It started in America but has bled to many countries across the world. The Black Friday phenomenon. What began as the big holiday sale day of the year, the day after Thanksgiving has grown into a monster that some obnoxious sellers begin earlier in the week and has extended to Cyber Monday – the Monday after Thanksgiving.
People lose their minds over these sales. I don’t understand the need to get in on a sale so deep that people camp out overnight to be in front of the lines for the doors opening. What? Do you need “things” so much? I’ll never get it.
The husband and I do however really love people watching and Black Friday is one of the best people watching days of the year. People are assholes, people are kind. People are selfish, people are gracious.
Living in Italy, the husband having the day off and actually being home this year for this big day we decided to join the masses a bit. Going on base to shop at the Navy Exchange then the mall for lunch basically. That was the plan, not going super early to stand in lines, just going when we were ready and we were prepared to be patient. We had a couple of things to buy if we found them and a deal.
We left the house at around 9:00 am and it’s about a 20-25 minute drive to base, typically. There was a notice sent out that there was a strike happening on this day, the Italian staff who work the shops on base were demonstrating outside the front gate so we were a bit prepared for low staff in the shops. We were not prepared for the idiocy of the protest. It took 30 minutes just to get from the highway to the gate which normally is a 2 minute drive. Traffic was backed up due to the people with signs literally walking in the street blocking progress. As we got closer inch by inch I saw a worker I knew was passing next to our car so I asked him what the strike was about and what they were protesting and the guy actually couldn’t give me a clear answer. He didn’t even know why he was out there.
I found out later they were striking over the hours they were working, not sure if it was too many hours or not enough but apparently they aren’t happy with their very nice pay and being employed in a city with a high unemployment rate and I assume getting U.S. wages, not local economy wage. The biggest gripe about this to me is that the Italian government has a contract with the U.S. that a certain (very high) percentage of the staff on the military base must be Italian locals so spouses of our military are very limited on job availability here. It’s a main reason why I am not working here.
So, we finally got on base and headed to the stores and ran our errands, shopped, found the couple of things and finally made it out and towards the mall. The mall was overflowing, parking was full enough people were pulling up on the grass areas. We found a spot though and went in. So many people, lovely decorations and I found a few little gifts to include in a care package I’m slowly preparing for a friend and some sparkly hair clips for our granddaughter. We had lunch in our favorite spot in the mall, a German-ish restaurant with good beer and strudel.
People watching at its finest.
After eating, we took off for the grocery store for a few things and headed home rather exhausted and with full bellies.
Bring on the December madness and beauty.