Let's not allow the pepper-spray clouds, bullet showers, and mounds of bloody Brawny towels to obscure our view of the hard-working cashiers, stockers, and other retail workers who staffed the stores and enabled Black Friday to happen. How did they fare yesterday?

As the accompanying photo shows, some ended up in their local water bodies. The Pontiac seen here, half-submerged in Florida's Pahokee Canal, belongs to a 36-year-old Target employee who had just gotten off working the overnight shift after celebrating Thanksgiving and lost control of her car. Sheriff's deputies rescued her before she drowned. "Our thoughts are with the team member and her family for a speedy recovery," a Target spokeswoman said, as company executives patted each other on the backs for successfully interrupting workers' Thanksgivings to achieve higher sales.

Besides striving to stay awake on their drives home, what else did retail employees do to cope with the Black Friday experience?

  • Boise, Idaho Best Buy employee Daniel Wood stayed awake for 24 hours straight (just like a doctor, minus the high wages!) so he could celebrate his holiday and then run off to work. He stayed alert by downing four energy drinks during his 12-hour shift. Meanwhile, Best Buy offered him free healthcare for his sacrifices should anything go haywire with his blood pressure.
  • Wood's coworker Riley Zahm, who hadn't slept "in three days," drank two cups of black coffee and sang Soft Cell and Clash songs. That's what we did just about every evening during our entire freshman year in college, so maybe his ordeal wasn't so bad.
  • Workers at a North Carolina Best Buy subsisted on free food and drinks donated by the store. The (imaginary) menu included pizza topped with caffeine pills, NoDoz-and-jalapeno Hot Pockets, and Red Bull smoothies.
  • On Twitter, @TravyBoyy says he "still smell[s] like [he] took a swim in a pool of Fierce" after working at Abercrombie & Fitch, coming home, and taking five showers.
  • People worked insane shifts: the 28-hour shift, the 28-hour shift again, the 3:15 AM to 9:55 PM shift, the 17 hours then called in for more shift. Sounds awful.
  • Massachusetts workers enjoyed the protection of their state's blue laws, which prohibited their employers from making them come in to work at 11 PM on Thanksgiving Day. Compared to workers in the rest of the country, they got to eat pie for a whole extra hour or hour-and-a-half before starting their shifts at 12:30 AM or 1 AM. No, it's not much of a delay, but it's the principle of the thing.
  • Workers at a Richmond, Va. Best Buy got pumped for their shifts by surrounding their store manager and praying to him.

Actually, news coverage of Black Friday workers and their experiences is pretty light right now. So if you're a retail employee who worked yesterday, tell us how you survived the experience via the comments section and we'll add the best tales to the list above.

[Palm Beach Post, via Miami New Times]