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Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Grim Roulette

On this, the most beloved of holidays, I would like to wish a happy Thanksgiving to those intrepid souls embodying those most American of American values: those people who have been camping out since at least yesterday afternoon in front of Best Buy.

I counted five tents yesterday.

Let's do some back-of-the-envelope math.  There are about 1,100 Best Buy stores in the US.  I live in a California Bay Area town about 20 miles north of Oakland--in other words, a well-populated area, but not a major Metropolis--so let's assume that "my" Best Buy represents an "average" store: This would mean that, across the country, some 5,000 people are celebrating Thanksgiving by bivouacking in parking lots.  And of course this considers only Best Buy.  Throw in all the Wal-Marts (nearly 4,000 US stores), Targets (1,700), and K-Marts (about 1,200), and assume similarly zealous consumers, and we can add another 35,000 folks sleeping out across the country.  Let's toss in another 10,000 people at various smaller venues, and we can not-unreasonably project that around 50,000 people are currently camped out, awaiting the start of spectacular "door-buster" sales.

50,000 people, OK?

Now, as a matter of probability, it is not unreasonable to assume that at least one of these 50,000 people will be dead within a week.  Understand, I am not wishing death on these folks: That would be redundant.  Nevertheless, assuming that at least one of these people will die, and even assuming that this one person began camping out "only" 24 hours before the start of sales, then this person will have willingly spent 24 of his or her final 168 hours on this planet waiting in line for the privilege of further enriching multi-millionaires.

So Happy Thanksgiving, stalwart consumers!  You're wasting your life.

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