Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Thanksgiving is for the Chosen Few Now

This was bugging the shit out of me last night. As most things that come up on Facebook do.

There was a click-bait local news article, asking people to comment on the fact that Kmart is going to be open on Thanksgiving Night this year. Which means that instead of Black Friday -- already something I find wholly distasteful -- we now have Black Thursday.

A couple of things that get me riled up about this, the first, and not least of which is the fact that people are shopping on Thanksgiving. I understand Black Friday, as stupid as I think it is. It's become this kind of tradition for some people, to have Thanksgiving dinner, then get up obscenely early (or stay up all night) to get a bunch of deals with a bunch of other thrifty psychopaths.

I don't like it, but I get it.

Thanksgiving is a whole other kettle of fish. Whereas Black Friday unofficially (perhaps officially?) marks the transition from not-Christmas season into Christmas Season, Thanksgiving should be exempt. Why do we let Christmas Season horn in on Thanksgiving, which is one fucking day of the year, and (in my estimation) a superior holiday. Christmas gets a goddamn month, it can wait another 12 hours before it gets started.

I am all about a thriving, robust economy, but are people's lives that empty that they can't even enjoy one Thanksgiving evening at home with their families (or perhaps out with their friends at a pub), and instead have to hurry away the holiday? As of the day after Thanksgiving, you will be hearing nothing but Christmas Songs, and seeing nothing but Santas, elves, snowmen and the like for a solid month.


But some people have correctly -- if extremely short-sightedly -- pointed out that it's a free country, and people can choose to either go shopping or stay home if they want to on Thanksgiving night. Totally true and totally valid, except for one thing: that freedom of choice is not afforded to the millions of retail workers who are forced by their employers to have "all hands on deck" for such a busy shopping season.

Moreso than people choosing to waste precious hours with their families, the reactions to this are what I've become offended infuriated by. And I will give you a little spoiler alert: they are all bullshit, and none of them will ever convince me that it's okay.

Some people say things like "If you don't like it, get out of retail!" Number one: fuck you. Number two: seriously? Number three: I hope either you or someone in your family has to work on Black Thanksgiving because they work retail, so you understand why it's such a burden on those who do.

Just to clarify: I'm not including in this the kinds of jobs where we actually need people to be working, like doctors, cops, firefighters, etc. It's not fair, but at least there is some justification to it. I'm narrowing this down to greedy corporations fucking over working families while their CEOs enjoy turkey and cranberries in their large houses.

Also, if you're going to play the "why don't you get a better job?!?!" card, there are a few things you should understand ...

  • One: some people actually like working retail, just like you like your job. But you don't want to work on Thanksgiving either do you, asshole?
  • Two: have you been paying attention to the news at all for the last 5 years? Not a ton of pret-a-porter jobs out there up for grabs. If you don't understand how a functioning economy works, you should probably just zip it.
  • Three: if you are really the kind of person that says "why don't you get a better job?" then oh my lord, go FUCK yourself. I don't know why I am friends with these people in the first place. (Note: these people are not "elitists" either; they are people who say "Wole-Marts" and watch Two and a Half Men. Where any of them get off looking down at other people is way beyond me.)

Are we really going to start living in a country where we separate people who get to celebrate holidays into the Retailers and the Non-retailers? Is this the country I grew up in? Is the country I want to live in? Shit, I have to work the day after Thanksgiving, and I'm really not happy about it. But at least I get a few very precious hours with my family before I have to drive an hour from my parents' house back to work.

Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday. (Yes, you can argue the merits of its beginnings and all the subtext related to Native Americans, but I'm not here to fight that battle today.) And yet, we have people -- many of whom call themselves "conservatives" but are just fake-ass contrarians -- who harp all day about the importance of "family," "family values," "the family unit," and any other empty buzzword you can think of, but almost defiantly support taking people away from their families on the one sacred American day of the year.

So here is what I propose: a federal law. (Yes, a fucking law, you Libertarian fucks.) And the law states thusly:

  1. Any person who is forced to work at any time on Thanksgiving is exempt from working on Black Friday. So if you work for one hour on Thursday, you get Friday off if you want it. Period. If a person chooses to work Thanksgiving AND Friday, they will be paid time-and-a-half for the Friday shift.
  2. Any person who is forced to work on Thanksgiving will be paid at double-time for the first eight hours worked, and triple-time for each hour after that. Since this is a blatant money-grab by these stores, let's spreads that wealth around, eh, Joe the Plumber?
  3. So-called "Black Thursday" cannot and will not call employees into work until 8pm, and stores may not open until 9pm. That gives employees an hour to get to the store and do prep work, and gives shoppers three full hours of precious shopping time before midnight.
  4. Any breakage of these rules by management will result in a fine up to $10,000 (payable to a food bank) and up to three months in jail. Any manager who knowingly breaks any of these rules will be subject to this penalty, going up the chain of command, including any executives who sign off on it.
It's funny that all the people who have decried a War on Christmas, the people who are usually the most flag-wavingly patriotic of all, don't give a rip about the War on Thanksgiving, the most American holiday of them all. If we can't find a way to let everyone -- including those who work at retail stores -- celebrate Thanksgiving Day, then the country I grew up in ceases to exist as I knew it.