Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday

The following takes place between 7 and 11 p.m. (28 hours):

My cell phone takes 2 hours to charge completely from a dead battery. When you plug it in, a small little pin sized light will show red until fully charged, when it will then turn green.

7:00 p.m. (Thurs): I arrive at Meijer in Milford, Ohio and await for my sister, Chrystal, to arrive. I take one last glance over adds from the paper. Finally, at 7:15 she arrives. We then sat and talked about where we should go to get in line for some serious shopping. After a small discussion, we left for Toys R Us at Eastgate.

7:30 p.m. (Thurs): We drive through White Castle and get a large pop (we would pay for that later) and 2 white castles each (other in line would pay for that later).

7:33 p.m. (Thurs): We are both very happy.

7:45 p.m. (Thurs): We arrive at Toys R Us expecting to mingle in to a crowd and take our place. Just one thing...there was nobody there! (see above photo)

Amazed that there was no line, we then made our way to an area Best Buy to see if there was a line there. There was! Nearly 50 people were already in line, most of which were in tents. Some said they had been there since 8:00 a.m. that morning...can you imagine getting in line that early? What were they thinking?

8:00 p.m. (Thurs): We arrive back at Toys R Us...still noone is there. We decide to go over adds and make a list while sitting in my van of everything we needed to purchase in the morning. We get started when we are visited by Rick and Rachel. They hop in the van and aid in our planning. Finally, after writing out and counting objectives, it was agreed that our Friday shopping would begin at Toys R Us. After taking a trip to UDF gas station (see large white castle drink reference), Rick and Rachel leave and still no one is at Toys R Us.

8:45 p.m. (Thurs): Not much going on so we decided to follow a car that drove past Toys R Us. After stalking them for a while around the mall, we decided to go back before looking suspicious. Surely someone was there by now.

9:00 p.m. (Thurs): Nope, no one there. We sit in the van and decide to play a game of Phase 10. After totally humiliating Chrystal in phase 10, we decide again to drive around the mall a few times to see if there was any life. There was none, we seemingly were the only people in Ohio foolish enough to be out at the mall area at that time (except Best Buy).

10:00 p.m. (Thurs): There is movement! Finally there is a car that pulls up with 2 teen boys in it. But they stay in their car. We were ready to hop out at any moment and run to our well deserved first place in line, but for now, they stayed in their car. 2 minutes later another car with two more teen boys in it. Then a minute later and man drops off a teen boy who walks up to other teens in their car....what is going on? Chrystal and I are watching, scrutinizing every move. Drug deal maybe? Or were they all after the same thing and were ready to steal our spot in front of the line. From our van we watched until finally they headed towards the door. Our hands trembling with excitement, we were ready to pounce out of the van and run to our claimed place in the line. They stopped and talked again. Chrystal grabs the Toys R Us ad and looks through it. "What would teen boys be after at Toys R Us?" We guessed possible XBox? Or Guitar Hero? PS3? It was then a man in a red shirt with a giraffe comes out and says "Time for work boys!" Ah, they were employees. We settled back in our van seats exhausted from the hustle and bustle and mental activity. What else would this night bring us? We had no idea.

10:30 p.m. (Thurs): Ricky calls and informs us that KB Toys in the mall behind us opened at midnight. We immediately drive to the mall only to find no one in line. We then decided we would come back at midnight and see what KB TOys had and then get in line for Toys R Us. We parked back at Toys R Us and settled in to a game of electronic Scrabble, and again, I destroyed Chrystal at that too.

11:15 p.m. (Thurs): Our game was coming to a close, the van had been turned off for nearly 30 minutes, but then the unthinkable happened. The van, starting behind the steering wheel made an odd sound. The sound traveled from behind the steering wheel to behind the glove compartment. Those 5 seconds we both sat silent watching the sound with our eyes travel from one side of the van to the other. It ended. We looked at each other. "What was that?" I ask. Chrystal pondered and said, "I really don't know...I think the van has gas." To this day, we don't know what the sound was.

11:30 p.m. (Thurs): Our game ends with a Travis victory and we decide to go check out KB toys. We arrive and find 400 people in line outside the mall. We pull up and Chrystal hops out and asks a lady in line: "What all are you in line for?" She replied, "Most of us KB Toys." Now I don't know what the others could have possibly been in line for, but the rest were going to KB. We began to look for a parking place to get in line when Chrystal said, "Wait, when these people get done, where do you think they will go next?" TOYS R US...oh no they don't. We dropped the idea of a KB visit and headed back to our empty Toys R Us parking lot. But first, a visit to White Castle (for bathroom visit only-see above reference large soda).

Midnight (Fri): We arrive at Toys R Us and there is another car there. So far, they stayed in their car, but we were taking no chances, we drove up to the curb and placed our camping chairs in the front of the line to reserve our deserved spot. We then stayed in the van and watched as a second then third then fourth car arrived. We all knew what we were there for, and we all watched one another, but in an unspoken treaty, we stayed in our cars. In what seemed to be a "Cold War esque" hour, we all waited in our warm cars watching and waiting for someone to make the first move.

1 a.m. (Fri): A suzuki pulls in with a lady with a determined look on her face. She parks right next to me and I knew from the look in her eye, she was getting out! "Go Chrystal, Go!" I shouted. Off Chrystal went running (well moving quicker than usual) to our chairs. She sat and we were officially first in line. The other lady did take the number 3 slot and soon cars emptied and by 1:10 a line was formed. I was still in the warm van preparing my coat and hat and things, but I soon arrived and we bundled up and covered up and took our place FIRST IN LINE!!!

1:30 a.m. (Fri): Soon our line was nearly up to 50 and we were freezing. It was then Chrystal made a sound: "Wheeoow" What was it? It was another girl in a skirt. Our immediate thought is always, we must know them; and this time we were right. It was Jordan and Jaelyn Wilson from church. And what was that in their hands? HOT CHOCOLATE! What a blessing the two Wilsons were to our cold innerts, and soon we were all four fellowshipping with hot cocoa. Jordan made fun of us for being out there and said he would soon be home in his nice warm bed. For now, I would take the ridicule, for he was a blessing, he and his cocoa.

1:45 a.m. (Fri): Chrystal leaves and takes another rest room break (see above White castle reference). Jordan agrees to hold her spot in line for her. She soon returned, but Jordan and Jaelyn stay...could it be they are having fun? Could it be it was enjoyable to be out like this? Could it be they were going to stay? Could it be somehow they line jumped in front of 100 people and got away with it? OHHH YEAAH!!

2:30 a.m. (Fri): A lady pulls up in an SUV. Chrystal is standing allowing Jaelyn (who stole her seat...and jacket...and blanket...and my gloves) to sit awhile. The lady jumps out of the SUV to tell her daughter, who is in line behind us, something. Chrystal leans up against the grill of her SUV searching for heat. The owner laughed and said "I don't blame you, I'd probably jump in the car." She did! Well, she did after I told her I would give her $5 to jump in, shut the door and crank the heat up. I am $5 poorer. After her quick warm up, she exits to a thunder of laughter from the people behind us. Was she that desparate for warmth or were our brains numb with coldness? Yes to both.

3:30 a.m. (Fri): David Kohl from the associate press comes up and interviews us and asks if he can take our picture. We agreed. He told us not to look at him, but to sit there and look cold and act like we are tired but having a good time. That wasn't hard to do. After taking 50, yes 50, pictures, he got our name and thanked us. Well, we are in the weekend edition of USA TODAY! Here is the pic he took that is in the paper:

Was that to be our moment of fame for the night? Ohhh no, it had just begun, but it was a good start.
4:30 a.m. (Fri): It was nearing time! We all soon arose from our wintery slumber and obtained a shopping cart. It was then channel 12 news arrived. They were going live and decided to interview us in the front of the line. After answering a few questions off air, they went live and we waved and smiled from the front of the line. It was then my sister said, "Chrystal Snell!" Why? We are not sure, she just wanted everyone on the news to hear her name. Soon the camera was back on and so was my sister's mouth "Chrystal Snell...Chrystal Snell." Soon people in line began chanting, "Chrystal Snell, Chrystal Snell" It was quite the scene. She then began a rumor and passed it down the line, that there was a special gift to all who entered saying the name "Chrystal Snell."
5:00 a.m. (Fri): The doors are about to open. The reporter lady asks us, "What is it you are all after." To which we replied, "A bathroom." The doors flew open and in we went, most behind us saying "Chrystal Snell" to the employee as they entered. he was very confused. The wave of people made browsing impossible, we were pushed through the store grabbing what we needed...but we were first!! Finally I was in the check out line awaiting to check out. The lady from channel 12 then asked if she could interview me live on the news. "Absolutely." (like I would pass that up). She told me not to look at her, but to look ahead and look "busy and dissheveled." (again, no problem). She asked if it was true I was first in line and what was it that I was after. I told her I was first in line with my sister and that I was there for one main watch all the crazy people. She laughed and finished the interview and again we would be in the world's spotlight (so we assumed).
5:23 a.m. (fri): We are out of Toys R Us and off to location number 2....Walmart! The lines at Toys R Us were bad, but we escaped the damage by being in front of the line. Walmart was a different story. Crowds pushed and pulled us in directions we didn't want to go. Soon I found myself in the greeting card section, stuck, needing not one greeting card. After escaping Walmart (only 1 arrested for taking a lady's camera) we headed off to Kohls.
6:30 a.m.: At Kohls we immediatly engaged in operation Shop. Chrystal got in the check out line while I shopped. I found my things and then got in line where she was while she shopped. (very affective means to save time). Chrystal got a few things, but was not able to get her portable DVD player she was after. Walmart was out of them and Kohls were a little bit more expensive. Finally she returned and we estimated we had about 5 minutes before checking out. I told her I would look for the portable DVD player that maybe someone decided not to get and leave at an odd place in the store. This too happens much and is profitable most times. I soon saw a DVD player sitting on the floor next to two sweaters and a lady's purse. There were three ladies within a clothes rack of the purse and DVD player...that is all I can share of that story.
7:45 a.m.: We find ourselves in Sears where I am after a TomTom GPS for Stacey to buy me for Chritmas. They are out of stock there and I am disappointed. I also am after a vacuum for Stacey for Christmas (She asked for it). I am thankful for the kindness and help of the Trevor Burkle that helped me (ironic isn't it?) but they too were out of the vacuums.
8:15 a.m.: We get my TomTom at HHGregg. I am happy again.
8:45 a.m: We arrive at Target and are able to get a few items. The crowds are lessining and so is our strength.
9:30: Breakfast at CrackerBarrell. Now we are very tired!
11:00 a.m.: I drop off Chrystal back at Meijer to get her car. We load up her stuff and head to our homes. We would meet again at 4 at her house for our Thanksgiving celebration.
Noon (Fri): I arrive at home and check the internet for the 12 news story and the AP picture. I am very excited to see both and call family to share the good news.
12:30 p.m.: I play with the new TomTom a while and then plug in my nearly dead cell phone and lie down. I remember a red pin sized light shining as I went to sleep.
2:00 p.m.: I awaken and still see a red light shining. With a phone not fully recharged and a body the same, I head back out towards Chrystal's house. On the way I pick up some Chinese food (our Thansgiving tradition) and get to her house about 4. We then played a board game and took some pictures of the kids.
7:00 p.m.: I received a phone call that one of our ladies at church had been taken to the hospital. So, in a T-shirt and flight pants I headed toward the hospital. After convincing the nurse that I was a pastor (usually I would change, but my home in an hour away and the hospital is 5 min from Chrystal's house) I finally got to see her and another man in our church.
9:00 p.m. I return to Chrystal's and pick up my family and head towards home. The roads are blurry and for some reason the yellow lines are curvy tonight.
10:00 p.m.: Finally I am home. I get the children in bed and put up some things and sit and think about the day. What a wonderful day it had been.
While I didn't buy alot, the day was a total success. Again, for the third year in a row, I got to see people get in fights, people get arrested, people shoved to the ground. But more importantly I got to make memories for another year. I got to spend time with my sisters and laugh and cut up. We had those around us laughing nearly to tears. In the words of Jordan (who stayed with us until after walmart)"That was the funnest time ever." I promise there are more stories that I will let Chrystal share if she chooses.
So I lay my head on my pillow with a smile on my face. I sure am thankful. Not for stuff or discounts or door buster deals; but for family, and laughs, and the love we can share, and the joy we can share with others. Another great thanksgiving....the little red light blurrs off into the night. Hopefully it and me will be ready and recharged for tomorrow!