Well, not mine, actually.

But it is a new wrinkle in free enterprise.

As those who know me well are aware, I have a poor reputation for punctuality.

How poor?

I have seriously considered directing that when my time comes, my casket be rolled down the aisle of the church five or 10 minutes after the designated starting time for my funeral. Why should my attendance at my final worship service be any different from all the services that preceded it?

There are those who will get up long before dawn to stand in line to buy a ticket for the performance of a popular artist, or to save a few (or a lot of) bucks at a Black Friday sale.

This can be quite effective.

I saw a TV interview of a woman on Black Friday this year who said that by standing in line all night long, she was able to buy an $8,000 TV set for $1,500. 

The interviewer didn’t ask just how big a TV set eight grand buys, or even $1,500. I can remember when a small screen color TV that got mediocre reception went for $500, but I am older than dirt.

Today, you can hide a week’s worth of dirty laundry for a family of six behind a $500 TV set.

But returning to my opening premise, week before last, as TV broadcasters looked for news on the day after Thanksgiving, they discovered that there is a new, relatively painless way to be first in line on Black Friday morning: You can hire somebody else to be there for you. That’s right: you can down a couple of Alka Seltzers after Thanksgiving dinner and settle back for a long night’s sleep, while your designated surrogate spends all day and all night in line at the big box store of your choice.

The going rate for this service is reported to be $25 per hour, though some line-sitters have been known to command up to $48.

There have been no reports of mayhem (or in the finest American tradition, litigation) over this practice.

But I’ve got to wonder how somebody who passed up Thanksgiving dinner for the privilege of standing second in line for 24 hours feels when a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed shopper shows up 10 minutes before opening time to replace a bleary-eyed college student who has been holding the first place in line while struggling to stay awake for the last 18 hours since the battery on his iPad went dead.

Back in my day, it was considered acceptable practice to allow a friend to get in the lunch line ahead of you. Then somebody came up with the concept of allowing a friend to buck the line by getting behind you.

Does anyone find a sense of injustice in this practice?

I suspect these are the same people who today pay line-sitters 25 bucks an hour to reserve their place in line.


(S. L. Frisbie is retired. He has long subscribed to the belief that if God had truly intended for mankind to enjoy the beauty of a sunrise, He would have scheduled it for sometime around 9:30 in the morning.)


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