It’s that time of year; students are either working on essays or getting a head-start on exam preparation, or both. The oddly balmy weather makes its feeble last stand before giving into winter, and the holidays are on everyone’s minds. Right here at the start of the season our neighbours to the south celebrate not one, but two distinctly gruesome holidays: Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Falling on Nov. 29 this year, Black Friday has been around for decades in one sense or another. Given that it comes around just before December, the weekend has long been seen as the start of the holiday shopping season, and thus stores would logically commemorate the time with unbeatable deals. The name itself originates from the idea that retailers offered the sales to take them out of the red and into the black, speaking in terms of their profits.
As early as 2006 and possibly earlier, injuries were recorded at Black Friday events. However, in 2008 at a Wal-Mart in Long Island, Black Friday became more than just an opportunity for those tenacious holiday gift shoppers. At that particular sales event, a temporary maintenance worker was trampled to death by the crowd that lined up for the store’s opening. This was in addition to four other individuals who were injured, one of whom was pregnant.
Since then, another six people have died in connection to Black Friday. A southern California shooting, also in 2008, claimed two lives. In 2011 an elderly man collapsed and was trampled by other customers. More recently, three deaths have been attributed indirectly to the event, with drivers operating on little to no sleep crashing their cars and claiming lives on their return from a Black Friday event.
The vehicular deaths are indeed indirect and difficult to attribute with any true basis to the sales event. Also, the shootings definitely raise more issues with guns than they do with Black Friday events. But the trampling? There have been dozens of people injured as a result of being trampled at a Black Friday event, and three of those have died, for nothing more than an on-sale holiday-season must-have item. Just last year an eleven-year-old was hospitalized after being run over by a crowd in a Wal-Mart in New Boston, Texas.
It raises the question, why is this still happening? Far be it from anyone to suggest that the sales themselves at this time of year be banned, but couldn’t there be a mandate for more order? If you’re aware of the fact that events like these have killed people in the past, wouldn’t you be more careful when lining up and entering the store?
Time will tell whether the needless deaths of a few will change the actions of the many, or if we’ll see another tragedy this upcoming Friday. Luckily, Black Friday isn’t a big a deal in Canada, but that’s not stopping local stores from capitalizing on the hype. As odd as it seems to say, if you want to be safe this Black Friday, simply hold out for Cyber Monday. All the deals you could want right at your computer, where you’re unlikely to be overtaken by a stampede of like-minded consumers.