were invisible. I booted the little brat so hard, I think its photo is still on the back of a milk carton. Probably part of a black market Chinese adoption ring now."
Robinson leans in towards me, "Then, as I was politely easing my way closer to the rack with a taser, some bulimic bitch in fuck-me boots literally clawed at my arm to get ahead. Can you imagine the nerve? So I punched her in the face, shattering her jaw and nearly breaking my fingers. That's why I wear these brass knuckles now," she pulls off a glove and flexes her hand, showing off her secret weapon.
"Anyway, once I made it to the rack, some wannabe metrosexual clerk smacked me in the head with his man-purse. But that didn't stop me. Jesus effing—let me tell you, this is war and you cannot show any mercy! You don't even want to know what I did to him. Let's just say he's permanently singing soprano."
"Anyway, I feel superior to everyone else when I get the last item in any store I stake out on Black Friday, because my shopping list is more important than anyone else's. I buy better gifts than anybody else I know has combined. All my neighbors are envious of the deals I get, even the ones I get days before Christmas. Just ask them."
"Like Tom and Janet down the street. God, they are such underachievers. Last Christmas they bought their 19-year-old daughter a brand new Hyundai, but I bought mine a Hummer! You should have seen the looks on all their faces!!"
Robinson feigns the surprised and disappointed looks her neighbors must have had. "Priceless!" She exclaims and then starts laughing.
"The best part of all of it is, I don't feel the least bit sorry for leaving Grandma at home all week, who has a heart condition, so I can run and grab just a few more presents!"
"This time of year she doesn't seem to mind skipping her medication for a couple days here or there. Grandma seems awfully grateful when she gets a new electric blanket!"
"She knows better than to complain anyway. She could be in a nursing home if I felt like it. It's the small things, right?"
Right you are. And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson, retailers love you more than you will know.