The clock by the side of my bed beckoned to me as though the inanimate object had a relentless will to interrupt my night’s rest with an agenda so important that sleep had to succumb to the neon-illuminated hands of the night stalker. “Get up,” the clock demanded. “Hurry! The time approaches!” the timepiece exclaimed. Somewhere around 3:00 a.m., I submitted. Surely one so wise as to calculate passing seconds, mark the moments in which life is lived, or announce the hour when the appointment must be kept could not be wrong. I would obey. I would yield my will. I would arise.
“Honey,” I said to my husband as I gently stroked his back. “Ready to get up and go shopping?”
“Nooooooo,” he muttered. I paused for a moment and then tried again. My second call caused him to roll toward me and open his eyes. “Are you serious?”
We had discussed rising early for our first-ever Black Friday shopping experience. However, after a day of Thanksgiving cooking, eating, entertaining, cleaning, working, celebrating, and eating again, we had determined we were too tired to attempt the world’s most bizarre shopping experience. That was - - - until Mr. Clock worked his magic.
I suppose that the persistent nature of the clock had somehow transferred to me, because I convinced my husband of the urgent need for us to forego rest and arise to the challenge of shopping. We walked through the doors of our first store by 4:00 a.m.
When we saw the check-out line, we formulated a plan: he would stand in line, while I ran to find the items that were on the family’s wish list. We were armed with our cell phones. He would call me if he neared the check-out before I reappeared from amidst the masses of jubilant holiday shoppers with my early-bird priced treasures in tote. What a marvelous use of time. In under an hour, we were in and out of store #1.
Our successes suggested that we had chosen wisely. No wonder so many people with sweet holiday spirits elected to shop on Black Friday! Negative news stories about this day must surely have been reported incorrectly! We were confident that Mr. Clock had given us sound advice - - - until we entered store #2.
Three million people had decided to shop Target before sunrise. I might be underestimating – it could have been four million. We squeezed our way through an agitated crowd to get to that special doll only to find it already sold out. We maneuvered our passage around the swarm of less-than-cheerful shoppers toward the video games to discover empty bins. After several hours of arduous efforts, we had two gifts. Two!
We entered the check-out line that wrapped around the store three times. Then my wristwatch started to talk to me. It taunted me. It refused to tick tock on the regular pace. NO! It slowed to a crawl. Now I have experienced long days and endless hours throughout my life: studying for final exams in college, sitting in the dentist chair, waiting for tax-returns, flying trans-continental half way around the world, and laboring in child birth. To that short list of elongated time distortion, I was considering adding Black Friday.
What seemed like hours and hours later, we emerged from the store only to find the sun just rising on the horizon. The whole day lie before me. There was time for breakfast out plus time to return home and set up the Christmas tree.
As Black Friday ended and I climbed into bed, I came face to face with my alarm clock. It seemed to smile as though waiting for me to give adulation for its wisdom in time management. I smiled, nodded, turned its face toward the wall and said, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night.”