REMINDER: Not Having To Work On Thanksgiving Is A Privilege

Every year, I see all of these posts on Facebook and other social media sites going around about companies choosing to not be open on Thanksgiving, so that employees can be with their families. There’s also the loud, ALL CAPS proclamations that only hideous and awful people would work or shop on the holiday.

I wrote about this several years ago, in fact it was the only time I was Freshly Pressed on WordPress’s coveted homepage. I guess I didn’t get my point across to you guys, though, because still many of you are continuing, I see along your own blogs, Facebooks, and Twitter feeds, to look down upon people that work on holidays, and shame those that shop on Thanksgiving.

To be clear: if you don’t want to shop on Thanksgiving, I don’t care. And if you are fortunate enough to not have to work on Thanksgiving…well cheers! Good for you!

But this is one of those times that the famous quote comes into play: privilege is thinking something is not a problem, because it does not affect you personally.

So let’s try this one again.

Not having to work on Thanksgiving is a privilege. I’m sure if your house catches on fire because you don’t know how the fuck to use your oven properly, you’ll appreciate the fire fighters and ambulance workers that – wait for it – work on Thanksgiving, instead of spend time with their families.

Let’s say you suffer some burns and have to go to the hospital. Certainly the employees there are terrible people for choosing to work on the holiday, instead of being with family as well.

There are a host of professions in which holidays are like any other day: non-negotiable. And before you all get back on your high horse and start in about how retail employees, specifically, should receive the day off to spend that time with their families, consider a few things:

  1. Many retail employees don’t make shit for pay any other day of the year, so need the overtime pay. When I was in college, paying my way through, I volunteered to work every holiday so that I could have some extra cash for books. I still got off in time for my family to plan their dinner around my schedule. It can be done.
  2. Many retail employees work in jobs where they don’t make shit for pay AND they don’t get holiday pay or PTO for that day off. That one day to “spend with their families” is literally the difference between making the rent, and being evicted.
  3. Many people have other family members who work in the positions I mentioned or are in the military, or have recently had a falling out with family or recently had a tragic death …there are a ton of reasons why someone would choose to go work to take their mind off an otherwise depressing situation. It’s the holiday season, and that isn’t always a positive thing for people (check post-holiday suicide rates if you don’t believe me). We should all be comfortable doing what we have to do to get through it.

And for the people that shop on Thanksgiving…that go out and wait for the deals. Sure, some of them are just materialistic pieces of trash who want cheap, new TVs.

But there are some in there, too, that have to get those deals, or Christmas for their kids doesn’t happen. Like at all.

Not having to working or shop on Thanksgiving is a privilege. Those of you in either, or both, of those positions should be grateful (hey…you could post about it on your Facebook grateful status).

I May Shop On Thanksgiving

not-shop-on-thanksgiving-300x300How many friends will I lose over this one? What kind of a backlash will I receive by people that have followed my blog for years?

Don’t know. Don’t care. Seriously – don’t wear underwear.

You see the thing is, I may shop on Thanksgiving.

And I’m getting sick and goddamned tired of hearing about how you won’t.

I used to work in retail. When I was in high school, I worked at Burger King and then Wendy’s. Then when I moved to California, I got a job at the mall in a department store that no longer exists (talk about making me feel ancient). Then I landed a position in a local pharmacy, where I worked for a whopping seven years.

The company that was that chain of drugstores no longer exists either, having been bought out by CVS a few years ago. I’m going to go dig my grave now.

I always wanted to work on holidays. I requested to work on holidays. A lot of people that work in retail do.

Holidays – for me – were a time to make extra money. We always got off or closed in time to do family stuff. And if – by some odd chance, we didn’t – family stuff was scheduled around my work schedule.

Because what the more privileged people of this nation don’t realize, or are so far removed from their own experiences, is that people that work in retail don’t make shit for salary. Holidays may be family time, but your family ain’t eatin’ shit because you make minimum wage, which is not – in any city or state in this, our United States – a livable wage.

So when I hear people talk about how Thanksgiving is a day for family, and people shouldn’t have to work… And how they will be boycotting shopping on Thanksgiving because of the sanctity of the holiday, I often think to myself wow, these people must have no idea what it’s like to be hungry. And surely they don’t know what it’s like to be unable to buy Motrin for their baby, or pay for their son or daughter to participate in a school field trip.

And I also think that they’re hypocrites. Because for every Kmart that is open on Thanksgiving day, and every Walmart that opens at 6 pm on the blessed holiday of shoving as much turkey down your gullet as you can, there is a restaurant open that no one gives a fuck about being open. Oh Thanksgiving is a time for family? But you want to go to Burger King for breakfast, or Marie Callendar’s for a light lunch before your big family feast. So it’s OK for those people to work, because you need to stuff your face even more that day than you already planned to.

But if someone wants to go to Kmart to get Christmas gifts because they can’t afford to shop at Neiman Marcus, or they don’t have the luxury of free time to stand in lines at Best Buy to get good deals because they have to work two full-time jobs just to pay the rent…HOW DARE THEY TARNISH THE SANCTITY OF MY THANKSGIVING!!!!!

Now I don’t shop on Thanksgiving normally. And I never go to Black Friday sales. The truth is, I’m already done with my Christmas shopping. But allow me to just say a few things about all this ignorance going around about shit being open, and people having to work on Thanksgiving day:

1. Some people can’t afford to not work on holidays. If you don’t understand that, you have some serious learning to do, and it will be done off your pedestal this time.

2. Other people have had hardships, or they don’t have families, or the holidays are really tough for them – for whatever reason. So they like to work to keep their minds off things, and they do it by going to work. Only a total dickweed thinks they have the right to tell others how to cope with their life’s problems.

3. A lot of people that work on holidays want to. I might go as far as to say that everyone I know of that works on holidays, or have ever talked to working on a holiday, has said that they enjoy it and the extra money, and that they wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I would go as far as to say that.

4. Thanksgiving is celebrating the genocide of an entire nation of people anyway. And gluttony. It’s not like we’re talking about the baby Jesus here or anything, which incidentally I also don’t see people railing against stores being open on Christmas Eve or for a short time Christmas morning.

Because you’ve gotta’ get those last minute gifts, right?

In a nutshell, I think the majority of you people are privileged hypocrites.

Now we can still be friends. I promise. You don’t have to be really mad at me for saying all of this, because really I just have a much different opinion. I happen to know that my opinion is the right one, but we won’t get into that.

All we really need to do is accept that not everyone in this world is living the same life as we are. That’s it! Then we can still be friends, and wield our shared misanthropy around the Internet together. Because in accepting that not everyone in this world is living the same life as we are, we maybe stop making ignorant comments about people that work on holidays, or even that shop and eat out on your blessed Stuff Your Face With Turkey Day. So you hate Kmart for being open all day on Thanksgiving. Fine! You do that! And it’s true that a lot of people there that day will just be shopping to screw the pooch and get a good deal.

But instead of hating on the company for being open, why not turn your hatred into compassion for the employees that probably are thanking their lucky stars that Kmart is open that day. It’s an extra day they get to work and put food on the table. Instead of being such a jerk, why not drop $5 Starbucks cards off to all the employees, or embrace the needs of fast food workers to work on the holiday by stopping by on your way to your Thanksgiving feast to get a soda and just wish the workers a happy holiday.

Maybe – just maybe – then this country would be a better place. If instead of screaming from our Facebooks and Twitter pages how much we want to boycott companies and how morally wrong this or that is, we just love each other and act with everlasting compassion.

Thanksgiving