by George Thomas
I never took part in a Black Friday
because I was your fetcher of flat-screen
television sets and
microwaves with that pull-out
drawer for frozen pizza and
all of those pineapple corers
of which they bought three
for, as a gift,
they feigned thoughtfulness for out-of-state
second cousins who visit once every other
Christmas. Great for cousin Beckys who ceased
posting Facebook pics of her handling beer bottles
after bearing her first kid — and now she only
posts photos handling him, whom she named Guinness.
I would arrive at midnight and work out of a
parked semi trailer, frantically lobbing appliances
to my coworkers like a preacher tossing turkeys to the poor.
The police barricaded the entrance,
politely shooing shoppers back until our
official 2AM opening, saving their clubs for
the Septembers of Capitalism. And they stayed to
barricade the exits when a customer was
stabbed in the gut, officers searching
for the shopper with the most blood on their handbag.
Management hid in their offices, but set cookies
under the time-clock to discourage us from taking a lunch.
Customers entered the stock room and helped themselves
when the four of us couldn’t fulfill the orders of a
hundred and forty of them.
At 5:33AM I asked myself, “Who buys a dishwasher
the day after Thanksgiving?”
When my shift ended at noon, I was relieved into
the plastic atmosphere, clothing department signs
swaying, wafting perfume samples in the heat
of a thousand bodies working off the pilgrim’s
plate under florescent lamps accentuating
the glaring whiteness of our pseudo-holiday.
I sighed, and drove to my second job, where I cleaned up
the mess left by their own pre-dawn stampede.
I’m enamored with one-click orders on credit
coming to my doorstep the next day.
I don’t even have to wear pants, although
it’s wise to buy a few before the deal expires.
For thirty hours I celebrated, buying everything
cheap and useless that I couldn’t afford but promised
to pay off months from now.
— I bought a pineapple corer for Chrissakes
when I had already received one two Christmases ago —
But the deal was so alluring.
On the third day I got my final boxes,
tattooed with Amazon’s ubiquitous grinning arrow,
and they appeared on my porch like gifts from
a downloadable Santa who presents himself in the
likeness of my avatar, and delivers my presents
by way of a brown sleigh, 160 reindeer power,
operating by way of a strict timetable across the Earth.
Yet I do wonder what the air smells like
inside an Amazon Fulfillment Center.