Abandoning hearth and home, thousands of people across the country ran to heed the annual call of Black Friday.
Just one day, or even less, after Americans gave thanks for all they have, hordes of shoppers looking for a bargain walked over each other for the first major holiday sales of the year.
In their wake, they left chaos.
Not just anticipated crowds and disappointed bargain hunters who couldn’t get to the TVs, computers or other objects of their attention. The Black Friday crowds this year left behind injured shoppers, wounded cops, trampled children and at least one shot shoplifter.
In the Chicago suburb of Romeoville, police shot a shoplifter in a car who dragged an officer across a Kohl’s parking lot. Both the officer and suspect are expected to recover.
In Rialto, California, another officer was injured when a Wal-Mart opened its doors early, apparently leading to a brawl among shoppers outside the store and two more fights inside.
A Las Vegas shopper carrying his new TV home was shot in the leg. He is expected to recover.
Across the country, people waited in absurdly long lines, even camping out, just to get sales that sometimes weren’t all that great on goods that were mostly intended for holiday gifts.
When people weren’t lined up like lemmings, they were acting like packs of hungry animals.
It was like ringing a dinner bell to make the dogs come running.
In Ohio, two people were trampled by shoppers, one of them a child, the other an elderly woman. In Utah, another person was trampled.
It wasn’t that many years ago, 2008, that a Wal-Mart employee was trampled and killed in a Black Friday crowd.
In Philadelphia this year, two women got into a fistfight that escalated into a taser fight as horrified onlookers begged them to stop.
Is this really what Americans have been reduced to, scrabbling over discount flat-screen TVs and electronic bric-a-brac?
Pope Francis recently made waves by criticizing the influence of “unbridled capitalism.” Watching the scenes fro Black Friday, it’s difficult not to admit that he has a point.