The Return of Saint Conan

Yes, it’s that time of year again: Annual Barbarian Melee Day is almost upon us! All Hail St. Conan!!!

Saint Conan - Patron of Black Friday Shoppers

You may be planning to go out to fight with the rest of the horde this Thanksgiving – or in the dark, early hours of Melee Day’s cold, cheerless morning. This is, as always, your choice. If you must let your barbarian flag fly, then of course it’s best that you do it in a socially acceptable manner which results in a minimum number of fatalities and where the main casualty is your debt-to-income ratio.

The main casualty. But not the only one.

There are scattered tales of shocking or near-comedic woe that follow in the wake of every Melee Day: A participant trampled to death here, a fistfight there, a child abandoned in that store or a firearm brandished in this one. These are the newsworthy, clickworthy tales. Not so much the sad, colorless day-before stories of holiday plans which could never be made, of makeshift meals taking the place of the traditional feast, of empty chairs where a parent or sibling should have been seated but instead was pressed into service to cater to the needs of the rampaging horde as it raids and pillages and celebrates with abandon.

And once the horde has moved on, that service continues as those conscripts work to repair the destruction left behind and prepare for the return of the barbarians in the morrow’s cold pre-dawn light. They will return home tired and little richer for their efforts, dispirited, bruised and battered, perhaps having lost faith in their fellow man, perhaps just in their choice of profession. Maybe they promise their families that next year, it will be different. Next year, they will no longer service the horde.

But somebody has to. The forces which push and drive the horde will not stop – they have no incentive to. Because so long as the barbarians gather, the conscripts will continue to be pressed into service year after year after year. Is it acceptable? No. Is that going to make you stop? I doubt it. The need for melee is in your blood, we know it. Perhaps, however, you can call on the might of Saint Conan to help you confine this urge to one single day a year. His day.

On a more serious note, there are people whose careers require year-round availability, and that’s not what we’re talking about here. Someone has to be on duty in the hospital, at the police station, on the ambulance or at the firehouse 365 days a year, and hats off to those people for their service. But as I’ve mentioned in a previous Black Friday rant, nobody has a Big Lots emergency on Thanksgiving Day. Forcing our retail workers to work on federal holidays, often without holiday pay or with shortened hours for the week to offset the fact that they’re getting holiday pay, is a dick move. Stay home. Eat your fucking turkey, watch the goddamned dog show or the football game or Netflix or whatever. Your day to be a barbarian is the day AFTER Thanksgiving.

For those of you who believe the horde’s activities should at the very least be confined to Annual Barbarian Melee Day, know that there is a growing list of stores that will not open on Thanksgiving Day and therefore deserve your consideration.

For a list of stores that don’t believe anyone outside of the plush offices of the corporate elite is a human being whose life and heart has value, click here so you can tell everyone you know who not to work for. (Update: Add your local mall-based ThinkGeek store to that list, because they are also open on Thanksgiving. D20 light-up mug emergency? I think not.)

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