Although this has very little to do with the education world, it is something I have been thinking about since it happened on Black Friday morning (wow, that name sounds way more ominous now!). I still can’t believe someone could have been trampled to death by a crowd of shoppers…not badly injured, or sort of shaken, but dead. I’m pretty sure he was not thinking that his last minutes of life would be spent underneath the feet of thousands of shoppers at his friendly local Walmart on his early morning work shift.
I should admit beforehand that I have been amongst those standing in line in front of a store before it has officially opened. It wasn’t for a whole day or anything like that, it was more like 15 minutes, and I was way in the back of the line. I also wasn’t clamoring to buy a flat screen t.v. or video gaming system, I was hoping instead to get the last season of the West Wing on DVD for under $15. But there is very little difference; I can’t say that I haven’t been, at one point, one of those shoppers up at the wee hours of the morning for a bargain.
Maybe it is because I have been there myself that an event like this does amaze me. It’s almost like those school shootings that seem to come out of nowhere. When something like that happens my first instinct is to question humanity itself, not just that small group of people who happened to be there. Have we all gone mad! is actually my first official thought. Is this out of the ordinary for us, or is it similar to something else I’ve seen? I have been to rock concerts where I thought I was on the edge of being smooshed of all oxygen. But that’s part of the experience of rock concerts, it doesn’t particularly seem out of the ordinary there. And mob crowds are not particularly extraordinary either. There is definitely a scene in Twain’s Huckleberry Finn where he satirizes what the mob crowd is capable of doing.
What’s more frightening than the actual death, if that’s possible, is what happened afterwords. From what I understand of the incident, the store made an announcement, once the emt pronounced the employee dead, that they were closing their doors. Instead of being shocked, stopping what they were doing, hanging their heads and quietly leaving. Some people were outraged that they couldn’t finish their shopping! That’s the scary part of this whole thing. Shopping, for at least some people there, was officially more important than a human life. A flat-screen t.v. was officially more important than a human life. If that’s not a sign of how incredibly insane human beings can sometimes be or become, I don’t know what is.
If those are the lengths people will go to for a want, what in the world will happen when it’s needs we’re all clamoring to get?