Are you one of those people who get up in the middle of the night and head out shopping on Black Friday? I have to admit I’ve never done it. I used to work retail, though thankfully we didn’t open until 8am on Black Friday. It was a chain jewelry store, and we all had to be there at 7:30 to put the jewelry in the cases. And then we all, every last one of us, worked from open to close (which was 10PM). That’s MORE than 12 hours. When you factor in getting dressed, driving to work, driving home, and unwinding before hitting the sack, it was a very, very long day.

My boss, who wasn’t all that much older than I was, would get these huge swollen ankles as the day went on. And then he worked open to close every single day from Black Friday to Christmas Eve. His kids cried because Daddy wasn’t home. His wife had to keep the home fires burning alone — she had to do all the decorating, the shopping, the socializing, the kids’ parties, etc. It’s a wonder the man never had a heart attack. But he had to do it. It was his job, he was the breadwinner, and retail jobs aren’t exactly known for their humanitarianism. Retailers don’t care how hard they work you, or how many employees they go through. By and large.

My store didn’t, nor did the one I worked for before them. I’m soooo glad I gave that life up and did other things. I may consider getting up early on Friday to go to the mall (though I’ve always been reluctant because I know what it looks like from the opposite side of the counter), but I’d never again want to have to be there.

So please remember, if you go and the lines are huge, try to have some sympathy for the sales people. It’s not the most wonderful job in the world, and it most certainly isn’t friendly to anyone over thirty. The person waiting on you may just be more weary than you can imagine, and yet he or she has to smile and be polite anyway. And will probably have to do it for days on end without a day off.

Do you go shopping on Black Friday? Are the lines bad? Are the deals really worth it? What’s parking like? (Can you tell I’m thinking about it?) What’s the best deal you ever got?