Saturday, November 29, 2008

Excess Kills

A temporary maintenance employee was trampled to death on the day after Thanksgiving when shoppers broke down the doors of the Long Island, New York Walmart where he worked. Jdimytai Damour was 34-years old.

According to an Associated Press article, The New York Daily News, and numerous other reports I've read and heard over the weekend, there were more than 2000 people gathered outside this Walmart store. They wanted to be near the front of the line when the doors opened for the Black Friday sales event at 5:00 a.m. In my opinion, the only things people should be doing at 5:00 a.m. are sleeping, working out, feeding hungry babies, or delivering newspapers. I'm usually not even interested in morning sex at 5:00 a.m., much less shopping.

Apparently, this particular crowd did not agree. For these bargain hunters, even 5:00 a.m. wasn't early enough. They were hell bent on getting some good deals on GPS receivers, children's toys, and big-screen TVs. At 4:55 a.m. , they decided they didn't care who they needed to step on to get what they wanted. Literally.

They pushed on the locked doors of the store until the metal hinges gave way and glass shattered onto the floor. Then, they shoved their way into the Walmart, stepping over the demolished doors and Mr. Damour who was lying under their feet, gasping for breath. When the EMTs eventually made it through the massive crowd to attend to Mr. Damour, they were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

Some people refused to stop shopping when police notified them that the store was closing due to the death of a man. Several witnesses reported that many people protested that they had been in line since the morning before and they were not leaving until they finished shopping. They were eventually cleared out until the store re-opened at 1:00 p.m. the same day, approximately eight hours after Mr. Damour died.

The Damour family is still waiting for an official autopsy report. It will probably say "heart attack" or "traumatic internal injuries" but I know the real cause of death: Greed.

Every single person waiting in line that day contributed to Mr. Damour's death. The Walmart corporation that scheduled the Black Friday early opening is partly to blame, as well. The managers of this particular store who failed to hire enough security to protect its employees are also culpable. And then there's all of us.

As members of our more-more-more consumer society, are we completely off the hook? If we didn't buy it, would they sell it? If we didn't show up at 5:00 a.m., would they open the stores that early? Does anyone really need all of the bigger and better electronic crap that we buy and give for holiday gifts?Are we having any real impact on the economy when we purchase a digital picture frame for $42.97?

As parents, we're supposed to instill values in our children like kindness, compassion, and honesty. We're supposed to teach them how helping and giving to others improves the giver's life so much more than receiving "things." We're supposed to raise them in such a way where we are improving the lives of their children. Are we really leaving the world better than we found it by buying an Xbox on sale? Is it worth $259 plus one human life?


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