I ran into my old buddy Lance, when I was up in Portland for Thanksgiving. I wasn’t surprised. Lance is one of the people who naturally gather in Norway’s wake. Whenever Norway enters my life, like clockwork, Lance will not be far behind. We never seek each other out, either. There’s an invisible hand that nudges us toward each other. This time, up in Portland, Lance was doing a Black Friday People’s Mic workshop.
As the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday gets its name for no sinister reasons. Legend tells it, that particular Friday is black because: financially, that’s the day most retail businesses go into the black for the year. It’s become a cultural holiday on par with the Super Bowl. Nobody gets time off from work, and the mail gets delivered, but we all know that something special is going on that day. People make plans for that day. They save up money for that day.
All of which is why it has become a target. Black Friday is the collar tied to the chain that we keep getting yanked by.
Lance showed up out at the parking lot of the Jantzen Beach mall, wearing a metal dog collar and leash. Otherwise, he was nicely dressed. His brown hair was combed back and tied in a pony tail. He didn’t have any rings in his lips. There were around twenty of us, gathered between the packed rows of cars. We were dressed for our best; cleaned and coiffed.
Merry introduced herself as “Merry with an E.” Jason brought his kid, Noah. Virgil called himself an old hippie, but he was clean shaven and wearing a polo shirt. I would have mistaken him for middle management.
“The cops aren’t the enemy,” Lance told us. A cool wind was blowing steadily off of the Columbia River. It wasn’t a warm day. “People who tell us to ‘get a job,’” Lance said, “haven’t learned the secret yet.”
Right on cue, Jason asked, “What’s the secret?” He was kind of short, wearing rumpled jeans and a hoody. I don’t think he dressed special for the occasion.
“The secret is: you can join us now, or you can join us later.” Lance played with the leather wrist loop at the end of his leash. “One way or another, it’s going to happen. But, we could really use your help now.”