It's about 11pm, Thanksgiving Day evening.
I've just returned from dropping my wife ("the pussycat") off at work.
Since we moved away from "real" civilization, the only employment that she's been able to find is in retail-hell (aside from the ass-backwards; "this is how we've done things for years - even though it's the wrong way and doesn't really work" office position or two).
While her most recent place of employment (I won't give the name of it, in case they come under fire here at a later date) is, at least tolerable.
The people she works with are all nice, the atmosphere is pleasant, and the clientele (for the most part) are less "shopper-crazy" than what one usually encounters in the retail world.
Still, it's the Thanksgiving-time shopper's blitz season, and she was half-drafted / half-volunteered for the "MIDNIGHT MADNESS" sale.
As it's name would aptly describe, it's for the maniacs who have a burning desire to shrug off a heavy Thanksgiving meal and stand out in the cold late at night, waiting for the doors of the shoppes to open at (say it with me now) MIDNIGHT!
Then they shop and shop and shop until the wee hours of the morning.
Literally, until they drop.
The only reason that "the pussycat" opted for the overnight sale is because she worked "Black Friday" last year and swore that she'd never do so again.
This evening's adventure wasn't as simple as just my driving her to work, dropping her off and returning home.
The whole reason that I was driving her, instead of her driving herself, was twofold:
1) at that late hour - and with ice and snow on the road - she loathes driving in the dark.
Deer and other wild critters jump out onto the roadway (like a real-life game of "frogger") and she has a touch of "night-blindness", making the circumnavigating a bit harder on her.
2) due to the awaiting throngs of shoppers, all store employees are expected to drive a few miles further away from the shopping center, to a municipal parking lot, where they then stand out in the dark and cold waiting for the shopping center's sponsored shuttle-bus (a repurposed old school-bus) to pick them up and ferry them to a drop-off point (that is NO WHERE NEAR her store) and then they have to walk (again, alone in a darkened parking lot) to their stores, in the cold.
Then, in the early morning hours, after a grueling shift, they'd have to repeat the procedure (in reverse) to get back to their cars and head for home.
Yeah. Not gonna happen, if I can help it.
So, we packed up our littlest cat; Spanky (whose adventures I've detailed in many of the early posts on this blog) in a carrier, bundle it up with blankets and went out into the chill night air.
Upon arriving at her shopping center (I guess I can say where THAT is; the "Crossings Premium Outlets" in the Pocono's) we were only mildly surprised that the parking lot was jam packed with sale-hunting loons.
I'm sorry. I just don't get it.
Maybe it would be different with the current economic crisis, if all of these people were just there because they wanted to find gifts and whatnot at a sharply discounted price due to the financial crunch, but we all know that these people would be there no matter what the scenario.
There was a LINE AROUND THE BUILDING at the "COACH" bag shoppe.
As I understand it, those are insanely overpriced handbags. Even with a steep discount (although, I don't know what the price cut was) they're STILL overpriced handbags!
My mind - it boggles.
And luckily, my wife feels the same way that I do.
That money would be better spent on ANYthing else than a status symbol to show other shallow people how "exclusive" you are.
Anyway, to make matters worse, the mall have security personnel blocking the parking areas behind the stores (making sure that no employees try to park there) only removing the barricades at midnight (because, by then all the workers would already be in their stores). This irked me, as an "imaginary shopper" because what if I was there to shop?
The main lots are jam packed! So I'd have to park at the ass-end of creation and hike all the way back to the mall, instead of just being able to park in one of the many nearby, but verboten, spots, to which the latecomers will be given access? As a shopper that would cheese me off.
But, since I'm not here to argue the merits of (mis)management thought processes, I'll get back to my tale.
We were lucky enough to have found a spot fairly close to her building, and disembarked with Spanky in tow.
The crisp night air making the white lights of the Christmas (and other religious, ethnic and multi-purpose) displays glint ever the more dazzlingly. Spanky seemed genuinely interested in the multitudes of people all scurrying to and fro to jockey for position in the many lines outside storefronts.
I only stepped into the shoppe for a moment to wish her well, and to show off Spanky to her manager, who is an animal lover and who had heard much of the saga of our many "children".
Suffice it to say, he was his usual adorable self, garnered ooh's and ahh's and then I headed out, back to the car with Spanks and headed for home.
Normally, Spanky enjoys car rides.
With all of the many journeys we've taken together, to vets near and far, he just chills out and looks out the screening of his carrier to the outside world as it flits by the windows - or to me as I return his loving gaze.
At night, however, since he couldn't easily see anything (or at least I couldn't - I know that cat's are supposed to have super-vision at night) he was less amiable than usual and caterwauled for much of the trip.
Still, we made it back without incident, and I am now watching over the menagerie before trying to figure out how to best approach the night's sleep rotation.
I may have a snack before bed, however.
We didn't have a big "Thanksgiving" dinner.
With my wife's schedule at work the past few days (many hours of overtime) working all day yesterday, the over-night tonight, and then again mid-day tomorrow, she was in no place for cooking (and won't let me near the kitchen - which is probably for the best). We had a simple "normal" meal (Salisbury steaks, veggies, jellied cranberry sauce and instant mashed potatoes - with some sweet-potato pie) alone together, which was sufficient.
We both knew that as crazy and as bad as things have been as of late... there are MANY people in the world (be it in far away lands, or in our own neighborhoods) who have it far, far worse.
We have each other, our crazy "kids", our friends and families (as frustrating as they can sometimes be - for any number of reasons) and a roof over our heads (that we were smart enough to NOT go for anything out of our price-range)... and for that, we ARE Thankful.