On the night of Thanksgiving, there’s an event that is participated in throughout the United States. It’s called Black Friday, where shopping items are sold for discounted prices. It’s an exciting event, but it also has its cons. Where so many things are up for grabs in a short period of time before it’s all gone, it causes people to get physical, and with such a large amount of people it’s a huge challenge to control people to try to make injuries to a minimum.
I interviewed two people who both had to control the situation on Black Friday, and both have their comments about it.
Black Friday is a fun time for us as customers, but it’s not a fun time for those who work in retail. For example, after talking with Jose S., he mentioned that “Most stores don’t hire a security team for Black Friday. It’s mostly just the regular employees.” In another scenario stores that are within a mall have the reinforcements of mall cops or MSS mall security staff. However, for independent stores it is not common to hire security service. It becomes a problem because without security you depend on you average co-worker to handle all types of people, those who are calm and those who are violent.
Jessica V., who worked at organizing the sales in the mall at Herbergers, said that “There’s a custom for Black Friday events to have a group of items that are more trending to try to catch the attention of the customer but make it so they can spread throughout the store.” One thing that stores, especially Walmart, are known for doing is having the items wrapped with a time written on it, letting the consumer know when its going to be unwrapped for the people to grab. This makes it so large groups gather around the item. This is common for stores that are 24/7, so most supermarkets have this custom. But smaller stores such as in a mall have a main door locked so when the event starts the main door will open which allows everyone to go in.
With these large amounts of people going after something all at once, it can lead to injury, especially trampling with children, elderly, and disabled. In 2006, there were ten people injured in a southern California mall stampede. Other injuries are common as well when law enforcements try to control a situation, especially with pepper spray. In 2011, a pepper spray attack in Walmart injured 20 people. Whether the individual was a officer was not confirmed, but in the same year in North Carolina an off-duty officer pepper sprayed shoppers, leaving 20 injured. There are so many injuries resulting from Black Friday as well as deaths that result from violence with guns that there’s actually a Black Friday death count which stands at 12 deaths and 117 injuries from 2006 to 2018.
Some stores are putting in practice different methods of selling their goods during black Friday, one being having the goods wrapped rather than being first come first serve. They instead have it so each product can be presented at multiple times so instead of having one large crowd trying to get the item all at once, smaller and more frequent groups can grab the item,
all at different scheduled times.
To sum it all up, the event of Black Friday is when items are discounted for the holidays for one night, which has the outcome of people becoming competitive with those items to get them before they run out. This usually leads people being pushed or trampled, which then leads to injury. For these reasons, Black Friday has become less popular and the option of Cyber Monday, an event in which items are discounted on online stores. This gives the people an option to either participate in Black Friday or Cyber Monday so people who do not want to compete in Black Friday can shop online instead. Or for those who do not mind the risk of Black Friday have the option to participate in that as well.
30 years ago Randy Lewis was working with a company in California trying to figure out if it was possible to combine silkworm silk with e coli for certain things. After much trial and error his team found out that it would not work at all. Silkworm silk is elastic but not very strong. He brainstormed ideas for a few hours and thought about using spider silk. After many days and hours of research on the subject of spiders and their silk he found out that the silk of a spider was elastic and strong enough for what they wanted to do. Talking to the project manager, Randy asked if he could take the reins and see where it would take them. He had done all of the research after all. The Office of Naval Research gave them two years worth of funding to find the gene of the spider that makes the silk and clone it.
“It took my team and I a year and a few months for us to find and clone the gene. We created our company and launched our findings a year later.” Randy Lewis stated.
Most of the work that Randy does is generate ideas for his team and help solve problems. Using his knowledge of chemistry and silk fibers, he found a way to put the silk gene of the spider into goats and silkworms to collect the silk protein and fibers. Some may ask why not just use spiders to collect the silk? One problem with using spiders is that they tend to be cannibalistic when there are multiple together. Another reason is that spiders spin six different types of silk at one time, so it makes it nearly impossible to collect them.
Once the ‘spider-goats’ that have the gene have produced their milk, Randy and his team put the milk of the goats into a machine that they have created that isolates the protein of the silk from the milk. From the protein they spin it into fibers or use it to create many different types of things. The one problem that they have is that there are so many uses of the silk that they have to pick and choose what they get to do.
When the silkworms with the spider gene have spun cocoons, the team puts the cocoons into hot water. After the cocoons are soaked in hot water they put them into a machine that spins the cocoons into individual fibers. At this stage the team can decide how thick they want the fibers to be. They can use these fibers that they have created that are stronger than carbon fiber for whatever they choose to do.
“We use the silk and the proteins for a variety of things. Our problem is that there are so many uses for the silk, and we don’t have the space so we have to pick and choose. The fibers we spin into a non-petroleum based fiber which is elastic and stronger than carbon fibers. The non-fiber forms go into either industrial or medical uses. For example, for industrial we have created a glue that is stronger than super glue. For medical we coated a catheter in the protein and made it bendable, and we can add more things like blood clotters and vitamins and even more.” Randy Lewis said.
At this moment they are the only facility that uses goats and silkworms with spider silk. We as a community do not see other facilities do this because it is hard to mass produce the silk. Even Randy and his team have problems with this.
One of their current projects is for the U.S Navy about Hagfish slime. Hagfish slime is very sticky, the Hagfish use their slime to encompass their predators to save themselves immediate danger. Their goal is to try to use the slime and its fibers in non-lethal warfare.