Tuesday 7 November 2017

Bread and Milk: A Black Friday Horror Story


Friday at last!

Mark stifled a yawn and glanced at his watch. What a long week. All he wanted to do was go home, crack open a beer and snuggle on the couch in front of the TV with his wife.

His phone vibrated on the desk. He picked it up and glanced at the screen.

Hi honey. Would you please stop at the shops on the way home and pick us up a loaf of bread and some milk? Love you.

Mark sighed. He peaked his head over his cubicle dividers. Everyone was still hard at work, their heads down. He supposed nobody would miss him if he snuck out now.


The parking lot was a mess. At this time on a Friday afternoon? And then it hit him: Black Friday. He groaned. Outside of Christmas Eve, the worst possible day to be at the shops. Why South Africa had seen fit to pick up on this obscene American tradition, he couldn’t say.

After driving around for ten minutes, he finally found a space, as far away from the entrance as it was possible, it seemed.


As he predicted, the shop inside was a nightmare. You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting someone. Glancing around, he saw people pushing and shoving to get at the last remaining items on almost empty shelves. It seemed like there was nothing left. What was everyone still doing here? He hunched his shoulders, stuck his hands in his pockets, and made a beeline for the bread.

It actually wasn’t so bad at the bread racks. There was still quite a bit left, and the crowd had thinned a bit. With a muffled “Excuse me,” he stuck his hand between two women who were arguing over expiry dates, grabbed a loaf, and hugged it to his chest as he headed towards the milk—which of course was all the way at the back of the shop.


To get to the dairy aisle, he had to go through the toy section. That was quite an achievement. Soccer moms crammed the aisle, bustling to get at blonde haired dolls or the latest robotic dogs. Nobody seemed to pay him any attention as he shouldered his way through.

By the time he reached the milk, the loaf of bread in his hands had been squished to the point where it might have been mistaken for a bag of hamburger rolls.

There were two bottles of milk left by the time he reached the refrigerated shelves, and as he got there, a burly man lunged in front of him. With a “Sorry boet,” he snatched up one of the bottles. Mark reached in and grabbed the last one, before turning to see a woman scowling at him. He smiled a sheepish apology and started towards the checkout lines.


Standing in the line, Mark groaned inwardly as he saw the massive queue of people in front of him. Many had trolleys fully loaded with electronic devices, toys, and groceries. At this rate, it would take an hour to reach the front. He looked around frantically, to see if there was perhaps a shorter line. There wasn’t.

He spied a coffee display with a sign advertising 50% off his favourite brand. People were literally stampeding to get at that; an old lady had been knocked to the ground. He briefly considered leaving his queue to fetch himself one, but one look behind him changed his mind. At least twenty people were now lined up behind him. Besides, he remembered there was still a full pot in the cupboard at home. Best to stay put.


Three more people ahead of him. And they didn’t look like they had too much stuff. He’d be home soon.

He felt a vibration in his pocket. He shifted the milk into his other hand and tucked the bread under his arm so he could fish out his phone. Then, realising he’d reached into the wrong pocket, blushed and swapped everything over the other way.

Mark glanced at the screen.

Another message from Kate:
Oh, by the way, babes, are you still at the shops? I see there’s 50% off coffee. Won’t you pick up three pots for us?

Mark hit reply, and hastily typed:
Saw it too. All out. Sorry. 

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