Saturday, March 1, 2008

the apocalypse

I've voluntarily shopped on Black Friday at 6:30 am. I've braved the mall the morning of December 26th. I've even volunteered at Food Pantry Thanksgiving Basket distribution. But nothing...nothing....could prepare me for Junior League Bargain Blitz this morning.

My shift was to begin promptly at 8 am, so I peeled myself out of bed at about 7:40, threw on my red JL shirt, and drove to the community center. I should've been prepared when I saw the line of salivating scavengers stretched down the sidewalk, to the street, and halfway through the enormous parking lot - itching for the doors to open. But somehow I didn't fully grasp what was in store. I entered through the loading dock, put on my beautiful red Bargain Blitz smock, and awaited instruction. I was told that I would be a "floater". Gross name, but apparently a coveted job. All I was supposed to do was wander around and pick up items that had fallen on the floor, rehang clothes, clean up spills or broken glass. Fine. Sounds lovely.

So off I went to the middle of the clothing section and waited. Suddenly I heard a JL lady yell, "The doors are open!" It was the tone of her voice that worried me. It was less an informative statement, and more as if she were warning us of the impending apocalypse. Then there was a rumble...the ground began to vibrate...and through the double doors came a tsunami of half-crazed bargain hunters. It was like watching a stampede of spooked cattle. Women in their sixties were running over small children to stake their claim on a crappy "Hoppy Easter" wall hanging in Seasonal that cost 75 cents. A band of old women on Rascals busted through the Housewares like the Hell's Angels, tossing random knick-knacks in their baskets and knocking down everything in their path. Two granola hippies in Crocs were playing tug-of-war with a Tae-Bo video. I dove under the table, curled up into a ball, and began rocking back and forth with my eyes closed trying to find my happy place.

It wasn't long until one of the Blitz committee members found me and asked me to help in check out. Reluctantly, I left my post and bear-crawled my way to the check out area. I was immediately flagged down by the lady holding down the line to check out. And by "line" I mean rabid mob. "Can you hold the line while I go take some pictures?" she asked sweetly. I told her I was not the best choice for crowd control; I was much better at taking pictures. I was serious. She just laughed. *Disclaimer: for those who don't know me, I am 5'4", about 125 lbs., and physically can't raise my voice above a murmur. I am about as intimidating as a girl scout.

So there I was, trying to herd the mob one person at a time to each of the five check out lines in an orderly, non-violent fashion. The check out girls watched in horror as the mob began to crowd me and pull me under, like Jaws. One lumbering boob was apparently standing behind me as I tried to determine who was next and finally craned his ugly mug over my head to make me aware of his presence. I said, "I'm sorry sir, but there are a lot of people here. I can't tell what order you're in if you're behind me." He and his wife complained to one of the overwhelmed committee members that I was rude to them. They seemed to care tremendously. Firing me from Junior League was moved to the top of their priority list right above cleaning up the pool of blood, teeth, and cheap hair extensions in Childrens' Toys. Morons.

Anycrap, about 11:30, I directed the last person to the last cashier. It was over. I survived. The cashiers and I looked at each other and laughed. "It's never been that bad before!" they all said. I'm just lucky I guess. It was then that I realized: that lady ditched me! Taking pictures...whatever. She's officially on my list.

So this is what I learned today: Bargain Blitz will never be my placement, I will never be coerced to do crowd control again, and next year I'm bringing a taser.


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