Christmas Eve 2011, I was working at Whole Foods Market, in the bakery. It was nearing 6 pm, and the store was doing what was called a “soft closing,” where you sorta close, but you let anyone who comes screeching up in the parking lot come in, for fear that they will write you a bad review on Yelp.
I peered over the counter, wearing my antlers as a pretend signal of good tidings, when really, I wanted to murder everyone who was shopping, including a woman on the cell phone, who was leisurely strolling through the aisles. Like it wasn’t 6pm on Christmas Eve, like simply because I was being paid an hourly wage, that I didn’t deserve to get to go to Midnight Mass with my family, sleep in, and wake up leisurely to open presents with my family.
Instead, around 6pm on Christmas 2011, I was hauling a clear bag full of old bread and bagels to the dumpster in the ran, and shivering in a chefs coat while last-minute Christmas shoppers milled about. Close to 7, I finally filled up on gas, and I’d made it to my parents’ house by 10:30 pm. On Christmas Eve. My parents were already asleep, and I only had a few hours the following day with my siblings before I had to head back for my shift in the coffee bar.
If you shop on Thanksgiving Day, you are a jerk. Plain and simple, I’m not sorry to say. I have had the unfortunate opportunity to have to work on holidays, on holiday eves, and on the day after holidays and it always sucks. Each time I had to show up at my parents’ home at an ungodly hour, or each time I left while my siblings were still sleeping or spending time with relatives, I began to resent my work, and swore that I would quit my job the next day. I never did, I needed the money while I looked for full-time work in my field, but it made me resent my job and truly hate people more than I care to admit, temporarily. The “hate” feeling returned with each holiday I had to celebrate by doling out lattes to stressed party hosts. And I really do dislike it when I feel so angry towards others – it’s not at all healthy.
“Well if you don’t like it, just make sure you ask for that day off! Target said on TV it’s only the employees who really want to work that day/night.”
First off all, no one, even the person who lives only with his or her cats, wants to bundle up so they can stand on their feet all night and serve you. It’s barely fun on a regular day, and super unfun on a chilly holiday. And that’s not exactly how it works. When I worked bakery retail, and in the coffee bar at Whole Foods, and the same went for when I worked in a restaurant for my stint in graduate school, you’d get your choice of which holiday you want off. If you get the days around Thanksgiving off, you won’t get days around Christmas off. Maybe you’ll get the days at New Years. It’s all a trade. But the choice is only which holiday you’ll work.
Please, please, please, before you leave your plates on the counter and run out on Thanksgiving night, think about the folks who are having to leave their families to ring you out. Not only did they have to leave their families, they hate you, and they’re hoping that you slip and break that flat screened television you dragged them out to purchase. The employee break room is intermittently filled with folks snacking on lame, stale holiday treats that management put out for them as an attempt to boost morale, but guess what? It isn’t working, and they’re seeing red with every e-reader you buy.
So regardless of what some of these retailers choose to do, don’t make it worth their while – avoid shopping on Thanksgiving and let them know that our families are a little more important to us than cheap electronics. That’s what shopping online is for, anyways.