Black Friday, an annual event that celebrates greed, depravity and a Hobbesian view of mankind was again marred by violence nationwide. Yet from the rubble a similar theme emerged — a lot of these incidents occurred at Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart on a good day is sketchy — if you haven’t already, check out peopleofwalmart.com. Add thousands of sleep-deprived shoppers and ridiculous discounts, and you’ve created a recipe for disaster.
Several stabbings and a shooting were reported across the country last Friday. NBC News noted the arrest of a woman who pepper-sprayed fellow shoppers so she could get an Xbox.
The Los Angeles Times noted that several fights, injuries and “at least one shooting” had occurred at Wal-Marts across the nation Nov. 25.
The publication quoted a Wal-Mart spokesman who assured “It has been a safe event at thousands of Wal-Mart stores. These have been a few unfortunate incidents.”
CNN reported that in Myrtle Beach, S.C. a woman was shot in an attempted robbery Wal-Mart parking lot. The assailants fled when another shopper pulled out a gun.
I don’t know what is more disturbing — that a woman was shot while shopping or that someone knew well enough to pack heat at Wal-Mart on Black Friday.
Another man was shot outside a San Leandro, Calif. Wal-Mart. In 2008, an employee was trampled to death at a Long Island Wal-Mart.
In the last five years there have been shootings, stabbings, fights, armed robberies, and stampedes that have resulted in dozens of injuries and the death of an employee, yet Wal-Mart has done nothing to change the conditions in which these incidents occur.
Wal-Mart isn’t telling you to shank someone over a Tickle-Me-Elmo — they’re just creating a situation that increases your likelihood of being shanked.
Certainly, customers share the blame when it comes to Black Friday. A 50 percent off television does not give you license to shed all sense of decency.
What started as bargains the day after Thanksgiving has expanded to stores opening at well before dawn, and even starting the night before.
The result is that hundreds of thousands of Americans who work in retail have to alter their holiday schedules, meaning less time spent with family.
There are a few professions where it is legitimate to have to work on a holiday – hospital staff, emergency personnel, etc. Working at a box store is not one of them. But Wal-Mart employees are left with little recourse — the company has long taken a hard line against labor unions.
For many Thanksgiving, signals the beginning of the holiday season — and nothing spreads holiday cheer like trading elbows with your fellow man over $20 cell phones.
I don’t buy into the excuse that Black Friday is “competitive shopping.” It’s not an excuse to act like a moron. You can’t drive 90 m.p.h. on the highway and tell the officer it was just “competitive driving.”
Black Friday may reap huge profits for huge retailers like Wal-Mart — it is estimated that the holiday season accounts for more than 20 percent of annual sales at these stores.
But are retailers desperate enough to risk the wellbeing of customers and employees just to make a few extra bucks?
How many more shoppers and employees need be injured or killed before Wal-Mart concedes that “a few unfortunate incidents” is really widespread violence?
Don’t contribute to the mayhem when Black Friday comes around again — wait around for similar bargains online. But if you do decide to venture to Wal-Mart, it’s not a bad idea to bring that switchblade.