“Once more into the fray…
Into the last good fight I’ll ever know.
Live and die on this day…
Live and die on this day…”
It’s early Thanksgiving Day, no one else in the house is up or awake…and I’m thinking about how thankful I am that I no longer work retail.
The quote at the beginning of this post is from a recent movie called “the Grey” about a group of oil rig workers who go down in a plane crash in the Arctic and attempt to survive harsh conditions and the constant threat of wolf attack. It’s a poem that’s repeated several times throughout the film and it provides some of the emotional tone of the movie. Ottway, Liam Neeson’s character, is going to survive or “go down swinging” (literally)…and repeats this poem often so that we don’t forget it.
We went to Walmart last night to pick up some supplies for our own Thanksgiving. The workers were frantically pulling shrink wrapped, “do not sell until Friday” marked pallets of various must have items throughout the store. The aisles were blocked…the workers were tired…and still they pulled their pallet jacks…yelling to each other, “there’s an open aisle in sporting goods!”…getting ready for the biggest shopping day of the year.
What a minor league hell it all is.
I am easily convinced….if the media tells me that I need to get in line to be eaten by wolves so that I can save 200 dollars on a laptop…I’m there, man! Maybe it’s just the thrill of it all…a sanctioned day of letting it all hang out, putting my most aggressive tendencies out on display…the thrill of the hunt…no tigers to bring down with a sharpened piece of flint anymore so we camp out to be first in line to get that giant flat screen that we couldn’t live without the minute they told us we couldn’t live without it.
I don’t think I could do enough to avoid it all, actually.
The Walmart workers, glassy eyed and mumbling, pulling their own version of the pyramid stones around on the tinted concrete floor…repeating under their breath, “Once more into the fray…” betray their excitement for the impending holiday season. Their brand of enthusiasm becomes contagious…until we all are glad that once more we can just “make it through” our celebration of Christ’s birthday a month later.. Maybe that’s our new marker of what it means to celebrate the holidays…that sinking feeling that maybe we won’t get a chance to get or to give the things we want if we don’t jump down into the “wolf cage” with all the other rabid shoppers….and, of course, celebrate Jesus’ birthday a month later…can’t forget that part.
I guess there’s nothing really wrong with Black Friday. It’s what we all are used to…the best and worst display of capitalism in action…the free marketplace and the madness of crowds…the thrill of the hunt when the prey is staked out for us and announced with a full color circular the week before the sale. We don’t have the opportunity to really battle anymore…to swing our broadaxe while stepping over our vanquished foes, yelling in the moonlight, announcing our victory with a crazed and sustained bellow…so to push through the crowd to get the best deal ever on a lifetime supply of shamwow towels will have to do until we can make a complete return to barbarism.
I understand that the biggest shopping day of the year is tomorrow…Black Friday. I listened when the media told me that we’d all be doing our own version of the big fight…that this was my chance, that I’d be missing out if I wasn’t out there. If I can help it…I’ll miss out…and live to go “once more into the fray” some other day.
Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving! Happy! Thanks! Giving! THANKSGIVING.