Black Friday; A Blessing or A Curse?

Christmas market
Christmas market

I booked today off from work so that I could see what all the fuss was about this day they call: black-Friday. I have never before gone out shopping on black Friday, not because I don’t love a sale, because lets face it, everyone loves a sale; I was just a bit weary because of the stories I’d heard of the crowds of crazed mothers fighting to get the last furby; grown men squaring-up over a, (dare I say it), silly Playstation game, (or X-Box; whatever); and kids screaming and whining because they want their presents right now!

Enlightened: To tell you the truth, today was actually rather pleasant. It was busy, of course, because, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but…. It’s nearly Christmas! Maybe it’s just in America where people go “OTT” for the big sales? I don’t know, but either way, I am pleased that my shopping experience on the dreaded Black Friday was a breeze.  I am also happy to say that I did bag a few deals.

Fire Alarm on Black Friday, How Inconvenient: My boyfriend and I were shopping in HMV; I had hinted more than once that I really, really wanted the first series of the O.C. You may have heard of it; I love it. Anyway, we separated in the store so that we couldn’t see what we were buying for each other. While I was looking at  remote control helicopters I noticed my other half walking very quickly towards the till, but at that same moment the fire alarms went off, so I thought he was running for the door! Yeah, without me! So I panic and start trying to run out. He notices me, chucks something on a shelf and calls me over to him.

Oh, Man: We both wait outside in the cold waiting to be allowed back into the store. We soon give up waiting and go somewhere else. Later on, after a pint or two at the Christmas market, we went back to the store that had earlier kicked everyone out. When we left the store my man says, ‘I have to tell you this even though it’ll spoil your surprise; I had the first series of the O.C for you but then the fire alarm went off, so I hid it on a shelf on the way out so that I’d remember where it was when we come back, but the woman at the till just now said that there’s only one left in stock but for some reason it’s not there on the shelf. Well that’s because I hid it. It’s so annoying!’ If I wasn’t in that store with him to witness this event, I would have thought, mm-hm, likely story that, mate! To be honest, I am just made-up that he remembered what I wanted. That’s a Christmas miracle!

Curse?: As we sauntered back to the train station we heard a man shouting, very dramatically, obscene and offensive things, very offensive; so we tried to avoid it. The man’s voice got louder and louder as we got closer to him. When the enraged man was in sight we looked down to the floor, so not to make eye-contact. As we walked past he shouted, “look at me! Do I look like a Chimpanzee”? We couldn’t help giggling, then we noticed policemen making their way towards the unfortunate soul. I’m not sure what he was thinking or feeling to make him want to stand in the middle of a busy city and shout out-loud all of these hateful and hurtful profanities, but I hope that he can find peace one day.

Positive Vibes, Finally: So, as we were strolling through this kind of negative atmosphere, we hear, lightly, an elderly man’s voice singing beautifully, Hurt by Johnny Cash, (or Nine Inch Nails), and as the volume of his gentle voice and guitar grew louder, we gradually felt at ease and then finally, happy.

When the man singing this song was in plain sight, I saw my dad. It wasn’t my dad, of course, but this busker wore a cowboy hat, had a beard and was smiling and trying to make passers by happy by chatting breifly as they passed by; this reminded me of my dad because he also has these attributes and is also a singer and guitarist. The song the man performed, Hurt, was particularly touching because it makes you think of what it may be like getting everything you think you want and then thinking, hmmm, was it really?

I stood and watched while he played a few songs, and I watched him taking the time to let people take selfies with his guitar and then with him, so that they can share their photos with the world on the internet, but these people didn’t take the time to throw any change in his battered yet humble guitar case.  Do they think that he’s there for their entertainment? Well, it appeared that he was more than happy to oblige, but why take advantage of that?

Blessing: Looking down at my shopping bags filled with presents and new clothes and then looking at the man who was providing us all with great music and presence, I thought, I’m going to give him ten pounds. (He had a guitar case with a fair amount of pound coins and change, and strangely a tin of celebration chocolates).

We waited for the selfie queens to leave the man be, and for him to start playing another song, then I walked over to the cash machine and took out ten pounds and wandered over to him and wedged the note under his tin of chocolates. I walked off swiftly, without looking up at him. I didn’t want any praise in return for this present I gave him, I just wanted him to realise that he is amazing, plays beautiful music, and deserves this. Ten pounds is not much at all, he is fully capable of earning a lot more; I just hope that this small gesture has inspired him as much as him and his music have inspired all of us Christmas shoppers, with our many bags full of plastic joy.

Final Thought: This day, Black Friday, was not at all bad. Unfortunate situations had occurred, but there was definitely a positive side to them. I suppose that it’s the way that you look at a situation that makes the difference. For instance: Some performers would be annoyed by people approaching them for pictures; some people would be angry about a fire alarm causing them to lose the last DVD of the O.C., some people may just hate the day because it’s cold outside; but that’s just because these people, which is sometimes me, look at things the wrong way, or don’t see the sunny-side, as it were. This is hard to do sometimes, but I think it’s possible with practice. Let the little things inspire you. It’s the little things that count, right?