Black Friday scavenger hunt: Score points amid the lunacy

A version of this column first appeared in The Dallas Morning News and on Please check out the site.

After years as the recognized start of holiday shopping, Black Friday has been victimized by a line-jumper. Thanksgiving night is now the starting point for many bargain hunters worried that a second helping of turkey could leave them stuck with the door-buster leftovers.

“Gray Thursday,” some people are calling it. Combine it with Black Friday and we get a 30-hour shopping frenzy that can be described as thrilling (or depressing), exciting (or torturous) and a must-see (or must avoid).

Single file, everyone, single file ... oh never mind.
Sometimes I need to – ahem – help Santa with gifts for my kids, so the Black Friday crush isn’t new to me. For others braving the crowds later this week, I offer a sort of scavenger hunt to help keep you focused during the first 30 hours of “yeah, it’s the thought that counts, but I really wanted this.”

Keep track of your points as you cross names off your Christmas list:

* One point if you see a person who finishes shopping, then discovers the checkout line and decides the item isn’t worth the wait. Two points for multiple items, three points if a full cart is abandoned.

* One point for a person asleep in the car in a parking lot. Two points if the car is running.

* One point for a shopping cart rolling across the parking as if being pushed by the Ghost of Christmas Present. Two points for an overflowing cart with expensive, awkwardly balanced items on top. Three points if you hear the scraping of metal as dueling shoppers trade paint – a la NASCAR – in the Bargain Hunter 500.

* One point for a person running awkwardly through a parking lot as if he or she has been told to “Come on Down!” on The Price is Right. Two points if the awkward run includes two or more bags that nearly trip the shopper. (If the person falls, then by all means, show you holiday spirit and help him or her up. And then add three points to your score).

* One point for a person using a cell phone to talk to another person in the same store. Two points if one of the talkers is obliviously blocking the aisle while looking at a shopping list. Three points if the person is sobbing because of exhaustion or the sight of an empty shelf where Big Hugs Elmo was supposed to be.

* One point for a person walking zombie-like through a store sipping coffee or soda. Two points for a person standing in line who cracks open an energy drink before paying for it.

* One point for an infant that is part of a pre-dawn shopping trip. You might expect more points for this, but sadly, it’s pretty common. Two points if the infant is accompanied by a toddler sitting in a nest of gifts in the cart.

* One point for a person climbing a shelving unit to get to an item. Two points if the person is wearing heels. Three points if you can resist laughing.

* One point if a car follows as you walk to your parking spot. Two points if you’re willing to walk around the parking lot aimlessly until the parking-space stalker rolls down the window and asks to help you find your car.

* One point for a person wearing slippers. Two points for a person wearing pajamas. Three points for a robe or hair curlers.

* One point for hearing a person say “I can’t believe I’m shopping today.” Two points for hearing a person say “I’m never going to do this again.” Three points for hearing “I always say I’m never going to do this again.” (So if you’re near me in a line, expect to get six points).

Scoring totals
0-8: You probably didn’t get a smokin’ deal on a big-ticket item, but you got your rest
9-16: You found some deals without losing your sanity
17 or more: Was that you pounding on the store window at 4 a.m.?

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