Friday, December 4, 2009


Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, was the day the stock market crashed, and the beginning of the great depression.

"Black" -- stands for gloomy, bad, sorrowful, dirty, filthy, foul, grubby, impure, squalid, unclean, and gloomy implies bleak, depressing, dismal, dispiriting, dreary, funereal, oppressive, somber.

Also it means atramentous (new word for me, synonym for pitch-black).

For me -- that "Black" Friday has been named, touted, and sold to us as a tradition is one of the reasons why I would never, never shop on that day.

Subway "rush hour" -- well, it's a black time, not atramentous, but definitely not a good time. However, if you have to travel during rush hour, you'll adjust -- tolerate the dismal feeling, the wrong feeling, the discomfort of being pressed, crushed against people you don't know.

Those strangers -- all of them avoiding your eyes, trying to depersonalize the situation, as you pretend to read the ads, You look between the shoulders, necks, heads, torsos at ads and the dark windows that show nothing, and get a sense of traveling, moving, time passing, getting you somewhere.

And then the subway slows. You're relieved -- even as people squirm and wriggle around each other, trying not to touch, as they wend their way from a pole they were holding onto, to the door, outside of which stands a crowd waiting to rush, push, cram themselves in -- and finally you're able to take a deep breath, push through them and get out.

Relieved, freed, almost smiling, you go about your business -- picking up something, meeting someone ... whatever ... The ordeal served a purpose -- it got you there.

Standing in a spiraling long line to get to the ticket window in a crowded theater on an opening night -- that's black time. You're sweating. You have to get into the theater, and you know that, people surrounding you feel the same way.

There's nothing you can do, except want to get to that window. And then, after you've gotten there, gotten your ticket, wended your way to your seat, removed and draped your coat, avoiding the elbows, shoulders of the stranger who's sitting next to you, you re-find yourself. You have a space, a place you own, and you are back to being you.

Traveling in a subway rush is a means to an end. Standing in a ticket line is a means to an end. That you, yourself committed yourself to the discomfort, said "yes" -- well, you accomplished something -- you did what you wanted to do.

But shopping? You don't have to be there. You don't have to compete with strangers, fight to get in, bump, be bumped, push and be pushed, hate and be hated by others -- a tribe of blind-faced, bargain-hunters, who've closed down the humanness in themselves in order to get ... what?

To see what bargains, price-tagged victories can be seized before someone else seizes them?

C'mon, that's not a competition, or a game with a winner or loser, or a war with a cause, a reason, an objective. What's the end result? A piece of clothing? An object, some equipment that you need, though it isn't absolutely essential -- but you want it, if the cost has been reduced by ... five dollars, $25 -- $50 -- 10 percent, 20 percent?

Hey, it's a sale, and a sale is a sale -- by definition a melee -- strangers jammed together, pushing, shoving, grabbing, fighting to outdo one another. The event puts restrictions, creates complications on what you buy for less, and more than likely, what you end up with, is not what you sort of thought you wanted.

Em Advice:

Don't shop, never shop, keep away from stores on black Fridays. Shop two days after the Christmas holiday is over. Or wait till after New Year's -- and go -- not when the doors open, but later, when it's personally convenient for you to look, see, feel what you want, and be able to calculate if it's something you really want, need, and is the cost worth it?

Em Principle:

Don't buy any over-advertised anything ... a product, an idea, a "sale." Don't get seduced by someone telling you it's a must see, must do. In the crowd that is doing the same thing as you, you take on the "crowd" mentality and lose what you are, what you feel -- you don't even know what you want.
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