Sunday, November 24, 2013

Shopping on Thanksgiving: A Rant.

I believe that a prerequisite for any position in any sector that pays more than $25,000 a year should be previous employment in the service industry during at least one holiday season.  This includes retail, grocery, and food service.  You learn more about the dark side of humanity and how to work in high-stress situations both as an individual and as a team when you have to face the foe of holiday shoppers.
Furthermore, every person should be forced to give up their holidays to receive crappy pay and short (if any) breaks.  You - yes you, my avid reader - should know what it's like to sacrifice time with your loved ones on Thanksgiving.  To wake up at 2:30 AM on Black Friday to be yelled at all day by materialistic goons.  To hear customers say over and over again how sorry they are that you have to be working on Christmas day while they order eight specialty coffee drinks and don't leave a dime in your tip cup.

Then, and only then, do you have any right to utter "I think it's GREAT that stores are open on Thanksgiving" in my presence.

I fully understand that there are plenty of people in this country that don't have families that they can spend the holiday with (or, in some cases, there are people who can't stand being around their families and would much rather be out and about).  I think about this one man who was a regular at the coffee shop that I worked at who was a "staff favorite".  Simply put:  everyone loved this man to pieces.  He was kind, hilarious, intelligent, and compassionate - and he would always be in our lobby during the holidays.

Here's the part where the CEO's of coffee shops around the planet say "See?!  Now what would that man do if our doors weren't open?  We need to be the community gathering place for those who need another home!"

Yeah.  OR you could do what one of my coworkers did back when we were closed on Thanksgiving - you could invite him over to your family dinner.

When we focus exclusively on the green in our pockets and the goods in our totes, we forget that there's a very human element to the holidays.  One of the more beautiful Thanksgiving traditions is to set one extra place at the table for anyone who may come to your door on the day of the feast.  It's a reminder that we are to be thankful for what we have, but recognize the opportunity to share what we have with all of those that we encounter in life.  How can we, as a society, re-learn how to communicate with and care about one another when we are perpetually seeking "bigger and better"?   

I don't offer my bold opinions often, but I have no qualms sharing this viewpoint because I think I am unequivocally correct in this matter:

I think it's a disgusting perversion of corporate power that businesses open early and close late on Thanksgiving, and I'm even more disgusted by the fact that we as a nation encourage this trend. When you, as a shopper, step into a business on Thanksgiving day, you are telling every employee there that they are not important enough to spend time with their families.

We must curb this culture of selfishness and materialism.  People, I am begging you - please don't shop on Thanksgiving day. 

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