I remember TV reports of Tickle-Me-Elmo madness – people pushing and screaming to get their hands on the last available toy that their child must have and I promised myself I would NEVER go out there on Black Friday. I hate shopping, so the thought of fighting for a doorbuster deal makes me want to pound a 10-penny nail into my head. Yet this year, that is just what I did. I entered the fray on Black Friday… and it nearly killed me.
It wasn’t for the latest drone, a gaming console, or a 4k TV. No, I went to Target to exchange a faulty phone procured on Tuesday because I learned that like taking a direct glare from Medusa, a millennial will actually turn to stone if they are without a phone for 48 hours.
The phone worked when we got it. She had time to load her information and sign into the cloud (not that anyone understands the cloud). But then it wouldn’t recharge and had the technological brilliance of a hockey puck. In our food coma glow, we optimistically tried to make the exchange on Thanksgiving night but the store’s computer was down and the line was out the door. So we waited until the crazies left Friday morning and hit the store midday. Here is the timeline:
12:20 Bill the Phone Guy informed us they were out of iPhone 7’s unless we got a ticket last night. After I explained our dilemma, he found they had her particular model but said it would be a few hours because the computer that was dead last night was making a very slow recovery.
We decided to wait next to a lovely family with a little girl named Jessie. Jessie’s mom was very pregnant, due in January. A quiet man settled in behind us and avoided all conversation and eye contact.
A part of our souls died as we watched the first man in line procure five phones, one at a time – a process that took twenty minutes… PER PHONE!
1:40 Five Phone Man finishes and we move out of the main aisle and into the phone aisle where we were safer. I call my wife to tell her I love her and that we might not make it home.
2:15 The computer goes down and is rebooted for the third time since our arrival. Little Jessie giggles at Bill the Phone Guy but worries about stranger danger when we talk to her.
3:00 Several people try to get in line behind us, but we know the story and mercifully explain so they won’t waste their time.
3:30 We inch closer to the computer. A lady leaves her teenage son to finish the deal but threatens him over the $250 gift card. He looks longingly at the Playstation bundle for $249 on the endcap. Guess what happened.
3:50 Jessie’s mom laments, “I just want to see the sun again…” I look down to see a puddle of water on the floor and prepare for delivery because there is no way she is leaving the line just to have her baby.
The quiet man cries a quiet tear.
Jessie cries over her spilled water and I cry because the joy of new life was all that kept me going for a few minutes.
4:15 We are next. The computer crashes. People try to join us in line but we are no longer capable of niceties so we hiss ferociously until they run away.
4:30 The computer comes back up but we can’t exchange because the dead phone is logged into the cloud. We talk with a Verizon employee explaining that it can’t be resurrected to log off of the cloud – I’m not sure the point – or a pulse – was registered.
I call Apple and after a ten-minute hold, a tech support specialist logs the phone off the cloud.
4:45 It still looks like it is in the cloud to Verizon – NO ONE UNDERSTANDS THE CLOUD!
5:15 We proceed to the Apple Store where we are shown that it is NOT registered in the cloud by a guy who seems to understand the cloud. In hindsight, I consider his existence dubious.
5:30 We return to Target. A very weary Bill guides us through the exchange. Twenty minutes later, we embrace and part ways. I feel like I left a part of me there.
On the way to the car, my exhausted 20-year-old says, “If that’s what being an adult is, I don’t think I can do it.”
And I thought about it. That is a very accurate picture of adulting: waiting, getting angry, trying the control anger long enough to accomplish a task or at least pointing the fury in the right direction. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
I am a reluctant Black Friday shopper. I’m an even more reluctant adult.