Black Friday has long been a paradoxical time of the year, with packs of deal-hungry shoppers swarming superstores immediately after the holiday during which they celebrated gratitude. The leftover Thanksgiving turkey is still warm in its Tupperware while thousands of people are lined up by Target, Walmart and Kohl's, camping out for the night in order to get the deal they found advertised in yesterday's newspaper.
The craziness doesn't end there, however. Not only will shoppers go to such great lengths for their new plasma TV or that laptop Johnny needs for college, there are also outrageous stories, pictures and videos from Black Friday sprees that are downright unbelievable. Every year someone is trampled to death when the doors are opened, like Mufasa under the hooves of the wildebeests in The Lion King. Fights break out, workers are besieged by customers, tug-of-war matches for a hot item erupt. It all seems like some dystopian future where a reality star can be president and the Cubs can win a World Series...
Oh. Right. Well, here are fifteen insane pictures of Black Friday shoppers. Some of these stories are humorous, but some are downright chilling. Stay safe out there on November 25th, folks.
15 Chill AF
This is a woman whose attitude toward Black Friday we can get behind. Who knows why she decided to plop in a box of bathroom mats in the middle of the home deco section, but we're glad she did. We have a few guesses as to what she's doing: Either she is plotting her next strategy for attacking the sales in the appliances section, resenting a family member that dragged her along on this shopping trip, or taking a semi-inconspicuous squat since the bathrooms were pretty full of other early morning shoppers.
But based on the rest of the shoppers on her list, maybe she's just avoiding the carnage and drama that seems dragged along to every Walmart and superstore on these fateful annual Friday excursions.
14 The Football Front Line
Here begins an exception to our "Walmart" label. This pic was snapped in an Asda (which you'll see again later, too), and it features a scene all too familiar to many a Black Friday frequenter: the football front line. Though reminiscent of a close relative, the football huddle, this picture hardly contains the show of friendly camaraderie a huddle represents, as everyone in this photo seems ready to tackle one another, except for a few smirking lurkers in the back.
The red-haired woman in the back seems especially aggressive, trying to get her hands on two previously claimed TVs at once. It's classic Black Friday: what's not purchased is still up for grabs, no matter whose cart it occupies.
13 Pay and Spray
You'll see a number of defense strategies in this list, all designed for one purpose: making sure no one else gets what you want. Sometimes it comes down to keep away and tug-of-war, but occasionally much more severe violence, involving guns, knives, or in this case, pepper spray. The photo is of a man recovering from the effects of a pepper spray attack by another woman, who went to drastic measures to ensure she got what she wanted. And she wanted video games. Pretty badly, apparently. While numerous reports of this incident have been documented from the 2011 incident, photos of the actual spray scare are scarce, and understandably so. We would have been covering our eyes instead of pulling our phones out, too.
Ten people were treated for the spray attack, and remarkably, the woman turned herself in later that same day. We could chalk the pepper spray up to reacting to the heat of the moment, but it hardly seems a valid excuse to cause so many people such excruciating pain.
12 The TV Tussle
A partner photo to our number fourteen on the list, this was taken at another Asda in London. It's unclear whether this is one family staking out a single television, or an uneven tug-of-war match for the last box. And it begs the question that we'll ask again and again throughout this list: Why is it always a TV? Are they the deals everyone guns for, or just the ones that get photographed?
Not even recognizing the papers and magazines they're knocking over, the trio plows past onlookers, with apparently zero self-consciousness. Sometimes you just gotta have a new TV set, I guess. We hope it was worth the spectacle it caused.
11 Mufasa and the Wildebeests
Well, you knew it was coming. Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the reports of entrance stampedes in every corner of Black Friday country arrive in the newspaper or news shows. Like we said before, images like the one above can't help but stir memories of Mufasa slipping under the hooves of the charging horde in the saddest movie of 1994, only these tramplers don't have the excuse of being mindless animals. Black Friday stampedes occasionally are fatal too, adding a note that rings too true to our previous illustration.
This is a rare photo in that we see not one, not two, but three victims of the charging shoppers. It just makes us want to scream. The sales can wait, people. You're better than Scar's dimwitted mob of minions. We hope.
10 Nala and the Wildebeests?
Now, it's crazy that anyone gets trampled when waiting in line for the newest Call of Duty or the hottest tablet on the market. We know that. But it's especially crazy when it's a kid who's the victim. And that's what happened to the teenage girl pictured above, who was smashed by greedy feet just inside a Walmart in Michigan.
This happened in 2011, a year known in some years to be the height of Black Friday violence. While the girl involved in this story was rumored to be shot or stabbed as well, it ended up just being a human stampede. Now just imagine if it hadn't been Mufasa that had drawn the short end of the wildebeest mob straw, but poor little Nala. These are crazy times, people. Crazy times.
9 Alabama Takedown
Without much context, this scene of an Alabama man is absolutely absurd. What was he working so hard to get that he had to be physically manhandled to be restrained? Why is the security guard performing some mutation of Tim Tebow's signature posture? The crowd of onlookers adds some humor to the shot, too. While seemingly interested, are they really just waiting for him to be moved so they can get to those new fondue pots that were advertised in Sunday's paper?
Three cheers for security guards and law enforcers who have to file reports of the most bizarre kind on Black Friday. Based on previous posts about absurd Walmart shoppers, we know the cashiers at Walmart already have to deal with some crazy stuff, so we can only begin to speculate on how tough the customers that have to be dealt with by security officials are.
8 Ms. Depends
As crazy as it is to wear a diaper to the grocery store, it does take a bit of genius. As well as experience. What happened to this woman a year ago that made her think, "Oh, better not forget my adult diaper that fits outside of my pants" this time? If she does end up - ehrm - "making use" of her absorbent outfit, maybe the smell will keep the other customers away. Works better than pepper spray, we've heard. And less illegal. Probably.
Miss Depends was spotted in Missouri, presumably on her way to the bathroom supply aisle. She is rolling without a cart, so maybe the diaper is just an all-around fanny pack for storing those half-price DVDs and barely discounted iPods. Diaper lady, we are simultaneously awed and disgusted by your commitment to the Black Friday shopping experience. Best of luck this year.
7 Stabbing on Aisle 9
This photo clearly doesn't come from inside a Walmart. But it is a result of what happened at one. In Virginia, the two men pictured above got into a fight involving a parking spot outside of a good old Wally World. Ronnie Sharp (on the right) stabbed Christopher Jackson, cutting all the way to the bone with the knife, and threatened him with a gun. While Sharp was arrested on the obvious charges of wounding Jackson and brandishing his weapon, Jackson, however, didn't get off scot-free either, as he was charged with assault and disorderly conduct. Clearly there was some rough behavior on both sides.
We're sure that parking is an absolute nightmare on Black Friday, but there is no excuse for this type of behavior from adults. Grow up, park next door at the Steak and Shake, and leave the knives and guns at home, gentlemen.
6 Robbed, Shot, Abandoned
Why is it always the telly? This photo is taken after another horrible incident that occurred in 2009. After buying a TV, an old man was shot in the stomach and robbed. The 64-year-old didn't die (thankfully), but the three men who had accosted him escaped. If that's not crazy enough already, the flat screen they almost killed a man for didn't even fit in their car, so they just left it and drove off.
This photo wasn't taken at a Walmart, but it was taken in Queens, New York, and it still makes it on our list for showing how the worst in people can come out when some Black Friday deals are involved, even near the happiest holidays of the year.
5 Entryway Raid
This shot, taken from a video at what's believed to be a Best Buy in Puerto Rico, shows customers pouring out of a barely opened door, scrabbling past customer service representatives' legs on their hands and knees, not even noticing the door that's trying to be shut on their heads. The video ends with the workers actually stepping on the door to close it, forcing the impatient customers to wait a little longer. Already ten or twenty greedy deal-finders had gotten past them, though.
As is pattern for these ridiculous stories, once again commitment for the promised sales trumps any concern over store regulations or workers' needs. People become objects, or worse, obstacles, that need to be passed by in order to achieve the greater goal, the purchase.
4 Shop-a-Bye, Baby
Look close. Closer. And... see it? Yep, that's a baby down there, underneath the tricycle and vacuum cleaner balanced precariously on a wheeled shopping cart. And from experience we know that literally no Walmart cart has four correctly operating wheels, so this seems to be an inevitable disaster. This is downright scary and while we hope the baby was safe for the entire trip, we also hope the parents were able to do some self-reflection about priorities when they unpacked their cart and found their apparently forgotten baby at the bottom of this consumerist heap.
We know, we know, it's easy to pass judgment, especially on a job as tough as parenting. But let's get real. Find a way to keep the kid out of the mess of Black Friday, or stay home with the poor thing.
3 Toy Story Shooting
One of the most infamous, outrageous, and heart-wrenching stories of Black Friday violence happened at the most innocuous of locations: the beloved toy store Toys R Us. While it happened way back in 2008, the story still haunts today. Most strangely, and despite the fact that it happened inside the store, is the fact that the men weren't in a dispute over a sale or a purchase. According to reports, the women the men were with got in a fight, resulting in one man showing the other he had a gun, later firing, and the other looking to bolt. With exits blocked by throngs of now terrified shoppers, and a dead end in the aisle he looked to escape down, both men shot at each other, and both were killed. Remarkably, no one else was hit by a bullet.
More than being a condemnation of Black Friday, this story is more frightening because it shows that two guys just happened to bring loaded guns to the same store at the same time. While it would be easy to tag this with a cute line of 'Toys R Busted' or some such catchy snippet and move on, it's hard to forget this terrifying account.
2 Another TV Renegade
While normally the assumption is that Americans are the most insane consumerists out there, this photo is from the other side of the pond. Though Asda, the supermarket this photo was taken at, only meant to export the idea of Black Friday sales from the US, they also got the Black Friday crazy. According to reports, the man wasn't allowed to buy the two TVs he wanted, and things turned violent when the phone he was filming the exchange with was knocked out of his hand.
While it's quite embarrassing to be physically restrained for wanting too many TVs, it's equally embarrassing to physically restrain someone from buying too many TVs. At least Americans can rest easy knowing that they're infiltrating the international community with pointless traditions.
1 Wally's World
It may be hard to tell in this photo, but that woman on the ground? Yeah, she's giving birth. Apparently, babies are supposed to wait on sales to pass to crown. It's hard to say what's most amazing in this photo, though - the fact that the mother tried to march through the hundreds of other people at the superstore to get the best deals while nearing her due date (maybe she was headed for the stroller aisle), or the quantity of Black Friday shoppers who stopped to help her, especially amidst the self-centeredness and downright maliciousness we've seen in the list previously. Human kindness beats saving thirty bucks on a speaker system? That deserves a top spot on our list.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of this photograph is the story of the baby's name. Reportedly, he was called Wally, and will have a terrific story to tell on all of his future birthdays.