Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen and heard a lot of criticism aimed at retailers (like Kmart, Toys “R” Us, and others) who will be open for business on Thanksgiving. Many people find this horribly offensive and have taken Facebook pledges not to shop on Thanksgiving or to completely boycott stores that are open today.
I understand where they are coming from. Thanksgiving is a holiday where families come together to express their love and appreciation for the blessings they have. Few people want to miss out on that time together – especially to work a cash register for $8.75 an hour. Having stores open on Thanksgiving is a textbook example of corporate greed trumping what the employees want.
But the pledges and boycotts are a bunch of hypocritical crap. No matter how much we believe otherwise, people are going to have to work on Thanksgiving (and other holidays, for that matter).
Obviously, there are the people in jobs that are essential to a safe and civilized society: police, fire, doctors, nurses, EMTs, snow plow drivers, and our military men and women serving our country. I don’t see anybody pledging not to dial 911 today because we believe Gladys should be home with her family, so let’s raise a turkey leg in honor of those who simply must work today.
Beyond those core professions, there is another layer of workers in transportation jobs who will be clocking in today. It’s probably not necessary to have airplanes flying, subways and taxis running, or even have somebody working at that gas station along the interstate – but let’s face it, it sure as hell makes our lives easier. There are a lot of people who need to work so you can catch that flight back home, or even pay for your unleaded. But nobody is proposing that we all stay home on Thanksgiving.
Let’s dig deeper. You’ve pledged to not shop on Thanksgiving. You vow that you will spend the day enjoying the company of family. Good for you. But…what is that in the background? Is part of your family tradition to watch one of the multiple NFL games being played today? Were you listening to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on while you were getting the turkey in the oven?
Now, we start to get into the true hypocrisy. Where is the outrage over the people who have to work so we can have TV programming to watch? Where is the protest for the reporters, cameramen, sound engineers, and on-air talent? Or for the ushers, ticket takers, concession stand workers, and beer vendors at the football games? Those folks have to work just as hard as the retail clerk at Wal-Mart, deal with the same amount of rude jerks, and will spend just as much time away from their families as the guy working retail. But I guarantee that nobody will turn off the game or the parade because they “believe in family”.
I realize there are hundreds of other businesses and professions that I’ve omitted but the point is still the same: where is the social media uproar? Why do we care so much about people being pulled away from their families to work a crappy retail job, but not the crappy job parking cars at AT&T Stadium in Dallas or lugging sodas around Ford Field in Detroit? Is it because some of us never had any desire to hit the stores on Thanksgiving anyway – or couldn’t go because you were stuck spending the day with your in-laws? Nah, I’m sure that has nothing to do with it.
So if you wan to do some Christmas shopping or Black Friday bargain hunting today, be my guest. I won’t judge. Just remember who has your back this Christmas.