Black Friday is Looming

It’s cold tonight, a little colder than usual for this time of year. The air, crisp and sharp, stings any part of my face peeking out from behind my scarf, and causes me to draw my coat just a little closer. There is a still to this night that is hard to put to words, as if time itself knows what will happen tomorrow, and by its own mercy has slowed, to give these souls which have gathered here just a little more rest before the battle that lies ahead.
There they are, rows and rows of them, lying dormant in their sleeping bags, looking like dough being prepared to go into the baker’s oven. This night reminds me of early mornings in my grandmother’s kitchen, before the fire was stoked as she prepared the day’s bread. As I look at them now, I do not see my enemies, I see myself. Come sunrise, that will change.
I am a security guard, they are customers. And BLACK FRIDAY is coming.

This is honestly one of the things that makes me face palm so hard that people see the marks and ask me if my home life is ok. This Thanksgiving, like the ones before, I will be thankful for Amazon Prime and free two-day shipping.
But for those of you who are brave enough… yea, “brave”, that’s the word we’ll use… to load up the minivan, check your credit score, kiss your family goodbye, and head out to the stores, I have some tips to follow to make it a little less painful and murdery.  I can’t believe I actually have tips for this.
Tip #1: Be Smart
DON’T. GO.
Tip #2: Be Practical

TV squishing courtesy of Getty Images.
Here we go.  Your little one wants the newest talking, peeing, crying, flying, moving, virtual, coolest, whatever.  They HAVE to have it and you HAVE to get it for them.  This is exactly the reason why people lose their brains and department stores suddenly go all MADMAX and we end up seeing it on the news.  Look, be practical about this.  You know the store is going to sell out of whatever that thing is as soon as that poor pimple faced Assistant to the Assistant Manager opens the door and gets trampled by Barbara and the rest of the hoard.  SO… how do you beat it? Pre Order, Pre Order, oh Lawd say it with me and can I get a witness???? PRE ORDER!!!!!
I literally just now went on to Walmart’s website and got the newest Xbox thing with an extra controller and bundle doo hickie and had it in the cart and ready to be picked up at the store as soon as I run my company credit car……… I mean, hypothetically, run my card.
It’s really that easy.
The benefit of this……the item you want will be waiting at the store, already paid for, and ready for you to pick up at your leisure on Friday.  And if you’re looking for the extra savings, do it early Friday morning and enjoy the peace of mind, without all of the lines and the biting and the crying and the stomping and the dying…..yes, people die.
Tip #3: Pick Your Battles

That cute little troll doll that will probably be the reason for all the carnage this year is JUST NOT WORTH IT.  Keep good situational awareness.  Do not get so hyper-focused on the prize that you lose the sense to be able to tell when to get away.  If you feel the situation is getting unsafe, or notice an argument starting, get gone.  Fast.  Those one-off type of arguments can feed directly into the mob hysteria and cause a riot.  Think of a crowd like that as a bunch of dried grass, and that one “little” argument as the match that can set it all ablaze.  The sooner you can recognize this situation is the sooner you can get yourself out of harm’s way.
Tip #4: You Get Knocked Down
Ok.  There you are, minding your own business, updating your Facebook with a picture of you amongst the barbarians with #inthefight #tonightwedineinhell #warface and #blackfriday2016 underneath.  Completely disregarding this article and the tips you’ve gotten from me in blogs past, you keep your nose in your phone to find the perfect filter for your selfie, because let’s face it, it’s O Dark Thirty and you look like you need a nap- then BANG! Doors open and you’re knocked down.  The worst has happened.
Your phone, gone.  All you see is feet moving, getting closer to your face.  Someone steps on your hand.  Your instinct is to ball up in the fetal position.  What do you do?
Let’s back up for a second and cover some facts.  First, a crowd is an immensely powerful thing, only 6 or 7 people can generate up to 1000 lbs. of force.  However, it is generally weak on the peripherals. Second, a crowd generally moves the same as the tide in an ocean, it surges. This is no longer a bunch of individual things, it is one solid object moving as a wave does. Third, once this behavior starts, it is pointless to talk to anyone.  Again, you are now dealing with a mob, and a mob only answers to two things, the leader or the common goal. In this case, it is the common goal to jam about 500 bodies into a two door opening made for polite, civilized individuals. You lose that battle 9 times out of 10.
Lastly, you are going to deal with irrational, pissed off, crazed human beings.  This is not the time to be courteous of others or their “safe space”.  When planning events such as the Presidential Inauguration or the Pope’s visit, the typical amount of space given for an individual is the same size as a folded up newspaper laid flat on the ground.  If the spot you’re standing begins to get smaller than that, then you are no longer in a safe condition.  Personally, at this point, I resort to biological warfare.  Yup, I become that guy that sneezes, coughs, and yawns without covering my nose and mouth (sorry mom).  Simple and effective way to gain some ground.  This is war, and there are no rules.
Ok so now let’s get into how to survive.

  1. PAY ATTENTION.  This goes with any time you’re in a crowded situation.  Look around, familiarize yourself with the exits, and alternate exits.  Read the crowd, you’ll get a sense of when the mob mentality is starting, and you can get out before it starts. Know the type of ground you are on.  Wet grass, mud, icy parking lots are all bad and should be avoided.  Try to position yourself closer to the edge, and not in the middle.  As I said, the main strength of the crowd is in the middle, so stay on the outside as much as possible for easy exit.
  2. FORGET YOUR S***.  Pardon the french, but it rhymes better than Forget your STUFF, and is easier for me to remember.  Basically it means if it’s not a body part or attached to you, let it go.  Don’t get caught up in the cell phone, keys, purse, or whatever you just dropped and try to retrieve it.  In about 5 minutes, there will be no one standing there and you can go back and get it.  It might be stepped on, but better it than you.
  3. GO WITH THE FLOW. The best bet if you get swept up in it is to go in the direction of the crowd, do not fight it.  It will exhaust you and will cause a greater chance for you to fall down.
  4. “GET UP YOU S-O-B, CAUSE MICKEY LOVES YA”.  Ok so I love Rocky movies, wanna fight about it?  (except with the one about Tommy Gun, which was garbage) Anyway, if you fall or get knocked down GET UP.  GET UP FAST.
  5. COVER UP.  You’re down and can’t get back up.  Do not look for or reach out for help, that will only expose vital areas to being stepped on.  Immediately cover your head and face with your arms.  Ball up as best you can in the fetal position.  Do not lay on your stomach or back as this will expose your lungs and other vital organs.  Generally speaking, there will be a good samaritan in the crowd that will help you to your feet, but you can’t count on it.
  6. GET AWAY FROM WALLS, DOORS, FENCES.  In a large crowd, these are the killers.  A crowd surging towards the door or into a fence can literally crush you.  Stay away from these areas no matter what, and as sad as it will make you to hear this, DON’T BE FIRST IN LINE.
  7. WAIT FOR THE LULL.  Much like a wave, there will be a lull in the surge, wait for that moment to make your move.  You can find the space between the individuals next to you, and work on that one at a time to get out.  When you make your move, head in a diagonal direction left or right, again in the same direction as the flow.  Keep your arms up and pinned to your chest.  This will give you mobility and the ability to cover your face should you fall.  As you gain ground it will get easier and easier to get past people, and to safety.  At this point you can kiss the ground, dance, and set up an online shopping account.
  8. Kids. If you’ve brought your kids to this nonsense at 3am, facepalm yourself right now. I have nothing to say to you.

Ok, so I had some fun with this one guys, but honestly, be safe out there. Just remember one person is smart, hundreds of people together are dumb.  Keep your head up and your eyes open, trust your gut, and you’ll be fine.
Thanksgiving is coming up, and we are all busy in our day to day.  But don’t forget to take a second and be thankful for what we have, and just RELAX with the ones you love. And save me some pumpkin pie.
As always, check out OPS Security Group for more battle tested tips on how to survive everyday life.  Thanks for reading and happy holidays!
Seriously, save me some pie. Comment with your address and I’ll be by to get it on Friday, cause you know I’m not getting involved in this mess!

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