The 4 a.m. chill settles into your bones. You're on a mission, running a well-crafted strategy through your mind again and again. As you visualize the path you'll take into battle, the action draws near. Chuffing warm breath into your hands, you try to stay loose. It's a last-ditch effort to stave off a milieu of emotional and physical states: excitement, fear, adrenaline, fatigue. Now is the time for singular focus.
It's Black Friday.
The line you've been queuing in for the last 45 minutes is starting to morph from orderly to insanity as everyone makes a break for the just-opened store doors. Whether you'll be one of the first few to snag a door prize remains to be seen. It's every shopper for himself. This is war.
We're not sure why ordinarily rational Americans lose their minds at the thought of picking up electronics at big discounts on the day after Thanksgiving. Perhaps the lack of sleep and the adrenaline rush from fighting crowds have something to do with it. To illustrate, we've uncovered 10 fascinating and terrifying Black Friday stories, just in time for your holiday shopping adventures.
10.Shootout at the Toys R Us
It began as any other Black Friday rush, but in 2008 at a Toys R Us in Palm Desert, Calif., something went terribly wrong. Two women began throwing verbal jabs and then actual jabs in the store's electronics department.
Then the two men they were with began fighting and drew handguns. As other shoppers scrambled to safety, the men turned Toys R Us into a scene from the Old West. They chased each other down the store aisles, firing and killing each other (but no one else) during the incident.
9.A Rip-roaring Time
Although a Wal-Mart in Upland, N.Y., was open all night on Thanksgiving 2009, employees had put aside special merchandise that was not to be opened until 5 a.m. on Black Friday. Unfortunately, the bargain hunters weren't willing to wait.
Scores of shoppers began ripping into the shrink-wrapped items hours before they were to be released. Frantic employees called police at 2:44 a.m. for help in controlling the crowds. The rowdy shoppers were all ordered outside and told to line up and wait. They passed the time outside by yelling and screaming and pounding on the store glass. It wasn't until 6 a.m. that order was restored and shoppers were cautiously let back inside in groups of 30.
8.They Stepped Over His Dying Body
Just after midnight on Black Friday 2011, something went terribly wrong for one shopper in a South Charleston, W.Va., Target store. The 61-year-old man became ill and dropped to the floor -- where he remained as frenzied shoppers stepped over his body on their way to Black Friday bargains.
Eventually, a nurse discovered the ailing man and started performing CPR. An off-duty paramedic also came to the man's aid, and they waited with him for an ambulance to arrive. Although the man was transported to the hospital, he later died. Outraged friends and family said they couldn't fathom why someone didn't help him sooner.
7.Sucker Punched at Sears
No one likes a line cutter. But some people take it to extremes.
While waiting in line at a San Antonio, Texas, Sears at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving night in 2012, a shopper tried to cut in line. When another man objected, the offending line-hopper punched him in the face. The man who took the sucker punch pulled out a handgun, a move he later said he made in self-defense.
The line cutter fled. Police took the gun owner into custody but released him, saying he was within his rights as he had a concealed handgun permit. He was asked to leave the Sears but given a store voucher for his next visit. Amazingly, shopping resumed just 10 minutes after the incident.
6.Abandoned at Kmart
Most Black Friday shoppers pick up a few extra items as they browse retailers. One man, however, returned home with far less than he should have.
In 2012, at a Kmart in Springfield, Mass., a man went into the store searching for a flat-screen television. Unfortunately, he left his girlfriend's 2-year-old son in the backseat of his car while he shopped at 1:30 a.m. Although he did find a bargain-worthy TV, he abandoned the sleeping boy -- and his car -- in the Kmart parking lot.
Police later found the man at home apparently watching his new big-screen TV. They were unsure how he was able to transport it home without his car.