Saturday, November 29, 2008

To DIE For...

Or to kill for: a Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV for $798, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28, a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as "The Incredible Hulk" for $9.

Those were the featured items offered to the earliest shoppers at the Wal-Mart in Valley Stream (LI), NY: the "DOOR-BUSTER Specials," for which people started lining up outside the store many hours before the store's "Black Friday" opening-time of 6 am.

Those were the items toward which Valley Stream Wal-Mart shoppers were pressing in some hundreds when they somehow managed to knock down and trample to death a temporary maintenance man--Jdimytai Damour--hired in the store just for the holiday season through a temp agency.

And now police say they're looking at surveillance video to see if they can identify any of the shoppers who were involved in the death (another shopper, a pregnant woman, also suffered injuries in the melee, causing the miscarriage of the fetus), apparently with an eye toward prosecution.

But the shoppers at the front of the line where the death and injury occurred were no better than helpless pawns, pressed against the doors til they collapsed, then spewed through the opening--and onto the unwitting Jdimytai Damour--as indiscriminately and irresistibly as water rushing through a crack in a dam.

And the shoppers behind, who created the massive, mob-like force, are only to blame for succumbing (as they have been carefully trained at home and in school since childhood to so: USer schools train terrific consumers; citizens, not so much) to the "market forces" that equate early rising with thrift, and Black Friday with "Sales," and all of it with the orgy of mythopoeic, capitalist, consumerist, corpoRat over-kill.

The real culprits are the marketeers at Wal-Mart (and Madison Ave). They're the ones who create the orgiastic hype for "door-buster sales events" with relentless barrages of ads trumpeting the "savings" to be had at the 'early bird sale.' They are the ones who ginned up the shopping frenzy with the promised price reductions. They are the ones who didn't anticipate the crushes of sheer humanity waiting like cattle at the abattoir. They incited the frenzy. They profited from it. They are responsible, no matter the dismissive non-apologies from Wal-Mart corpoRat HQ.

People flock to the early-bird/buster sales because they know--have been successfully taught by several generations of marketeers--that while the prices are good all day, the availability of the items priced as these (they're called) "Loss-Leaders" is severly restricted. The scarcity of the loss-leader items stimulates the ardor of the shopping mob (it can scarcely be called anything else) to shopping fervor that literally will drive the deal-driven trample anything (and any ONE) in between the shopper and the object of her/his carefully, corporately orchestrated purchase lust.

In the earlier thread, someone suggested this sad outcome could have been avoided if the Wal-Mart staffs had been instructed and trained in the techniques of controlling such mobs. But such concerns would have cost extra money to implement, required hiring additional people (even if only disposable temps), and that would have cut into the profit margins.

But enough of this unproductive hand-wringing. Go on! GO shopping! The Country Needs You!

And Happy Shopping Season Wishes to you and all yours from the friendly folks at International CorpoRat Mercantile Corp...!

2 comments:

Michael said...

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Ruth said...

That crowd mentality is pretty horrible, even when it isn't driven to get Things. I once was threatened by a man in a crowd going into the Metro in D.C. when I passed by him and got slightly ahead. He apologized a minute later, shamefacedly. I had my daughter with me.