I woke up early, with the summer sun prying through my eyelids and welcoming me to another sauna-like day in Osaka. Twenty-nine degrees and it wasn't even eight am yet. Fuck. My eyes reluctantly opened further, and I surveyed the room. The half empty bottle of Suntory whiskey stood like a general on the cabinet, surrounded by its beer can foot soldiers laying tragically crushed on the ground. The dull ache in my kidneys and cramps in my legs told me it would take more than a simple cleanup to rid myself of last night's mess. I couldn't afford to try and sleep it off though, today was an important day. There was a sale on, and I am a Shopping Warrior.
In November of 2005, two shoppers were injured in a massive 300 person stampede in a West-Michigan Wal-Mart. A 13-year old boy named Deja McHerron was taken to hospital after helping up a pregnant woman shoved to the ground by an aggressive mob looking to get in on a Black Friday XBox bargain.
The scene was repeated in Maryland, as a lack of security and planning caused more trampling injuries as staff desperately tried to control the surging mass of consumer frenzy at the gates. The manager of the store later said the cost of damaged goods in the mad footrace was far greater than the profit made by selling the games. A local resident said "It's a bad example. You got families out here, kids. It's sending the wrong message to people. It's not worth it."
Lastly, in Orange County, Patricia VanLester was knocked to the ground by a hoard looking to cash in on $30 DVD players. Talking to the media outside the store, her sister described the scene: "She got pushed down, and they walked over her like a herd of elephants," said VanLester's sister, Linda Ellzey. "I told them, 'Stop stepping on my sister! She's on the ground!"
What can we learn from these unfortunate examples? It is really quite simple. If you are not a TRAINED SHOPPING PROFESSIONAL, stay the fuck out of my way. These people represent the chaff in the competitive shopping world. They are the muck in your shoe tread and the 15 second clip on the nightly news. These are not the people I worry about.
This is my story, the story and advice of a seasoned veteran. No, not just seasoned. The advice of someone who has dominated crowds that number in the thousands. Someone who has stared the devil in the face over a 2.99 DVD of Pulp Fiction and refused to bl
My target for today was a local baby goods store, not far from my house. I felt like shit and I knew that I would have to be on top of my game to be successful today. Mothers with newborns represent the top of the pyramid when it comes to aggressive shopping. Their instincts are honed by heightened hormone levels and their birthing aggression clearly reasserts itself in this environment. To make matters worse, they hunt in packs of three or four, and come fully armed with strollers, baby bags, and even the squabbling brats themselves. God knows what kind of sick, twisted memories are being impressed upon the malleable mind of a child.
The product was diapers, a risky proposition. To make matters worse, there was a supply limit, only 30 boxes. With the store opening at 10am, this was clearly a lure sale to help increase the take on a Sunday near the end of the month. The manager had to make his quota after all.
As I worked the cobwebs out of my mouth with a can of wine, I went over my plans for the enth time. I knew the floor plan of the store well, having run a reconnaissance mission the other day. The layout was clean enough. A simple straight dash down two parallel aisles, designed to take shoppers to the back of the store, but also give them enough space to rip apart the packaging without damaging anything else. My strategy was to take the left route down, as human psychology has shown that humans naturally go right before they go left. If I ran into difficulty such as barriers, wet floors, or track star mothers, I also had the option of juking right and trying to cut off any problems (between boxes A, B, and C).
The other trick was to go for the back. I knew as soon as the mothers got to the pyramid, they would rip open the first boxes they found regardless of their desired size. I can only assume it is their feral nature, but it is the one thing that I can use to my advantage. With them distracted at the front, I would be able to manoeuvre around back, and find the large size which I needed to obtain.
I arrived at quarter to ten, and already there was a line. I counted back and found myself in seventh place. Depending on the product the arrival time varies, but I was happy with my position. Too far to the front and some unwieldy grandmother is likely to pop you with an umbrella enema to get into the pole position. Too far to the back, and you're simply left in the dust.
Using my height advantage I peered into the gloomy interior of the store. I couldn't make out everything, but I could see the mound of boxes at the rear, just as I had suspected. I stretched my calves a bit, surveying the competition around me. The mood of the lineup was pensive, broken only by the occasional bark of laughter from a group at the front. I examined them more closely and felt a lump form in my throat. Standing three abreast, each with a state of the art stroller, were three new obasans. New grandmothers. This was the worst possible scenario. With their daughters at home and fatigued from the long trauma of childbirth, these women in their mid-50's were determined to do well by their daughter and save 190 yen on a bag of diapers. I watched as one cracked her knuckles, and then her back, as she eyed me contemptuously. I looked nervously at my watch and saw I had about a minute left. This turn of events changed everything, and I had no time to replan.
With a whoosh the doors swept open, and the line surged like thoroughbreds out of the gate. With my size 12 boot planted firmly on the foot of my nearest competitor, I revelled in the gasp of pain as I launched to the left, determined to take what was mine. Ahead of me, it was already chaos as a mother eager to run had neglected to release the brakes of her stroller, sending both herself and her child to the linoleum. As I passed, I booted the child’s plush toy under a rack of booties, thus ending any chance of her getting back in the running.
However, my good start was halted as I saw a serious flaw in my plan. The three grandmothers had split into two groups, with two of them completely blocking the right side, and one of them swerving back and forth down the left, threatening gross bodily harm to anyone who attempted to pass her. As they reached the pile of unopened boxes, they did not stop, but simply drove into them at full speed, knocking them back and cutting off my back-door strategy. However, it did open up another path. Using my ninja-like reflexes I squeezed between two strollers and planted two quick kicks on boxes labelled "L", sending them away from the initial rush. Their contents burst open, and out came 8 bags of diapers, gleaming under the fluorescents. Like sharks smelling blood, the frenzied tearing began as the grandmothers swiped at the prize. With my momentum, I vaulted over a display table and used my right hand like a dragnet, scooping them up by the handle. Landing smoothly, I pivoted and repeated the action with my other hand, ensuring a full catch. I felt something tug at my bounty, but I responded quickly by hammering it with my knee. The yelp of pain gave me a grim satisfaction. Out of the scrum I emerged, double fisted with glory. As I slowly walked away, I could hear the primal howls that accompanied success and failure alike. Making my way up to the register, I smiled broadly at the petrified sales clerk and gave her the cash. Mission Accomplished.
7x packages of DoReMi diapers, regular 799 yen, today 590. Total savings: 1463 yen (like 12 bucks).
- Alcohol-fueled rage
These are the things that will make you a successful Shopping Warrior. Do not be ashamed if you are not up to the task, only a select few are. If you are though, heed my words, I show no mercy to anyone.