Black Friday — the time of year when even the most sophisticated stores are redesigned by former window shoppers to match the aesthetic feel of a flea market.

Five weeks prior to the day, the countdown begins. Calls are made daily to sales associates to ask not if, but when, we are free to work the notorious weekend. During this time, the excuse of ‘focusing on school’ is a luxury reserved for the lionhearted — those associates who, in the weeks leading up to the big day, can withstand the relentless pleas of stressed and understaffed managers.

I am not lionhearted.

Still, for the sake of my sanity, I try to limit the proportion of my shift spent dealing with customers. Last year, that meant working from 5:00–10:00 am so that by the time that we opened for business, I only had an hour left of work. This year, I worked from 5:00 pm to 1:00 am — less of a treat, since we don’t close up shop until 9:30 pm. Fortunately though, that meant that a decent portion of my shift was spent peacefully rearranging the store in the wake of the consumer hurricane that had swept through the store throughout the day to the calming tunes of Lorde’s Pure Heroine.

No purchases for me.

The “DOOR BUSTING SALE!” the store had offered was the employee discount I normally get, with the only difference being that any purchase I would make on this day would come with a complimentary 30-minute line-up paired with claustrophobia.  

The real disappointment: I didn’t even get to enjoy the mall food, my habitual break-time treat. Much like the rest of the CF Toronto Eaton Centre, the Urban Eatery — my third home — was infested with eager yet slow-walking shoppers who don’t have their orders memorized and also like to kick off their lunches with a million samples. Meanwhile, the decisive ones among us watch from the back of the line, frustrated.

No, thank you, I’ll settle for a chocolate bar from Shoppers and a cigarette.

Still, I can’t deny that there is a part of me that loves Black Friday. It’s a joy to hustle with my retail family, bringing good cheer to eager shoppers who probably care about material possessions more than they should.  

We’ll save that discussion for New Year’s resolutions. Just kidding; see you next year.