Celebrate Black Friday, Our Most Successful Export
As most of you know, I was traveling this Thanksgiving. As I touched down in London, UK, I was greeted by giant signs proclaiming different sites and strategies for dealing with Black Friday. I won’t bore you with the details, but with the drollness the Brits are famous for, women laid out different strategies. From practicing with tackling dummies, to shooting soccer goals with their packages, there was a real effort to get people out for Black Friday. I shook my head, thinking it was because our cultures are so similar. After all, we are mostly British in our laws. (Just ask Lefty!)
I sidetrack into talking to some of my friends in Europe. One friend in particular, from Denmark, was ecstatic about Black Friday. I hit some sites, German and Spanish mainly. Yep, Black Friday proudly proclaimed as virtually a national holiday. Everyone having big sales. And yes, women strategizing about how to get the best deals, where to park, what trains to take, how to fight off the soccer hooligans, and how to make our husband become a yak for a day. (I’m not kidding.) I figure it’s because we have a lot of European descendants in America, that makes sense.
I touch down in Kiev, Ukraine. Coming into the airport, wheels not even on the ground, I see a sign. “черная пятница”. You gotta be kidding me. Black Friday. In Russian. There’s a similar sign I can’t read. My seat mate tells me it’s Ukrainian for, you guessed it, Black Friday. He proceeds to tell me they (Ukrainians) love America and want what we have, a booming economy. I appreciate his enthusiasm, but considering the corruption in Ukraine along with Russian troops storming around in the east, it won’t be any time soon. But they DO have Black Friday.
I have some friends on my private FB from St. Petersburg. Yep, Black Friday. I write an email to a new friend from New Zealand, asking about Black Friday and when it started for them. “Years and years, mate! It’s a great way to save! And the women love the blood sport!” (Ok, he didn’t say that last part, but having helped several women close to me battle through the crowds, I have demanded hazard pay, and luckily haven’t had to participate in several years.)
I’m staying at Maidan, the site of the protests and gunfire and battles that claimed so many lives last year. It looks the same from a macro level, but the broken tiles, ruined pools and fountains that ran year round, and the burned out building across from my apartment I usually stay in testify to the violence and passions unleashed. There are protests and counter protests to the remembrance of those days last year, that happen to coincide with the anniversary of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine that brought in the hope of Democracy. There were maybe 5000 people around in Maidan, which includes Independence Square, where I stay.
I just survived “черная пятница” in Kiev. Everyone was crushing into all the malls. Places were busy, but shop keepers told me no one was buying. Inflation and a weak hyrvnia combined to make everyone wish but not buy. I saw a Samsung tablet, with a camera and all the gizmos on it, for 888UAH. That’s 43 bucks.
It’s amazing how the world has responded to a specifically American “holiday”. We are the only country that celebrates Thanksgiving, yet the whole world celebrates our mercantile mindset. Nations all over he world are trying to follow America’s example when it comes to commerce. It occurs to me, this is the weapon we need to use. Teaching other countries how to be businessmen and not oligarchs would further the entire planet. While we are telling everyone in America not to forget why we celebrate Thanksgiving and not to focus on Black Friday, I will be contrary, say, “Celebrate Black Friday, our most successful export”.
Patrick J. Bertroche