“People who connect more with items than with hearts are seldom missed.” – Victor Rook
The quote is a line at the end of “Black Friday Revenge,” a grisly yet oddly satifying short story in a collection called People Who Need To Die, by Manassas, Virginia writer Victor Rook.
“Black Friday Revenge” concerns a father who avenges his son’s death after the son is trampled by greedy shoppers on Black Friday. The year is 2021, and he applies for and receives permission from the new world order to eliminate the idiots by luring them to a warehouse full of horrors. Like the moral at the end of a Grimm tale, the quoted line is a warning to all of us.
The story resonated with me. I shopped Black Friday in the late ’90s in Newport News. It was a miserable microcosm of long lines, cranky customers, short-tempered cashiers and sharp-elbowed chaos. The scariest moment was being pushed aside by guys grabbing loss leader items to pay and go as fast as possible (probably to resell and make a profit).
I was manipulated into Black Friday shopping yet again when my son was a teenager. I should have known better. I stood with him in the pre-dawn on the sidewalk in front of Best Buy in Manassas, freezing, so we could be among the 100 customers to get the Wii, a new in-demand gaming system that was in short supply.
While Christmas Day was no surprise for him, January was for me. That’s when he skipped school with the Wii in his backpack for a little adventure. Let’s just say after school authorities dealt with him, and I was required to attend the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service’s excellent Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP) course, I felt justified in boxing up the new gaming system and returning it to Best Buy for a full refund.
My advice: Avoid the life lessons and read Victor Rook’s collection of short stories. Think twice about the frenzy, craze and greed of Black Friday. Then shop at a leisurely pace in locally-owned stores on Small Business Saturday, November 29. It’s so much more civilized, and you will be supporting business owners who most likely reside, work and invest in the life of your community.
You can pick up a copy of Victor Rook’s People Who Need to Die at Prospero’s Books on Center Street when you shop in Historic Manassas. For more information about the author’s December book signings in the Prince William area, visit www.victorrook.com.