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Monday, November 28, 2005

Black Friday: The Funniest Shopping Day of the Year

Do you know why the Friday after Thanksgiving is called "Black" Friday?

No. Unlike "Black Monday," so-named because it brought the loss of great amounts of wealth in October of 1929 and 1987, Black Friday is supposed to carry with it a positive connotation. It is the first day of the year most retailers begin to see a profit-- they are no longer running in the red, but are now running in the black.

Positive, you say? Black Friday is positive??

What about the traffic, the long-lines, the impossible lack of parking, the angry shoppers, and the good deals gone bad?

True. True.

But if you could just step back from the melee of the moment and watch what is going on around you, the day would take on a whole new meaning.

Especially if you revel in the misery of others.

For three years I was the one behind the register when you brave souls left the safety of your couches to score a few Doorbuster items.

Last year I took a break on Black Friday and stayed home.

This past Friday I was up, bright and early, ready to conquer all retail. "I'll be a pro," I thought to myself. After my retail experience, I know what to expect. Piece of cake.

But now I know the truth: there is safety behind the register; if you aren't wearing a nametag, you are fair game.

I wanted one of the $20 1:10 scale RC Hummers Wal-Mart had advertised for sale Friday morning. (The past 2 Christmases I have reverted to asking for toys I never got as a child).

Knowing how stores are likely to purchase a limited supply of an item and sale it for ridiculously low prices in order to lure you in the door, I wanted to make sure I grabbed mine early. The sale started at 5:00 a.m. So I was up and ready at 4:15 a.m.

A couple days before I'd gone by this Wal-Mart to buy a couple items and I scouted out the toy/electronics department. They were right next to each other. Not a good sign.

When I arrived at 4:30, the parking lot was already half-full. Upon entering, however, the front of the store was eerily calm. I beat a hasty path in the direction of the toys. Half-way to the back of the store my nightmare began.

I was ducking and weaving in and out of aisles and pallets full of cheap crap left as obstacles to speedy shoppers. When I arrived in my desired department, I was stopped cold. The line of people clogging the aisles extended beyond my line-of-sight. And it was only 4:40.

After 5 minutes of skillful approach, I found myself in the toys. But there were no $20 RC cars to be found. Fortunately, there were plenty of employees and I was able to ask for directions. "The $20 Hummers?" (Only in Wal-Mart.) "They are in the main aisle of the grocery department."

Twenty-five minutes. That is how long it took to get about 250 feet. That would be about 60 seconds for each 10 feet I had to go. I am sure the length of the path I took was, in fact, much longer.

In a store that crowded, it would be understandable for a person to accidentally bang their shopping cart into the back of your heels once.

To do so twice is excusable.

To do so three times brings you to the verge of using a few choice words.

But to do so four times--over the course of 45 seconds--can make your eyes glow red, your teeth begin to clench, and your hands tense into fists as you look over your shoulder at the completely oblivious woman behind you and ask:

"What the HELL is your problem, woman?!"

Sometimes, doesn't it just feel as if "sorry" is not enough, not nearly enough. But you can't--you mustn't--get too agressive with the Oblivions existing around you, and risk losing the opportunity to leave the store with such great bargains as exist in the form of a $20 1:10 Scale RC Hummer.

I later drove the short distance to the city where my wife was staying with her parents, and we went to the Mall, and Target, and I stayed in the car while she shopped in Linens n Things.

I found her in the middle of the Mall on a wooden bench with her head in her hands, sobbing.

Why? You ask.

Because she found that Wilson's Leather had soft leather jackets on sale, regularly $149.99 . . . for $69.99. And I have always wanted a soft leather button-down jacket. All they had were the zip-up jackets. When she asked the store clerk if there were anymore button-downs in my size, the clerk pointed to a customer just leaving the store and blithely reported, "I just sold the last one to that woman."

Damn Black Friday. I am not upset over not getting my jacket. I just couldn't believe she'd get so upset over missing the chance to buy it.

It broke my heart.

Two years ago I opened on Black Friday at 5:00 a.m. The shoppers steadily wandered in until about 8:00, when by then I don't believe a single one had left but were all milling around making the place very very warm.

The lines at each of the four registers in my quad extended back a good 30 feet, when a woman finally made it to me carrying about $1,000 worth of name-brand bedding products. After I rang them all up, she decided she wanted to apply for a credit card to save an extra 10%.

So I voided the transaction and quickly went through the terms of the card (which should always happen) and we were completing the application on the register when a customer about 3 back began to complain.

About me.

"F-----g incompetent people they hire around here! What is his g-----n problem? As much time as its taking him up there, he can't get anything right."

Of course she said this loud enough for myself and many of the customers around to hear. I believe she must have thought she could start a revolt--the one lone voice speaking up for those around her. Rally, fellow shoppers! Viva la revolucion! The store is ours!!

But it didn't work.

Instead, the lady behind her spoke over her shoulder--again, as much to me as anyone else-- "Shut the f--- up. He's doing his job. And watch your mouth."

Fat Pseudo-Revolutionary: "Are you talking to me?"

My Hero: "Of course, who else around is acting like an ass but you?"

Fat Pseudo-Revolutionary: "You need to keep your g-----n mouth shut."

My Hero: "You want to shut it for me? Hmm? How about we set our stuff down and take this outside?"

It was about that time, as the first woman became silent at the threat of violence, that a manager approached and asked if there was a problem. Both women were in agreement, there was not.

I think I gave my hero an extra 10% off her purchase. After all, she was willing to go to jail for my honor.

And she gave me a great story to chuckle about the rest of the day.

The moral of all this, if there is one, is this: It is the Christmas season. Enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Happy Turkey Day

Dear Pseudo-Studious 1L Law Student:

Today is a prime opportunity for you. You have already proven to everyone you are serious enough in your studies to actually stay in town and attend class on the last day before your Thanksgiving break. But you aren't done yet. You want to psyche the rest of your classmates out? Today you have the opportunity to place that last nail in their coffin.

This afternoon, as everyone is slowly streaming out of the building, you must be quite conspicuous in your exit. You must make sure everyone sees and is well aware of your devotion to the study of Law. You must demonstrate to them that you are a force to be reckoned with come test-time.

You must empty out your carrel/locker/etc . . . of all its contents--every last book, notebook, supplement, outline, study aid and note--and carry them home.

For added effect, pull your car up to the building. Make two or three trips out of retrieving and loading your Frankenstein-like body of knowledge collected in the pursuit of your first semester legal education. Make sure everyone sees you. Drop a couple of books, ask for help, plead with people to open the door for you. Your feigned embarrasment will be reflected by the fear in your classmate's eyes.

Of course, the vast majority of 2Ls and 3Ls--we will laugh at you. But do we matter? Will we be sitting beside you come December, sweating profusely over a Torts exam full of impossible to follow, Palsgraf-like fact situations? No! Of course not.

But those who will, nary a one that saw you toting your collection of knowledge will rest easy this Thanksgiving . . . As they feast off their mother's turkey, watch football, play card games with the family, and wade through the shoppers of Black Friday, one thought will pull tirelessly at their minds:

"Shouldn't I be studying now? There are only 4 'A's. Already so-and-so is going to get one."

The whole time you will be lounging with your glass of white wine and laughing around the Thanksgiving-day meal. You are in Law School. You now get to sit at the "big table." You have arrived.

And if you want to study-- you can. The books are there. So while they are playing trivial pursuit, you could sit in the corner with your head burried in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

What is that? Did they just ask a question about Cordoza's opinion in Wood v. Lady Duff-Gordon? It couldn't have been, right? Go back to studying!

Because, after all, there were others who carried all of their books home, too . . . right? What if they actually intend to study? What if they are--this very second--buried face first in the Gilbert's Outline for Contracts?

There are only 4 "A"s, you know?

So, Mr./Ms. Studious 1L Law Student, you keep pedaling away to your heart's content in this long Tour de France through the intracacies of the Law.

I will be asleep, more than likely. Watch a parade, if I get up early enough. Toss a football around, if I feel like getting out of my pajamas.

And I'll start studying about the 1st of December. Don't you look forward to being a 2L?


Moonlighting in Misery
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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Review This, Sucka


"Tech trailed 21-17 with 1:33 left, but the Red Raiders marched 65 yards in a drive that included three instant replay reviews, another game-saving play by Danny Amendola and a heart-stopping fourth-down measurement. The craziness didn't end until senior running back Taurean Henderson, playing the final home game of his career, slithered into the end zone with no time on the clock. But even after that play, the 52,625 fans in attendance on a windy and chilly afternoon had to endure a final review before the game-winning score was upheld." from Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, November 20, 2005

Friday, November 18, 2005

By the Way . . .

A big "thank you" to everyone who has--or will--wish me a "happy birthday." In about 2 hours I do intend to "snap out" of my funk.

But doesn't everyone deserve a little time to dwell?

What the Hell?

When during the process of growing up did birthdays become a lot less appealing?

At some point over the past decade, the day or two prior to my turning another year older a cloud descends upon my mood.

So is that was is wrong with me today?

Or am I just tired?

Or could it be the fact that I replaced one leaking fuel injector (after replacing the O-rings on ALL of the injectors only to find they were not the problem) . . .

Then the O-ring in the fuel pressure regulator begins leaking, and the following day I replace it . . .

And I wake up this morning to discover ANOTHER FREAKIN FUEL INJECTOR has sprung a leak and is spewing fuel all over the engine block. . .

Is this why I'm in such a mood?

Or does it have more to do with the fact I have no more money to buy another injector?

I don't know. But I swear I am going to take it out on that damned injector this afternoon when I begin smearing enough JBWeld* on it to suffocate the thing.

And while I'm at it, I may just mix all of both tubes and go Michelangelo on any broken thing I can find around the house.

Just don't piss me off today. You may wake up to find your genitals JBWelded to your thigh.**

*JBWeld, for those who don't know, is a substance created by mixing two different chemicals and used to repair and patch metal parts.

**By "wake up," I of course mean, "when you come-to after having found yourself dropped as a result of your smart mouth." And by "genitals JBWelded to your thigh," I am in no way indicating my aversion to confrontation but simply an overzealous desire to exact an inequitable amount of retribution today. Don't be fooled by my looks. I may be slow, but i'm strong and suprisingly stout.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

This Public Service Message Brought to You By . . .

In light of my post yesterday regarding the problem[s] here at the school with unsuitable sexually-related behavior . . .

As a public service message, I am posting the following link also found on Law & Alcoholism. This might just be the video that needs to be shown to the entire student body.

Sexual Harassment: What Employees Need to Know

[Caution: Video portrays several situations in which physical or verbal sexual harassment is taking place. These situations contain words, actions, and objects not suitable for viewing by young children or the faint of heart. If you have a heart condition or resipatory disorder, please consult a physician before viewing. If easily offended, also please do not click on the above link.]

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"He is a Stand-Up Guy"

Saturday is my birthday.

It is also the annual Texas Tech-OU game, to be played in Lubbock this year.

I was raised in OU Country and my stepfather is a die-hard fan. Originally, he'd planned to come to Lubbock and take me to the game for my birthday. The tickets, at the time, could be bought for about $60. In the time since these plans were made back in August, plans have been changed. My parents won't be coming.

Yesterday I noticed a bunch of people dumping their Tech-OU tickets for $25 each. I couldn't help but wonder if this was a result of last week's fiasco in Stillwater. So I asked a fellow Law Review staff member.

He didn't know the reason and we talked a bit about the game. He said he had season tickets and was looking forward to watching a couple of OU's players. I told him my story and that I couldn't afford tickets. We went on to talk about other things.

This morning he asks me if I'd bought any tickets. When I answered, "no," he went to his carrel and returned with his.

"I talked to my girlfriend," he said, "and I decided I really need to spend some time studying. So I won't need these tickets. Would you like them?"

Of course studying is just an excuse. I am absolutely floored as a result of his generosity, I feel guilty taking them. I am not quite sure how to thank him.

I told a friend about this and her reply was, "Yeah, he is a stand-up guy."

That is a bit of an understatement.

I have said so for some time, and will continue to say-- there is no one more deserving of the E-i-C of Law Review next year. Given the feigned attempt at annonymity on this blog, I am not going to give his name out . . .

But any interested parties with the ability to vote for next year's Executive Board, I will make it quite clear that I believe he is the absolutely most capable person for the job. First, of course, he has to be convinced to run for the position.

I will start promising favors later.

What Does It Take to Be a Law Student?

My extended absence from posting has not gone without some degree of lament on my part. But if there are any who tune in to read about life as a law student . . .

The absences say as much about studying the law as do the posts. You must love the law, because the other things you love will sometimes have to take a backseat.

HOWEVER, this is not what the title of this post was meant to deal with. What I want to ask is this:

Though as law students we were all required to perform at least reasonably well on the LSAT, we all have graduated with some undergraduate degree, and we did so with at least some amount of success . . .



Unfortunately, I am beginning to believe, not much.

Twice in the past month our Dean has found himself in the untenable position of reminding the student body:

(i) There is a certain degree of social decorum expected of future attorneys which (reading between the lines) is not an unreasonable burden given the somewhat-accepted penchant of law students to drink themselves silly;

(ii) The Dean does have a responsibility to make sure only "suitable" individuals are allowed to become lawyers; and

(iii) Even though we aren't always quite sure what the word "suitable" means, "unsuitable" can be much more clear at times and, when this happens, the Dean will not hesitate to refrain from recommending a person for admittance to the Bar.

What does this mean?

It means:

(i) Don't go to a party, sponsored by one of the professors, dressed in black-face, an afro wig, and carrying a grotesquely large phallus. It is especially important you supress any impulse to begin chasing your fellow female law students around with your, uhm, "prop."

(ii) Don't send out mass e-mails to your fellow law students espousing personal political views regarding an issue upon which we will be voting and implying that 2/3 of the student body are close-minded hypocrites for their faith and personal beliefs.

(iii) Don't look at porn when you are in class. Seriously. How much intelligence does it take for a person to realize that if you are sitting in the middle of a class of 60, and you have porn open on your computer, at least 30 people can look over your shoulder and see it?? Let us suppose half of the 30 are women, and at least one-half of the men probably don't find viewing pornography during class a very appropriate diversion. That makes about 23 people. 23 people you have just offended. 23 people, among whom at least one is bound to complain.

Oh, and by the way, people can also read your instant messages, as well. So it is probably not a good idea to bad mouth people over IM because--while you might not be around anyone who could read it or would care if he did--the person you are sending it to just might be. Also, having cyber sex during class is also not a bright idea.

Wow. This makes law students sound like absolute idiots, doesn't it? But, before you judge us, wait a minute. We aren't all bad.

We were told yesterday that, though there is a big problem on the main campus with the use of cell phones during class . . . there has been no problem with us.

So it makes me wonder: If undergrads all used laptops, what kind of trouble would follow them?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Success. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Okay, back off . . .

I know Miers withdrew. I know Alito has been nominated.

I know only because I overheard some conversation on it while I sat toiling tirelessly away on materials for the Water Law Symposium.

I will return with more meaningless commentary on all things Law School in a few days.

Right now I have to prepare for the coming of Maude Barlow (AKA "Canada's Ralph Nader"), Senator Hutchinson, and others . . .

If you want to know details about Texas Tech and Lubbock. Email me and I'll respond soon as I get a chance.
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