The 7 Worst Black Friday Horror Stories (And Why You Should Stay Away From Stores This Year)
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Let me cut to the chase: You should not go shopping on Friday. Black Friday is amateur night (and morning, afternoon, and evening) – a time when shoppers work themselves into a frenzy over deals that aren’t even the best of the season.
Also, this year retailers have really crossed a line with regard to how they treat their workers. Asking employees to be ready for 5am “door busters” is crazy enough, but now some big chains have pushed back their opening time to 8pm on Thursday evening – before the Thanksgiving food coma has even set in.
Another thing slated to happen this Black Friday is a nationwide strike by many Wal-Mart employees. Employees in 12 cities have been walking off the job and picketing for the past week or so, and they’ve planned a wide range of actions for Friday. Sarah Jaffe explains why at the Guardian:
Walmart is by far the nation's largest retailer, with 2.2 million employees (the next largest is Target with 365,000), and its low wages have set the tone for a nation where the majority of jobs created in the so-called economic recovery pay less than $13.83 per hour....
Beyond the wage issue, the strikers are fighting for respect and fair treatment: the ultimatum given the company in order to prevent the Black Friday actions was not a raise, but a call to end the retaliation against workers who speak out.
Do you really want to be the person crossing these workers’ picket lines so you can save a few bucks on a TV? (By the way, you can sponsor a Wal-Mart striker here.)
In case you somehow still find yourself tempted by Black Friday’s siren song, check out these horror stories from years past. They’ll remind you why Black Friday is and has always been a huge nightmare, even in years when workers weren’t on strike and sales weren’t going on in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner.
1. Wal-Mart worker trampled to death.
Perhaps the most famous, and one of the most tragic, story of Black Friday violence involves the 2008 death of Jdimytai Damour, a temporary holiday worker as a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, New York.
The New York Times reported at the time that the crowd outside the store had been building since the wee hours of the morning; the cops were called in to do crowd control as early as 3:30. Just before 5, things turned ugly:
Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him.
Damour was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead within the hour. Four other individuals, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, were also injured in the stampede.
2. Two people shot to death in Toys R Us.
Also in 2008, two men died in a shooting at a Toys R Us in Palm Desert, California.
The AP reports that the shooting occurred after two of the men’s female companions got into a fight and started punching each other. The men then drew their guns and shot at each other in the store. Reportedly the incident “wasn't related to a shopping frenzy” and the fight didn’t originate over a toy. Still, many Black Friday in the store were clearly traumatized. “I was scared," shopper Joan Barrick told the AP. "I didn't want to die today. I really didn't want to die today, and I think that's what we were all thinking."