Drats! Not even a columnist can get an early peek at Black Friday inserts

In the bowels of this newspaper, behind locked doors, near the bazillion pound presses, are what all of us avid shoppers are keen to spy.

Most of the advertising inserts about Black Friday sales, that will make our Thursday newspapers bulge, are already stored on pallets at The Herald.

I have an inside track to the goods, right?

Wrong.

I’ve been tempted through the years to get my hands on those ads early. Short of using bazooka-wielding security guards, trust me, we are kept from those pallets before papers churn off the press late Wednesday night. It’s actually against our company policy to touch those advertisements.

Snooty patooty Washington Post.

Like who would I tell? Everybody?

This is the last year I could even dream of sweet talking our production folks into sharing the news. I am taking a buyout and leaving The Herald Dec. 31. That affords me no slack, so I have to wait until Thursday like everyone else to plan my route from store to store.

I’ve worked the day after Thanksgiving for 28 years, and always shopped on my way in.

It’s not going to seem as exciting when I can shop next year, then go back home to bed.

There is advance preparation before going out before dawn. We cook and eat Thursday, then insist on three undisturbed hours to peruse every early bird item, noting on a clipboard when each store opens, where it’s located, and how fast can we get to the next sale.

Do I need to buy a snowboard?

Would Mom like an air hockey game?

There are online sites that claim to know which stores are opening with which door busters. But that seems like cheating. We prepare before bedtime Thursday, try to get a few hours of sleep, hop out of bed at 3 a.m., toss on sweatshirts that may have gravy stains, get in line, clutch the actual ads (items circled with Sharpie markers), and cross fingers they haven’t put 3-D TVs way at the back of the store.

Can we get a cart?

Will they have plenty of check-out clerks?

Are my pants on backward?

Fussbudgets all around the country are complaining about stores and malls opening at willy-nilly hours both on Thanksgiving Day and Friday.

Whiners; just don’t go out. (For the record, I only know of one store that’s opening and I’m not sure if I’ll go.)

If radically staggered hours keep moaners home, there will be more door busters for me and my cohorts who live for the drama.

Sure, I am ashamed about the time several years ago I crashed the line at Target in Everett. I learned, from a Rod Stewart concert and the opening of a football stadium, that non-secured lines do not hold.

I would rather muscle in up front than get trampled.

Here was my strategy: I mingled with folks standing nonchalantly in landscaping in front of Target. We formed a “Survivor” type of alliance and decided to plunge in en masse. When a key twisted in the front door, the line immediately collapsed, as I knew it would, and a half-dozen of us renegades rushed to join the throng.

I pushed forward, elbows out, and got banged on my shoulder when a big male bruiser rammed me off to the side. Hey buddy. I fought my way behind him and gained entry. In my defense, I wasn’t with the herd lunging for CD players.

I was in a big hurry because I had to be at work at 8 a.m. and I still needed to hit Big K. My Target target: $2.88 Cootie and Don’t Spill the Beans games.

My granddaughters still love those games and the sweet Grammie who scored them.

Little do they know.

One year at a Walmart, I was crushed in the mob. Trying to get to a door-buster camera, my feet were lifted off the ground and I was propelled along wherever the crowd moved, like being stuck in a glob of lava.

Not able to breath, I decided not to grab the $10 Cabbage Patch doll as I flowed by the counter.

Shopping seemed less important than living.

Thank goodness the lines at JCPenney are civilized each year. They always give away a Mickey Mouse snow globe to the first shoppers. I am always embarrassed as I scoot inside, take a red box with a globe, and go right back outside to hit another store.

I make it up to them through the rest of the year as I am married to a JCPenney shirt guy.

This is the time of year I miss Lamont’s, the old department store. They always handed out a candy bar with a coupon inside that could be worth $20. Or you could gobble the candy for energy.

I adored the year I ran into my buddy Teresa Hestkind at Mervyn’s at 6 a.m. We were both scrambling for the $20 comforters and luckily knew they were up the escalator and you better grab quick to get a king size.

She rushed off to Toys R Us to snag gifts for her sons.

I said goodbye and drove to my annual last stop.

Good old Fred Meyer offers oodles of half-off socks every year so I stock up. I can hit the store on Casino Road, then dash to my job.

Freddies always gives out free doughnut holes.

They are ever so gracious and don’t care if I take a couple of plain ones and a few dredged powdered-sugar covered balls.

What I’ve never mentioned is that after Black Friday, I avoid crowds, big stores and malls until next year.

Kristi O’Harran, 425-339-3451; oharran@heraldnet.com..

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