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  1. Wealth
November 27, 2009

Black & Blue Friday

By Spear's

You’d think I’d know better at my age, but apparently hope does indeed spring eternal.

You’d think I’d know better at my age, but apparently hope does indeed spring eternal. I had my Black Friday plan all laid out, but (to steal yet another refrain) the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry.

I’d had my eye on a new laptop for some time now and when I got the email from Apple advertising their Black Friday sale I my idea took root. I knew I would stay late at my best friend’s Thanksgiving dinner that brings our families together. It wouldn’t be a stretch to stay up until midnight, hit the Apple store at 12:01 a.m. and score the sort of bargain that makes my little practical heart go pitter-pat. 

I was so clever, I thought: I arrived at the Apple store at 10:45 p.m. on Thanksgiving, scoped out the laptop I wanted, took a salesman’s card, shook his hand, and promised to return at midnight. Excited, I walked home two blocks and watched television until the time came.

Leaving my New York apartment at the appointed hour, I was rather dismayed to find that by 11:57 a huge queue had formed that already circled the block. The atmosphere was electric: tourists stopped and took photos; local residents cheered us on, shouting out their windows, while we swapped panting and-what-are-you-after anecdotes. The sophisticated Spaniard in front of me had joined the queue simply because he saw it from his Plaza Hotel room window and thought it might be fun. 

“Do you think the discounts will be worth it?” he asked skeptically.

“Oh, yes,” I gushed. “They’re bound to be.”

My enthusiasm was reinforced by a cheering contingent of red T-shirt-clad Apple employees standing at the entrance to the iconic glass cube. “Woo! Woo! Woo! Go, Apple! Yeah! Woohoo!” they shouted and the crowd filing past them joined in. 

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“I haven’t seen such excitement since my last Rolling Stones concert,” I quipped to the Spaniard, who laughed.

The glass tube elevator had been closed off for safety reasons, so what must have been a thousand people instead raced down the glass spiral staircase to quickly seize what they coveted most. 

But a strange thing happened then.

As people hit the tables containing the assortment of laptops, iPods and speakers, their excitement seemed to dissipate. I soon discovered why: the laptop I wanted was not reduced even a single dollar, and neither were the iPhones; I got about $30 off the Apple TV, and their deepest discounts were on Microsoft software. 

It was as if Apple had decided that they’re too proud to go on sale. Annoyed I could have gone to bed after all, I took my purchases to what was still an overly-long queue. Many people had clearly travelled much more than my two blocks to be there, so they were not to going home empty-handed.

What the non-sale did manage to do what separate the men from the boys: only the committed big-spenders remained, lugging boxes of computers. The dilettante kids looking to score clearance-priced iPhones and iPods left only slightly slower than they arrived, their glum faces analyzing their shoe laces.

I, on the other hand, enjoyed the quiet that descended on the store around 1 a.m. and shuffled home for a good night’s sleep, slightly disappointed, but victorious enough for pleasant dreams of my shiny new laptop.

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