MY STORY: My Black Friday nightmare

2017-11-24 18:06
PHOTO: Getty/ Gallo Images

PHOTO: Getty/ Gallo Images

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I’m old school. So old school am I that I still have a box television. If you break into my house and you manage to pick up and carry that three-ton box television down the stairs, you deserve to have it.

And so when Black Friday – though an American tradition – neared, I found myself thinking it might be a good idea to buy a new television set. A flatscreen like my 83-year-old dad’s. Even he has a flatscreen. He’s had it for years. And the cricket and tennis matches are always much crisper on his screen than on my housemate’s old box.

The temptation is great and I find my feet itching to go. I’m craving a new television, even though the old box still works.

Thursday afternoon after work I drive to the Game in Cresta shopping centre. There, I ask the TV salesman about all the different TV sets and brands. What does HD and Hi-Tech mean? In my defence, bear in mind that I’m technologically challenged. When my computer at work does something unexpected, I’m immediately yelling for anyone under 30 to please come and help me.

Nevertheless, I measure the width of each television, then drive home and measure the width of the TV cupboard. It’s the wrong way round – a reasonable personal would’ve first measured the cupboard and then the television.

Thursday night at 11.30pm I drive back to Game in Cresta. There are queues and more queues of people. In the remaining half-hour some people get cranky, shoving and pushing and accusing each other of jumping the queue.

At exactly midnight security guards open the doors. The horde streams into the shop. In all directions. All you see is backsides and heels. I’m somewhere in there and I make a beeline for the electronics section. I sprint to the boxes containing the brand of television I’ve identified as the right width.

Around me people are haphazardly loading boxes with televisions into their trolleys. From the corner of my eye I glimpse two guys fighting over a fridge in the kitchen appliance section. I managed to drag one of the boxes away from other reaching shoppers. Everywhere you turn, there’s someone with a trolley. Some have brought their kids along for the carnage. I’m guarding the box. “At least this box is lighter than the old TV set at home,” I think to myself.

I shove and pull and grunt my way to the till. There are two people in line ahead of me. Not many shoppers have made it this far yet. Most are still running around, grabbing stuff from shelves and flinging it into their trolleys. I see a couple running up an aisle. He’s driving the trolley and she’s throwing stuff in. I’m feeling very self-satisfied that I’m already in the queue to pay and no longer caught up in the whirlpool of human activity.

Then someone makes an announcement over the PA system. “No television set will be sold without a valid television license being provided.”

I freeze. I get hot and cold . . . after everything I’ve been through. I call my housemate to see if she’d be able to bring me our television license. She’s been in bed for hours. No answer.

I stare at the television box. It’s as if it’s staring back at me. I know it’s game over.

I walk to the cigarette counter and buy a packet and a lighter. I’m deeply disappointed. Outside I light a cigarette. And then it dawns on me: I still have the old television. So it’s not Hi-Tech or HD or anything fancy, but it still works. It’s just a little old school, like me.

Then my thoughts turn to the farmers in the drought-stricken Western Cape. The parched and empty plains of the Northern Cape. The temporary new Zimbabwean president. Famine in Sudan. War in Syria. The children of Palmyra.

The old TV and I are fine. It still works. A new TV is just a luxury. I’ll keep the old box until the day it dies.

Read more on:    black friday

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