Like most Americans, I watched in horror as paramedics worked feverishly to save a man trampled by shoppers in a Long Island Wal-Mart.
According to reporters, hoards of -- I don't even know what to call them-- stormed the store, knocked down a worker and crushed him to death in their quest for cut-rate items. It was barbaric and brutal and I hope those responsible are punished to the fullest extent of the law.
But at the same time, I can't help but wonder if the stores and the retail industry as a whole bear some of the responsibility.
Every year, we are treated to these one-hour, door-busting sales that are only available on Black Friday. Stores have encouraged the greedy mobs of people to camp outside, sometimes days in advance for an I-Pod, I-Phone, Tickle-me Elmo and this year, a flat-screen television. We are told that we will never get those items at those prices unless we sleep in the cold and are among the first ones inside. And the press (myself included) are there front and center to cover this mess.
I'm old enough to remember the year of the Cabbage Patch Doll and the mad dash to get one. My sister wanted a doll, but neither my father or my mother would brave the angry crowds to get her one. I vividly recall seeing news footage of an employee in a toy store climb atop a shelf and throw the remaining supply of dolls to the angry, violent crowd below.
I've shopped in stores all over the world at all times of the year and yes, I've been jostled and shoved in pursuit of clothes and electronics. Anyone who has been to Macy's in New York's Herald Square or Filene's Basement in Boston can relate. But it seems to me that this "get it and get it now by any means neccessary mentality" has become more prevalent. Even potential brides are willing to scratch each others eyes out over a discount wedding dress.
Perhaps this tragedy in Long Island will give the retailers pause to consider how their market their goods to the public.