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More adventures in shopping: Standing in line at Radio Shack the day after Thanksgiving

It was in these very pages a year ago that I swore I would never do it again, but alas, I am a terrible backslider, a breaker of oaths, a man so bereft of convictions that I could probably hold any political office in America. Yes, after promising myself, my pillow and my readers that I would spend the morning after Thanksgiving sleeping in until the shameful hour of 8:30 a.m. or so, there I was, standing in front of a Radio Shack at 5:25 a.m., alone in the cold and dark, shivering and cursing my spinelessness.

My wife and son spent Thanksgiving afternoon plotting their plans of attack for the following morning, while I just kicked back and thought, "Suckers!" But then my son came up to me and said, "Dad, it looks like you're going to have to go to Radio Shack."

I said, "Dude, it's Thanksgiving. They're closed."

He said, "No, tomorrow morning."

I gave him my best Chris Tucker "Oh, hell no!" Then I asked, "What do you need, Slave-to-Technology Boy? A digital-readout tire gauge?" (I had tried to think of the stupidest idea I could, and I thought I had done a pretty good job until I actually saw one of them on the shelf at Radio Shack just a few hours later.)

My daughter was home from Cornell for the holiday, and she and I stayed up real late competing against each other (and that Damn-I'm-Glad-He's-Gone Ken Jennings guy) on some Jeopardy episodes I had taped and set aside for her return. We've been playing Jeopardy for years, and I know she's my daughter and all, but it always feels good to whup an Ivy League student.

So, with three hours' sleep, I fell out of bed and staggered to the bathroom. I gave serious consideration to not brushing my teeth, thinking it might help me in the coming hours, but no advantage is worth walking around with your mouth tasting like the bottom of a bird cage.

I drive up to the Radio Shack on Oracle and Roger roads. It's 5:22 a.m. No one else is there, but like a moron, I get out of the car and go stand in front of the door. It's freezing cold, but it was cold in the car, too, because I never use my heater. It's that old Embrace the Desert philosophy.

About 15 minutes later, an SUV pulls up. The people stay inside with the motor running until another vehicle pulls up, at which time the first group scrambles out and gets in line behind me. There's a man, two women and a girl of about 9 or 10, which I'm certain constitutes child abuse.

All three adults were talking extra loudly on cell phones, in Spanish, and all three were smoking. Perhaps because I still go to church all the time, I think God is allowing me to try on my own personal hells for size so I won't hold up the line when the time comes. First of all, I'm thinking, "What poor souls are they talking to in that nasty-ass nasal voice at cinco y media en la mañana?"

Having played baseball in Mexico for a while, I can deliver exactly two Spanish phrases perfectly. I can ask for someone to pass the chile (salsa), and I can ask where the bathroom is, almost always in that order. But I turned around and did my best to ask them in Spanish if they could please not smoke. The guy looked up from his little bitch-ass cell phone and said something, which I assume was along the lines of, "Won't you please be so kind as to join us in our cancer?"

Steve Martin used to say that all you can do in those situations is turn your back and pray for flatulence.

At about 5:50 a.m., people were moving around inside the store. I glanced at the ad in my hand to make sure I knew which items I had to get. Then, the picture of one of those items caught my eye. I had one of those movie moments when the picture on the screen pulsates forward and back while high-pitched violins give you the Psycho shriek "Eek! Eek! Eek!"

The ad read, "Save $6."

I was standing in line an hour before sunset to save a total of $12.

I gave serious consideration to getting in my car and going home, but then I glanced behind me and saw that the line had grown to 50 or 60 people. I suddenly felt ... oh, I don't know ... superior.

As the guy was opening the door, I asked him where the items were in the store. He paused and pointed them out to me. I was literally out of the store before the last person in line was in.

I hocked a loogie on the door handle of the smokers' SUV (again wishing that I hadn't brushed my teeth), got in my car and drove to the gym to work out in a blessedly empty workout place.

While I'll never get back the sleep I missed, all in all, like Ice Cube says, I guess it was a good day.

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