Saturday, November 29, 2008

Shopping with the mob

On a small scale, we may all be as unique as fingerprints and snowflakes, but those differences don't matter too much when we're packed into a snowball. Nothing good ever comes from a mob of people, where our individuality and dignity are shed like snakeskin.

I'm referring, of course, to the recent trampling of a New York Wal-Mart employee. I'm sure many of us have been on the receiving end of such a mob, desperately seeking to save a few dollars on the most frenzied, chaotic shopping day of the year. When I worked at Best Buy, I always felt a combined sense of dread and adrenaline when the doors opened. Without too much hyperbole, it reminded me of the running of the bulls, or, at the very least, a stampede. People, who might otherwise be normal and decent, are suddenly raging lunatics, grabbing things from the hands of others, getting into shouting matches and generally setting the human race back a few centuries. There was another pair of deaths in Los Angeles where two men were shot to death - apparently this one was not shopping related, but I'm sure that the festive spirit didn't help.

But imagine the scene - the crowd of people were pushing so hard to get into the store which hadn't even opened yet that they pushed the doors off and onto an employee. They then rushed in and trampled the poor man, oblivious (I hope) to the fact that he was dead or dying. They even pushed past policemen who were trying to perform CPR. So here's the thing: a death is a death, and I'm sure that the family of the dead man is pretty broken up about it, but the man himself is fine now. He's in a better place. Although I don't believe in heaven or hell, I do believe that just about anywhere is better than Wal-Mart at Christmastime. But imagine the shoppers. There were a lot of them. In a mob, no one is explicitly guilty, but no one is innocent. And that's a lot of guilty consciences. Imagine trying to be happy about saving 10% on shower curtains and dog food, only to find out that your lust for low, low prices was directly the cause of death for someone. Merry Christmas, fuckers! Have fun living with that one!

I've never been a part of a mob. I don't say that with false modesty - I've just never been around one when forming. But, as I said, nothing good ever comes from mobs. Mobs of people can do things that are unthinkable for individuals. I can't think of a religious parallel, but I'm sure there is one. Oh wait...

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