At just 34 years old, Jdimytai Damour tragically lost his life to an act of senseless violence in 2008. That senseless violence wasn’t due to a mugging or intentionally violent crime directed at him.
He lost his life to a crowd of over-eager shoppers at a Wal-Mart who trampled him to death. He lost his life because he happened to be the worker at the store that opened the doors.
That incident exposes a clear problem of how Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when companies have sales and deals to kick off the holiday season of shopping, has become a major safety risk to all those involved.
Black Friday violence already existed with numerous stories across the country every year describing shoppers fighting amongst each other for an item or starting altercations with staff at a store.
But the knowledge that someone had lost their life to the frenzy surrounding the day brought into question how Black Friday is handled. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration put out guidelines to retailers this year on how to properly handle those crowds to minimize the risk of injury to both staff and consumers.
Yet while businesses prepare themselves to handle these crowds, we can’t lose sight of the other half of this equation of deal-seeking violence: ourselves as consumers.
The eagerness with which we seek these deals on Black Friday must be tempered by the responsibility we have to do so in a way that doesn’t involve violence.
The frenzy around Black Friday does encourage such behavior and retailers who don’t adequately prepare their stores do bear some of the blame.
But ultimately we choose to act on the impulses we have when seeing someone about to grab the last box of a toy we are trying to buy at 50 percent off. We are the ones who make a conscious choice to begin an argument that could involve starting a fight with a random stranger over that toy.
Scenarios like this take place across the country every Black Friday. With the state of the economy and the financial struggles so many families have going into this holiday season, there are reasons to be even more concerned.
The desire to take advantage of bargains can be a driving force for these acts of violence, but when people are faced with a need to take advantage of such deals because of financial struggles, it only presents more reasons to be aggressive on Black Friday.
Retailers and staff will hopefully do their best to prepare themselves to handle the crowds, but we as consumers must be willing to listen to directions and act like civilized people if any of those precautions and guidelines are going to have any effect.
Ultimately we hold the responsibility to shop in a way that does not create a violent situation for others and for ourselves. The deals we see on Black Friday may only last a few days but the repercussions of actions taken that day could cause injuries that linger for years or worse.
Do not lose sight of the fact that there is a day after Black Friday for every person who participates, whether it is staff or fellow shoppers. Because of the actions of consumers eager to take advantage of a few deals, Jdimytai Damour never got to see that day.
No deal is worth that price.
This entry was published in The Pioneer Online on Thursday, November 17th, 2011 at 1:26 pm.