I keep seeing these adds on the internet for "Black Friday" sales in the U.S. What did I see today? One store is opening at 5 a.m.! When I left the U.S. 14 years ago, the day after Thanksgiving was already a big shopping day, but I get the feeling that it's way out of control now, even earning a distinctive name in recent years. Anyway, I had my own shopping experience today, and the best thing to call it is "Crazy Thursday."
As an aside, Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Nigeria. But this year the Muslim Sallah has fallen on Thursday and Friday so we actually have a 4-day weekend, just like many of our American friends. Last year we also happened to get Thanksgiving Day off because of a local election, but then the next day chaos reigned as riots erupted throughout our city.
Back to the story...I've been running out of everything lately: toilet paper, dish soap, flour, sugar, etc. It was obviously time to take a trip to the bulk foods section of the market. In fact, the last time I was there was in May before I traveled to the US. I bought 96 rolls of toilet paper then, and we just ran out now. A couple months ago I tried to get into the market, but the traffic was just too heavy. Because of that, I was trying to be very strategic in planning my next attempt to the bulk foods market. I really figured that an early morning run on a public holiday would be a great time to go. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Huge tractor trailers full of 50 kilo bags of flour, rice, sugar, or boxes of soap completely blocked off the road, while their goods were off-loaded onto the heads of strong young men. The men have this running-walk that they use when carrying such heavy loads. Just stay out of their way when they're coming through.
I saw a couple of tempers flare up throughout the busy market area, probably similar to some altercations which will occur during the U.S. "Black Friday."
There was a great deal of hustling and bustling. Things seem to move faster in this market than in any other market in Jos. Anyone who sells retail food provisions throughout Jos buys from this market. It wasn't the holiday that made it busy; it's just this way every day. Actually I'm sure Sundays would be a bit slower, but the market would still be open.
My neighbor went with me so I could introduce her to this side of town and this type of buying. We both had pretty extensive lists. We went to one shop, about 10 feet wide by 20 feet long, and told the shopkeeper what we wanted to buy. Then he went around getting everything for us. If he didn't have it in his shop, then he would get it from his neighbors. It took quite awhile because other customers were constantly coming in and interrupting our transactions.
Finally, we had everything we wanted in a huge pile outside the shop's entrance. I hired a young man to put the load in his 'truck' which is a cart that can hold about 3 times as much as a wheelbarrow. He headed down the street towards our vehicle with the load. My neighbor, Lily and I took another route along the frontage of the shops. When we saw our car, we were surprised that the 'truck' hadn't yet arrived. I went back to search and found that they were stuck in the middle of a huge traffic jam. There was really nothing to do but wait for the jam to somehow sort itself out. I have never seen that place so congested before.
So much for my proposed peaceful outing to the market! But at least with all of the shopping I did today, another trip shouldn't be necessary until February!