Co-Op Casual Fridays is usually a fairly relaxed column. After all, we're talking about games that appeal to young players, and even non-gamers, like LEGO Star Wars. Cute and enjoyable is what we do, here. Today, though, we change directions, and I'll share with you a harrowing tale of death-defying, madness-inducing consumerism at it's very worst: attempting to buy the AC/DC Rock Band Track Pack. On the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, 2008. At a Wal-mart Supercenter. At 4:30 in the morning!
My wife and I are Black Friday veterans, for about 10 years now. Every year, I tell myself I won't go back out early on Black Friday ever again. As the day approached in 2008, I said I'd go out, but not go to Wal-Mart, still reeling from the "Great Transformers Incident of 2007". (Trust me, you don't want the details.) As always, my bargain sense won out, and we did go out after all. The AC/DC Rock Band Track Pack had recently been released, and there was a bundle in the Wal-mart ad that included the game, a concert DVD, and a sweet AC/DC T-Shirt that I knew my oldest son would love. Deep in the back of my mind, I knew it was a bad idea, but we woke up at 3:30, stopped for tea and coffee, and headed to a Wal-mart Supercenter we'd had success with before.
Most years, this particular Wal-Mart was fairly organized, at least as far as employees go; it's usually the other shoppers you have to worry about. Not so this year. Apparently, for the biggest shopping day of the year, the manager forgot to have a meeting to go over anything with his workers. Here's a short list of "/facepalm moments" we suffered due to the incompetency on display by Wal-Mart employees that day.
As soon as we walked in, we asked a checkout clerk where the store maps were, since all the Black Friday deals are typically in weird places, i.e. DVDs in the frozen goods and kids' pajamas in the automotive department. The clerk told me she hadn't seen them but knew they were out there somewhere. How incredibly useful! It turned out a lady standing about 10 feet from said cashier was handing out the maps. /facepalm #1.
When 5 AM finally hit, I was waiting in the line for electronics, as I wanted to pick up some cheap Blu-rays in addition to the AC/DC pack. I had waited in this line for about 45 minutes, yet I could have just picked up the Blu-rays earlier, because the line I was waiting in was for "behind the counter" items, which to me, as a former bookstore employee means, Playboy or Penthouse. I walked around, fighting old ladies in sweatpants, hunting for the Blu-rays, when a fellow shopper states that the regular items off the shelf aren't the ones on sale, and you have to locate the proper display shelf with the Black Friday deals. It seemed odd, but an employee verified it, so I put my catch back on the shelves and went off in search of the land of discounted Blu-rays.
On the way, I asked the first employee under the age of 40 I saw where the discounted Blu-rays are. "Blu-rays?" she said, deer-in-headlights style. "I don't know what that is." /facepalm #2. High def movies, I inform her, and upon hearing the word "movies" she directs me to the grocery aisles. Remember what I said earlier, about DVDs in the frozen foods? Yup, it was all DVDs, no Blu-rays to be found. I'm pretty upset at this point, as I've been wandering around for 30 minutes and all I have is a copy of Spaceballs on DVD for $2 that I grabbed more out of spite than anything.