Crazy Stuff Stumpy Thinks About #28: How I survived Black Friday at Woodcraft: Stumpy vs. the Zombies...

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Blog entry by StumpyNubs posted 11-25-2012 03:45 PM 5434 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 27: Old School vs I-Phones- My "traditional woodworking" manifesto... Part 28 of Crazy Stuff Stumpy Thinks About series Part 29: I had a dust collection breakthrough while eating tapioca from a hospital trash can. »

The biggest holiday of the year has just past. Bigger than Christmas, bigger than Rosh Hashanah, even bigger than Washington’s Birthday. It’s called Black Friday and for good reason. It’s the day the shopping gods are appeased by the sacrifice of virgin greenbacks. When America’s trailer parks empty and the Walmarts fill with herds of greedy consumers looking for a deal on something, anything that will satisfy their lust for stuff. I’ve seen a dozen overweight women brawl like ultimate fighters over a bin of bath towels as if they were desperately hungry and this was the last stock of government cheese. (OH SETTLE DOWN! Before you call the P.C. Police you should know that I spent a good chunk of my childhood living in a trailer park off government cheese, which makes me qualified to make a joke or two about it!)

(Your can read the rest of this blog below… or scroll to the bottom instead and listen to the audio version if you prefer my sweet, relaxing voice…)

How does a woodworker fit into this grand celebration of consumerism? As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em… well, bring a bigger club. That’s exactly what I did this past Friday. Determined to find a deal worthy of a reasonably adequate woodworker with a tendency to pinch a penny or two, I got out of bed at the crack of 9am and pointed the pickup toward Woodcraft. I was prepared, sales paper neatly folded in my pocket, wallet stuffed with plastic, pepper spray secured in a holster at my hip. You could say I was a late shopper, but you’d be wrong, so why would you say that? No, I was arriving just in time because Woodcraft doesn’t open early like the other stores. They know that woodworkers won’t camp out on the sidewalks days in advance, sacrificing sleep and dignity to save a few bucks. But I wasn’t taking anything for granted; I was prepared to defend myself should any nut-job, drunk with the holiday spirit, want a piece of this. As I pulled into my parking spot I pointed an eye in each direction like a gecko, scanning the lot for dangerous hooligans.

At this point I should tell you that I was once infected with the Black Friday disease. Yes, even I, in all my worldly wisdom and maturity, could once be found standing in predawn lines, thawing my blackened toes over tiny fires kindled among discarded McDonalds wrappers on electronics store sidewalks. I’ve elbowed my way into more than one store, emerging through narrow entryway doors with my shirt torn from my body and my pants in tatters around my ankles, scarcely alive but deeply focused on the mission ahead. The intoxicating smell of discount televisions and giant summer sausage rolls for a buck has enticed me to do things I am not proud of. I excused myself with the fact that I’d never shoved an octogenarian with a walker or used a child as a human shield. But I’ve lost a great deal of self-respect simply by being among the crowd as passersby mockingly honk their horns and shout expletives on their way home to warm beds as we fend off hypothermia with body to body heat. I have spent long hours waiting to save fifty bucks without considering that a minimum wage job would net me more for those hours, and spared me the painful amputation of frostbitten digits. So I speak from experience, from wisdom earned the hard way. You might even call it street smarts. I know the sort of people that a reasonable shopper must look out for, because I once was that sort of person. I’d kill you for a cup of lukewarm coffee as soon as look at you.

So as I emerged from my pickup at Woodcraft my senses were keenly alert. I scanned the sidewalks in all directions like a man in a horror movie being stalked by brain hungry zombies. I gripped a chunk of hardwood in my right hand, spikes fashioned from drywall screws driven through the end. I sniffed the wind, listened intently for any sign of danger. But there was none. The few customers I saw seemed to be human and they were filing into the store with order and something I had never seen before: I think my grandfather used to call it…. manners. One man held the door for another who smiled, yes, SMILED! This was no day for smiling! This was Black Friday! It had to be a trick; I resolved keep my guard up. But even so I surrendered my club and stalked toward the entrance with my hand over my pepper spray like a desperado ready for the quick- draw. As I entered the store the scent of coffee struck me in the face like a slab of hard maple. I wasn’t expecting this, it felt wrong. The lady at the front counter greeted me by name and I shouted “LEAVE ME ALONE! I’M JUST BROWSING!”

This is where the whole incident took a dramatic turn. You see, I had come expecting to be molested by angry crowds whipped into frenzy by the tantalizing sales papers and the heartless employees mocking us through the glass as they delayed opening the store for a few seconds just to see if one of us would go off the deep end. But I found no long lines at Woodcraft, no toothless cussing or savage beatings among unruly shoppers. People were browsing, chatting, even laughing and enjoying themselves! The “door-buster” items that many had come for were easy to locate, without the crushing disappointment of losing out on the last one to some teenager with an infected nose ring that is clearly just going to put it on ebay and make a tidy profit. I drank three cups of coffee without a rebuke from anyone; the salespeople were accommodating, even friendly.

Now, you may think an internet woodworking celebrity such as me would have a hard time in a Woodcraft store. But I swear it was as if I was just another customer. Nobody asked for an autograph, not a single child peed his pants with excitement, nor did any of the store’s female clientele toss their undergarments at me when I walked down the aisle. I hovered around the front of the store for a good long time just to confirm my suspicion, and was satisfied that everyone was just too polite to bother me. Clearly they were trying their best to pretend that they didn’t know that I was among them, and I was very grateful for their convincing act. I collected my items, drank another cup of free coffee and checked out with speed and efficiency. It was like an episode of the Twilight Zone, without the poor acting and even poorer special effects. In a city full of chaos, where sirens could be heard in the distance as emergency personal rushed to the latest scene of consumer carnage, I had found an oasis of peace and tranquility, a place where a person could spend a little more than he could afford without feeling like a steer in a stampede toward the killing floor with the smell of blood in the air. I wasn’t shoved; nobody tried to feel me up. I only had to throw one punch and that was over a cookie, so it’s at least partially excusable.

The bottom line is this… I survived Black Friday at Woodcraft because woodworkers know how to deal with shopping without losing their minds. We don’t shoot anyone; we don’t get into our cars and try to run down the guy who got the last VCR. We are a breed of honest, reasonable people, with a ratio of nut-jobs that is infinitesimal when compared to your average population. I take at least partial credit for that, as the host of Blue Collar Woodworking. I mean, after all, what calms the holiday nerves better than good old fashioned woodworking entertainment from a chubby guy with questionable skills?

Next year, I might even leave my flak jacket at home. But the pepper spray stays on my hip. You never know when you’ll need it.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

15 comments so far

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2101 days

#1 posted 11-25-2012 04:02 PM

Hysterical! Made my day.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View Bagtown's profile


1739 posts in 3756 days

#2 posted 11-25-2012 04:33 PM

Glad you’re safe.

-- Mike - In Fort McMurray Alberta

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2807 days

#3 posted 11-25-2012 04:34 PM

Very well done Stumpy, very well done ;-)

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View DocSavage45's profile


8601 posts in 2869 days

#4 posted 11-25-2012 05:00 PM

Maybe you could call it ” A fistfull of Pepper Spray” . Move over Rod Serling! It’s almost like “The News from Lake Woe Be Gone” LOL! Hope you got your treasures. Happy Thanksgiving..Black Friday…Cyber Saturday!

Only in America!?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2883 days

#5 posted 11-25-2012 05:40 PM

Good fun Stumpy

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Grumpymike's profile


2263 posts in 2341 days

#6 posted 11-25-2012 05:53 PM

Well worth the reading … sure put a smile on my face.
My wife was reading over my shoulder and chuckling, spilling warm wet coffee down my back … I think it was coffee … ??

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2701 days

#7 posted 11-25-2012 07:22 PM

Very uplifting to know that civilized behaviour is still in fashion, even if the people displaying it are not (in fashion)!!!

I avoided the “Black Friday” madness, at WOODCRAFT”, by getting the manager to honor “Black Friday” pricing on Saturday.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2640 days

#8 posted 11-25-2012 08:41 PM

Stumpy you are a mess , your humor and wit always bring a good laugh to me ,thanks my friend ,but you may want to keep your flak jacket :)

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3512 days

#9 posted 11-25-2012 09:04 PM

The local Rocklers opened it’s Black Friday doors at 7:00am, to a rather sedate crowd of around 50 knuckleheads, studying their sales flyer, plus a few ladies. The guy in front of me was affable enough and swore he was only there to pick up a drill bit he needed to finish a project. He’d have no part of this crazy Black Friday nonsense. He walked through the door and made a beeline for the 1hp Trend router on sale, then over to the router table tops, and from there to most of the end cap sale items. He walked out with two arms full of doorbuster specials. I figure ~$500 worth, easy, maybe more. Not sure if he ever got around to picking up that bit.

The local Woodcraft opened it’s Black Friday doors at 9:00am, just like any other Friday. The aroma of coffee, donuts, and kolaches filled the store. I had one of each. I picked up a half dozen 6” F-clamps and ordered a waterstone with a coupon, and oh yeah, the Osborne miter gauge on sale. You can never have to many miter gauges.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Mip's profile


453 posts in 2104 days

#10 posted 11-25-2012 09:15 PM

I, too, went to Woodcraft on Friday, and to my surprise, there were no unruly crowds, just a steady stream of patient, polite customers coming and going. One of the things I went for were already sold out, but I knew from the sales flyer that they would honor the prices all day long, and I think on Saturday. Not to burst your bubble, DIYaholic, but they honored the prices for everybody all day Friday. Shoot, I told them I wanted two of the sold out items coming in a week from Monday, I was overwhelmed by all of the politeness all around. Now all I have to do is wait until then. I hope I can keep my stress level in check until then.
I think the patience comes from having to wait until the glue and the finish to dry.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3135 days

#11 posted 11-25-2012 11:51 PM

I am glad you survived Stumpy. I had the misfortune of needing a Christmas tree light tester and stopped at my local Walmart. Unfortunately, the line for the larger HDTV was channeled through that area. I tried to explain that I had no interest in a tv and only needed a 5 dollar item. I started running toward the exit when I heard people screaming “He’s cutting in line…Kill Him!”

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View DamnYankee's profile


3301 posts in 2588 days

#12 posted 11-25-2012 11:59 PM


-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2101 days

#13 posted 11-26-2012 02:42 AM

Ah, it’s a pity indeed, but it’s not only in the US. We have Black Friday and Cyber Monday and Black Friday weekend now – ??? Of course it’s not close to a holiday here, and I’d hazard a guess that many Canucks don’t even know why it’s called that.
(Okay, I have no idea myself….) All I know is that on Black Friday, DO. NOT. GO. TO. THE. MALL.

Just did some reading:

“Its more modern application is in regard to profitability for the day. So a lot of people think that the black in Black Friday refers to ledger books going from negative values, which would be in the red, into positive values, which is into the black. Some research I did sort of indicates that this term probably originated in the late fifties, early sixties, and it was probably used as a term, sort of a pejorative term, a sort of tongue-in-cheek term to refer to the day after Thanksgiving as a day of disaster and woe, where downtown Philadelphia was completely swamped with holiday shoppers. And we think that the police department, members of the police force had this as a slang description for that day, because they were going to be faced with huge traffic woes and probably snarling customers on sidewalks. It was just going to be a real headache for police and probably for transit workers like cab drivers and bus drivers as well.”

There. I learned something today.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7601 posts in 2827 days

#14 posted 11-26-2012 02:46 AM

It’s called “Black Friday” because of the deep, dark, hopeless depression that accompanies your credit card bill once it arrives following the day’s indiscretions.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2830 days

#15 posted 11-26-2012 11:43 AM

You said it all Stumps. Very good.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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