How I Know I’m Not in New York (Part 9)

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December 1, 2013
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December 18, 2013
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“Black Friday-and-a-half”

I apologize for the delay, but I’ve been out shopping and didn’t have time until now to jot down the recent conversation with my Romanian friend Remus.

“Remus. Hey, Remus! Over here!!”

“Hi there. Hello, my friend. I didn’t see you. How are you?”

“I’m very well, thanks. But this place is crowded. Wow. I didn’t expect this on a Tuesday night.”

“No? Tonight’s busy everywhere.”


“And I don’t have much time. I’ll just have a quick coffee and then I have to go.”

“Why? Where are you going?”

“Are you joking? I’m going shopping. Tonight’s Black Friday.”

“Remus, tonight’s Tuesday.”


“What do you mean ‘so?’ It’s Tuesday. Not Friday.”

“Oh, that doesn’t matter.”

“Well, yes, actually, I think it does.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

“What do you mean it doesn’t matter. It’s not Friday.”

“Yes, yes, I know.  Actually, technically, in a way you’re right.  Today’s not really Black Friday.”

“No, I didn’t think so.”

“It’s the last day of Black Friday.”


“The last day of Black Friday.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Well, Black Friday runs for almost a week. It started on Wednesday. Today’s the last day.”

“Wait. That makes no sense. Black Friday hasn’t even come yet. It’s the day after Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving isn’t for two more days.”



“I mean so? What difference does that make?”

“Remus, Thanksgiving is always the fourth Thursday of November and all over America, people have the day off. And so every year, people then take the Friday off also to have a long weekend.”

“Ok. I’m sorry. I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t have much time. What’s your point?”

“My point is that, because of this, retailers decided to take advantage of the long weekend and cut their prices. It became the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season.”


“So that one specific day became known as the day when the shops finally started to make a profit for the year.”

“Ok. Ok. Look, really, is this going to take long?”

“Remus, I’m trying to explain. So the retailers’ financial results went from red, meaning a loss, to black, meaning a profit. That’s why we call it Black Friday.”

“That’s all very interesting, but what’s that got to do with us?”

“What do you mean? It’s Black Friday. It’s called Black Friday for a reason. It happens on a Friday. More specifically, it happens the Friday after Thanksgiving. It’s not just on any day you want to pick.”

“It is here.”

“Yes, and that’s my point.”

“My friend, I’m sorry. You lost me. Look out there. All those shoppers are getting to the stores ahead of me.”

“Remus, it makes no sense when you say today’s the last day of Black Friday and today is Tuesday.”

“Oh, you know what? You are so American. Who cares about things like that?”

“Remus, it doesn’t matter if you care, it’s just not possible!”

“Sure it is. You say it’s the day after Thanksgiving. But we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.”

“Yes, I know. Precisely. So don’t tell me that….”

“So we can have it on any Friday we want.”

“Or run it for weeks, right?”

“Yes. Well, no, actually, not for weeks.”


“Because then it would collide with Cybernetics Monday.”

“That’s Cyber Monday. And that’s the Monday after Black Friday.”

“Really? No. We had it last week.”

“You did?”

“And you’re wrong. It’s not just on Monday either.”

“Really? Well then, none of this means anything. You’re just making all this up as you go, aren’t you?”

“Of course. What do you want us to do?”

“I think it would make more sense if you understood the tradition a little. If you’re going to use these days, why not use them correctly?”

“Correctly? You think we have a tradition here?”

“No, I mean…”

“You think the Communists let us have Christmas sales?”

“No. Oh, that’s right, you can do anything you want now because you were Communists.  I’m so tired of that excuse.”

“Yes, my friend. You think it’s easy trying to catch up to your American way of life?”

“Well, Remus, I’m not sure it’s really a goal you should….”

“Yeah, remember, while you were all sitting there with your feet up, watching your American football, eating all your turkeys and drinking Jack Daniels, we were all huddled together here waiting for Saturday to have some hot water.”

“Ok, ok, Remus. I can’t argue that. But if you don’t know how to use our traditions, why don’t you all start your own?”

“What do you mean?”

“You could use your own holidays for sales. Wouldn’t that make more sense?”

“You mean like Halloween?”

“Well, that’s not really Romanian the way…”

“Anyway, that was October 26.”

“Actually, Remus, no. Halloween is always on the 31st of October.”

“Nah, that was a Thursday.”


“So we moved it.”

“Yes, and there’s another example. You can’t just move…”

“Anyway, that’s way too early to start shopping for Christmas.”

“Yes, well maybe.”

“By the way, which saint is that holiday for? What did he dress up and give kids candy or something?”

“Remus, again, there’s a perfect example. You don’t even know why you celebrate these things.”

“Maybe. But I told you we don’t care.”

“Then why don’t you pick a holiday you DO understand and use that to celebrate with shopping discounts and things?”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. How about Saint Nicholas Day? That would make sense, wouldn’t it?”

“Nah, that’s too late. Too close to Christmas. It wouldn’t give us enough time to really get all our shopping done.”

“Ok, how about Saints Michael and Gabriel day? Is that what you call it? That would give you almost two months.”

“What?! Don’t be silly. We can’t do that!”

“Why not? It’s the right time of year. Everyone seems to celebrate it. You could use that…”

“Oh, now stop. Don’t be sacrilegious. That’s an important religious day. You can’t just mess around with that.”

“What do you mean?”

“That’s a serious saint day. You don’t cheapen that with sales and shopping and silly promotions.”

“I don’t understand. You do that with Saint Valentine’s Day. All that candy and flowers and lingerie and stuff. There are lots of sales advertised for that.”

“Yeah, but that’s not a real saint.”

“Of course it is. Saint Valentine was….”

“No. Maybe it used to be. But not anymore.”

“Well, I’m not sure….”

“Listen, I don’t want to be rude, but I really do need to get going. I have a lot of shopping to do and I don’t want to miss the sales.”


“That one store I like has a great sale. Buy six and get the seventh one for 35 percent off! 35 percent!”

“Well, actually, that just means…”

“And the other one I told you about. Some of their things are 80 percent off!!!”

“That is a lot.”

“You would think they’d be losing money, wouldn’t you?”

“Well, actually, I don’t think…”

“No, they must be. Because otherwise that would mean their original price was like….like…..”

“At least five times what they bought it for?”

“Yes. You know what? That means I can buy five more of those for the same price I paid in September!!”


“That’s a great deal! Ok, I really have to go.”

“All right. You have a good time.”

“Thanks. I have to hurry. There’s only about…what? About four weeks left? Is that right? Hey, actually, what day is Christmas this year?

“Remus, it’s December 25, of course.”

“Oh, no, no, no. It’s either the 29th or 30th. But I can’t remember.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Yeah, you didn’t know?”

“Know what?”

“The retailers moved it to Monday to give us an extra weekend to shop.”

“Now that IS new.”

“And thank god they did, or I’d never get everything done.”


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