One of my favorite primetime gameshows was Wipeout. There was something magical about seeing people voluntarily sign up to be on a game show where they would be fools for the entertainment of others. If that isn’t a cry for attention, I don’t know what is. It was a lot like the American Idol though, where the first round was basically a few stallwarts, but mostly watching people make fools of themselves for our amusement. My favorite part of the whole gauntlet was the big red balls. That was most people’s favorite.
If you haven’t seen the show it is basically an impossible obstacle course that you had to survive and keep doing until you finished. The first round you ran solo. There was an overwhelming amount of obstacles that would trick you, and you would eventually end up looked like a crazy person, and in some sort of mud or bubbles. I looked forward to seeing how badly people would get messed up for $50,000 or some low humiliation amount.
Nowadays it is the holidays, so whether you like it or not, you are in the middle of a gauntlet of your own. The only reason people don’t find it funny is because we are all going through it together, mostly unwillingly. We are running through a holiday shopping gauntlet that no of use will go through unscathed.
My wife is a generous person. She loves buying thoughtful things for other people, regardless of how terrible they are. So one Black Friday, she convinced me to go to a sporting goods store to get one of those Razor scooters for her nephew. The trend for those scooters was waning, so they had them on a Black Friday special in order to sell them and also to entice Aunt and Uncles to feel like they were getting their nephews trendy scooters. She had another bunch of stuff on her list, so she made me go after the Razor Scooter.
I had no idea how it all worked and that I would have to have some urgency for it, but when the doors opened, I looked immediately for the scooters. I couldn’t find them, but someone pointed them out, and I made a swift walk toward the scooters. As I was walking, other people around me were running…at full speed…toward the scooters. So fast that one of them ran right into the display of scooters and knocked them over. Then, as I reached and took one, two people were fighting over the last one. I basically sneaked away with my scooter, bought and got the heck out of Fight Morning 2001 and survived without any permanent scarring, except the one emblazened on my memory.
If you aren’t familiar with the Kiosk Gauntlet, it is the one where you are walking through the mall and you get accosted by shuckster salepeople trying to stop you so they can sell their products and pitches in microseconds. Before you even know what happened, you are the proud receipients of a years supply or dead sea lotions or hand warmers for you summer in California that you didn’t need.
I’m not sure why online shopping has gained so much popularity in the last several years, but I think I might have an idea.
What are the gauntlets you go through? What are some of your favorite or not so favorite Black Friday sale stories?
Bitter Gauntlet Ben