Crazy for Christmas
“I just don’t know what came over me. I was there in line, patiently, like everyone else, waiting for the Black Friday sales to start. Why do these sales keep getting earlier and earlier every year? Who needs to start shopping at midnight? A few people were chatting. A couple others were plotting routes through the store. I was tired, so I just kept to myself.
“Maybe that was it – I’ve just been so tired lately. There’s never enough time for everything that needs to be done. I work all day and come home to help the kids with their homework. Make dinner. Clean the house. Do laundry. Get lunches and backpacks for the next day ready. By the time everything is done and I can get to bed, it’s past midnight and then I’m waking up at 5am to do it all again.
“You could feel…almost a hum in the air as it got closer to the start of the sale. Pallets were everywhere, stacked high with the deals that were being offered. Ridiculous prices – some of them made you think that there was no way the store was making any money off of them. And then, in the back of my mind, I could hear this other voice, telling me to not let anyone get in there and get MY deals, MY bargains, MY products that I had been waiting in line for!
“I thought I was just overtired. After the shopping was done, I was going to go home and take a nap. Try and catch up on some of the sleep I needed. I shook my head to try and clear it. The pallet closest to me was nothing but toasters, 6 feet high. There must have been more than 100 toasters on that little wooden base. And the little voice inside me started trying to convince me that I needed that toaster.
“It’s just a toaster, for Pete’s sake. I already have one and didn’t need another. Everyone I know has a toaster. And, really? A toaster for $2? How good of a toaster could it be? I wasn’t even there for the toaster sale! I’d been in that line for hours for an XBOX360. My son had been wanting one for years. I’d finally been able to save up enough money for it.
“The sales people came out and people started perking up. Phones were put away, people stretched. One lady did deep knee bends and some lunges. I remember thinking that she should’ve worn better fitting pants, because hers kept going low enough to show butt crack. All around me, people were starting to shake off their tiredness. But me? It felt like a fog was coming over me.
“I don’t know how it happened, I really don’t. My hand was on my purse, keeping it near me like I always do. Then my hand was in my purse, around the little can of pepper spray I keep in there for emergencies. When the sales people removed the dividers, I turned and sprayed everyone with the pepper spray and ran to the toaster display. I grabbed two of them, one under each arm, and ran off.
“I felt like I was watching someone on TV, shouting at the screen. ‘What are you doing, you idiot?’ It’s like I was on autopilot, but the part of me that controlled my mind was paralyzed. I was moving and talking and shouting at people, but none of that was what I was telling my body to do.
“It was almost a relief, when I was caught at the front doors. A part of me – the real me, not this crazy me – was shocked at my behavior. Was I really going to run out the door with four dollars in toasters?
“I don’t remember much after that. It’s like a fading dream. I was in a car and my arms were behind me. They hurt. I was in a room with lots of people, and they were arguing. A man in a uniform brought me to a room with a bed, and I was so happy to see it that I started crying. At last I could sleep!
“Someone dressed in all white brought me here, to see you, after I slept. You said you wanted to help me. That was nice. No one has offered to help me in such a long time. So now I come to see you every day and I get to talk and talk. You don’t argue with me over anything, or say that I said or did something wrong, or that I’m late getting somewhere. And whenever I leave, you give me those little pills that make it really easy for me to sleep again.
“Do you think, though, that I could maybe be untied from this chair? It would be nice to be able to move my arms and legs again. Or itch my nose. Maybe someday soon?
“For now, I think I’d like to go back to my room. I am so very tired. There’s a picture of a Christmas tree on the window and I like to look at it as I fall asleep. I’ll see you tomorrow, Doctor. Merry Christmas.”