William serves as a volunteer fireman, acts as the elected county coroner, and runs a funeral home in a rural North Georgia county where social activities begin with the words, "Hey y'all, watch this," and end with the sound of sirens blaring. On a typical day, he arrives on the scene of disaster wearing his fireman's hat, exchanges it for his coroner's cap, then slips on a dark suit and offers the victim's family his condolences and a fine selection of caskets.
Folks call him a good man, a smart man, a diversified man. But when he goes into talking about Good Friday, his wife rolls her eyes heavenward and pleads with the Lord to forgive her husband.
As he tells it, William's family enjoyed a pleasant Thanksgiving and retired to bed that Thursday evening with bellies full of turkey and dressing. About 1a.m., William got the hey-y'all-no-one-has-to-work-on-Friday-so-lets-get-drunk-light-bottle-rockets-and-have-a-big-fistfight-in-the-front-yard emergency call. He shot out of bed.
Later, however, heroic duties performed, but adrenalin still rolling, William knew he couldn't go home and go back to sleep. So, he made his way over to Wal-Mart. That's where he discovered Christmas carols playing on a continuous loop and the true meaning of Black Friday ... err ... Good Friday ... err ... deeply discounted electronics.
The center aisle boasted flatscreens stacked 10 deep. William salivated. Another man drooled nearby then said, "Hey! Didn't you put out a fire at my house last April?"
While catching up on things since the house fire and asking about each other's mamas, they kept their attentions on the tee-vees. They agreed that 50 percent off was a darn good deal. And they would have loaded a few into their carts except that no Black Friday sale items could be buggied or purchased before 4 a.m. The store's countdown clock displayed 1 hour, 28 minutes, and 42 seconds remaining until the official start of Good ... err ... Black Friday.
Under the lingering effects of L-tryptophan, the comrades staked out their loot and barricaded it with shopping carts. As they surveyed their surroundings and the encroaching crowd, it was clear Friday would be blackest before the dawn. William offered to run reconnaissance, and his new friend, what with the fire and all and being beholden to William, volunteered to stay and secure the perimeter. William wandered the electronics aisles. Another insomniac hyped up on caffeine gripped William by the elbow and said, "Hey man, you looking for a computer? This is nothin' but a bargain on these Toshibas. I'm waitin' for the go-ahead and I'm grabbin' mine."
Taking advantage of his fireman's uniform, William asked, "Mind grabbing one for me, too?"
As the go-time drew closer, the atmosphere in Wal-Mart grew tense. Folks got jittery. Late-comers circled, threatening well-laid plans. Muscles twitched, jaws clenched, and people squared off.
A voice yelled, "Hey y'all." A low rumble rose from the automotive department. Someone flinched. Everyone jumped.
There was no way for the blue-vested employees to stop the false-start. Mass chaos ensued. At the same time that William wrapped his arms around his 2 flatscreens, a large, bed-headed woman wrapped her arms around him. Giving a rebel yell, she put all her weight into wrestling those boxes away.
"Did she get them?" I ask.
William's eyes twinkle. "No, I told you, it was Good Friday. That dude showed up with my computer, too."
His wife rolls her eyes heavenward again and thanks the Almighty for not letting "Hey y'all" end in sirens on Good ... err ... Black Friday.
(Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist, freelance writer, and the author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. She lives in Thomson, GA. Lucy invites readers to e-mail her at email@example.com or visit her web site, www.IfMama.com.)