Ed Quillen: Living life from Black Friday to Blue Monday
December 5, 2008
We seem to keep adding special days to the calendar. There was Thanksgiving. It was followed by Black Friday, when all good Americans rush to the nearest Wal-Mart and trample a clerk to death. Three days later there was Cyber Monday, when you were expected to overload the Web servers of online sellers of electronic gadgets.
Black Friday should not be confused with Black Tuesday, when the American stock market crashed on Oct. 29, 1929. There were other dark days then on account of stock market drops: Black Thursday on Oct. 24, 1929, and Black Monday on Oct. 28, 1929.
Now the stock market swings so violently that its days no longer get such recognition.
The shopping day Black Friday seems to have come from Philadelphia, where in 1965 the police used that term to describe their woes with traffic when crowds headed downtown to shop on the day after Thanksgiving. In recent years, there’s been a positive spin, describing it as the day many retailers get into the black for the year.
Normally, I celebrate Black Friday by staying indoors by the fire. But this year my brother Tony, who lives in South Carolina, was visiting my parents in Longmont. I seldom get to see him. His wife is also named Martha, so we could celebrate the world’s largest gathering of Martha Quillens ” both of them.
Despite a little snow in Salida on Friday morning, the trip to Longmont was smooth. I bought nothing but gasoline on Black Friday.
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Come Saturday, I figured I’d take another turn at disappointment. The problem is that I’m getting too old and sore to keep swinging an 8-pound maul to split firewood. For a while, I could psych myself up by thinking that a given chunk of cordwood resembled Dick Cheney or Alberto Gonzales, and feeling delighted when it cleaved.
But that thrill paled, so I started looking for a small electric-powered hydraulic wood-splitter. A friend commended the Ryobi 4-ton model, which is apparently carried only by Home Depot and could not be found in Salida.
In early October I had business in Pueblo. I made some calls. The Canon City store had none in stock, but the Pueblo store said it had three. When I got there, no employee could find where the splitters would be if they had any.
The slogan must have changed from “You can do it. We can help.” to “You can’t do it because we can’t find it.”
In early November, I had a speaking gig in Colorado Springs. None of its four stores had the splitters in stock. While in Longmont for Thanksgiving, I figured I might as well try. On the phone, I heard there were two in stock. At the store, the first two employees couldn’t find one. But the third could, so I actually did some serious shopping on Black Friday weekend.
We timed our trip back to Salida perfectly, for we got over Kenosha Pass before it was closed on account of snow and wind, and thus I sat comfortably at home on Cyber Monday.
Why not add a few more of these days to the vernacular?
We could have Black-and-White Wednesday, when you buy gift subscriptions to newspapers. And Red Thursday, devoted to buying products made in Colorado, which is Spanish for “red.” Or Green Saturday, when you walk, bike or take public transit to do your holiday shopping for environmentally friendly products. And why not a Seafoam Sunday or a Teal Tuesday for creative retailers?
Alas, there comes Blue Monday ” the first Monday of the new year after your credit-card statement arrives. There is, of course, the patriotic consolation that you are doing your bit to revitalize the national economy.