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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Or maybe I'm just among the maddening whored

I’m a little uncomfortable with all the facebook posts opposing stores being open on Thanksgiving.   Each time I see one of the posts, I reflexively think “Yeah, absolutely!” But the more I think about it, the more I realize it’s not as simple as that.  I think those sentiments may have more behind them than we realize...and worse, I wonder if some of us aren’t being just a wee bit hypocritical.

I totally support the idea that Thanksgiving is for families. It’s my favorite holiday of the year. And ideally, all places of business would accommodate people who want the day off to be with their family as well as the employees who would like to work if it means they’ll get time-and-a-half or double-time.

I wonder if most of the reason we support department stores being closed on that day is it is more about seeing the crushing, madding (and maddening) hordes rampaging through various department stores at 5am to get the big bargains. I think it gives most of us the creeps and reminds us of all the things we hate most about the holidays – the materialism, the stress, the gimme gimme gimme culture.

But here are all the other thoughts that maybe people aren’t taking into account:

-         Many (most?) of the people I see on the news who make up that crushing horde are people getting seriously discounted deals on really nice gifts for their kids, that I sense would have no other way to afford such nice gifts – computers, video games, electronics of all sorts. No, none of them are crucial for day to day life (though arguably, it’s harder to be a functioning, participating member of society without a computer that works). But if there is only one way to afford the one big gift that my kid or loved one wants, I feel like I’m judging anyone who takes the one opportunity they get to buy that gift.

-         Are we wondering at some deep level if we’re missing out on some great deals?

-         I don’t know this for a fact, but I’ll bet there are some employees who don’t mind working 4 hours Thanksgiving morning and getting paid time-and-a-half or double-time and then get home by noon or early afternoon to enjoy the family meal. When I worked at a paper mill in college and then at a Wawa as my first job out of college, we all fought over who got to work on holidays so we could make extra money.

-         Maybe the most important thing to consider – if we travel that day and are running out of gas, will we stop at a gas station without guilt? If we suddenly realize we forgot the cream for our dessert coffee, will we go without rather than run to the Wawa, 7-11, or Acme?

But, arguing both sides here, when I hear about issues that affect the lowest paid and most taken advantage of employees, the conservative inside me thinks that there is also something to be said for reinforcing the idea that their job stinks and they should do something to improve their life. How many of those employees are actively looking for a better job? How many are taking night classes, or pursuing online degrees instead of watching The Voice or catching up on the latest exploits of the Reality Distraction Squirrel of the day?

On the other hand, would it really hurt those department stores to wait one more freakin’ day to open at 5am?

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