My Two Cents: Holiday shopping now a contact sport

In a sure sign that the American economy is recovering, a Florida woman shopping the day after Thanksgiving was trampled by bargain hunters who stepped over her as she suffered a seizure on the floor of a department store.

According to various reports – which, sadly, I am not making up – Patricia Van Lester waited in line for three hours early to buy a DVD player on sale at a Wal-Mart store in Orange City, Fla. When the doors opened at 6 a.m., she entered and picked up a DVD player but was knocked to the ground by the crowd that had gathered for the start of the Christmas shopping season. Van Lester hit her head on the floor, lost consciousness and suffered a seizure, while others in the crowd stepped over her. Paramedics were called and arrived to find shoppers ignoring the 41-year-old who was still unconscious. (That must have been one heck of a sale!)

This unfortunate incident marks the official designation of Christmas shopping as a contact sport. As a public service of sorts, I offer some tips on surviving the dangerous activity that is the holiday gift-buying experience:

– You’ll want to warm up, stretch and tape up before you hit the stores. Also, don’t forget your knee pads, elbow pads and helmet.

– You’ve got a better chance of coming across a photograph of Houdini locking his keys in his car than you do of finding a parking space at most retail outlets this time of year. Consider parachuting in.

– Be aware of your positioning in the store. You don’t want to make the rookie mistake of finding yourself obstructing the season’s hottest toy (whatever that might be this year…I’m so out of touch) from a desperate parent – that’s like coming between a mother bear and her cubs.

– Surreptitious use of a stun gun is not only an effective way of dealing with overly aggressive fellow shoppers, but it also helps in reducing the number of people waiting in line ahead of you to pay for merchandise.

– Be a good sport. For example, instead of simply stepping over an unconscious individual who is suffering from a seizure, take a few minutes out of your busy shopping schedule to call for medical assistance and comfort the fallen shopper.

“My Two Cents” is a weekly column where the author – who apologizes for this partial re-hash of a column he wrote last December, because he just got back from a lot of time off and isn’t quite back in the swing of things just yet – gets in his two cents worth in spite of the old saying that you only get a penny for your thoughts.