Is Black Friday good or bad? Originally it was bad, a term coined by Philadelphia police in the 1960s. Beat cops had an extra workload controlling the people trying to squeeze through the revolving doors at the downtown department stores. Traffic cops had their hands funn controlling the surge of cars on the roadways. Policemen (they were all men) were busy responding to accident reports as a large proportion of women drivers, perhaps unused to driving, crammed themselves, their children and their packages into Chevys and Dodges and Corvairs to head out to Buy Things and return home in time to serve left overs.
Police all over the US dreaded the day, when office workers, before Thanksgiving became a standard four-day weekend, just called in sick and gave themselves one.
The Black Orchid? Real or not? That’s all in the eye of the beholder. Just as with the “black rose” and the “black dahlia” (or for that matter an actual red hydrangea) other obsessions of flower breeders, nature abhors black and we are really talking about dark purple or really really brown. Lately scientists have discovered that some birds have a small deep-black patch of feathers on their necks or heads, but it is small. Crows are purple-black, iridescent black. Even black panthers are actually leopards, and you can still see their leopard markings in their fur.
Back to the black orchid. Most black orchids have their ancestry in the tiny Catasetum tenebrosum, which grows in Ecuador and Peru. The male orchid has dark chocolate petals, but a bright green lip. Breeding, of course, then proceeds to choose orchids with darker chocolate petals, and no green lips. RMPorchids in Akron, Ohio sells a fragrant black orchid (Monn. Millennium Magic ‘Witchcraft’ FCC/AOS, shown below) for around $30, with shipping in the US of $9, on eBay. Wouldn’t it be nicer to stare at, and sniff, this lovely orchid, instead of facing those crowds? And then, perhaps, go out tomorrow and shop at a locally owned business…
Meanwhile, back to Black Friday. Retailers realized that the term “Black Friday” needed a new image. And so they began saying that this was the day of the year that would put them “into the black.” It does not go without notice that fewer people turn out these days, that many of the downtown department stores have closed and been turned into WeWork (RIP) locations. Most of us would rather let our fingers do the shopping and Amazon fulfillment centers do the walking.
Big Box stores, therefore, have resorted to offering tempting prices to the people first through the door, which can cause more of those dangerous crowds the police in Philadelphia were concerned about in the first place.
Crowd control has gotten better, but there are still injuries, and even deaths. It is recommended parents not bring children. And, just FYI: the most dangerous states for Black Friday shopping are Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama. And the safest states – Philadelphia, are you listening? – are Vermont, Oregon, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.