Black Friday Eve Isn't Oppressing the American Worker -- Get Over Yourselves!?

Rant 38

Black FridayWell, here we are. It's Thanksgiving week, and the world is up in arms once again over what's becoming known as the Black Friday creep. Or, as some would call it, Black Thursday. There's talk of boycotts on behalf of the American worker wrested from their turkey daze to sell pieces of plastic made in China dirt cheap.

America? Let's get a grip. Dialing back Black Friday to begin on the holiday itself is hardly the outrage it's being made out to be. On behalf of a family where "working the holiday" is par for the course, let me just say welcome to the club.

I couldn't help but note the irony this morning: Just above one of the Reason for the Season rants from one friend refusing to go out and shop on Black Thursday because she thought people should be home with their families was a some-e-card that said the following:

I work long hours. I wear bodily fluids that aren't mine. I work weekends and holidays. I get screamed at and have my hands in other people's orifices. Tell me again how hard you work?

Not surprisingly, that was posted by a maternity nurse. Because, of course, babies don't stop coming on Thanksgiving.

In fact, America does not stop functioning on Thanksgiving. And because we all depend on the conveniences we are so lucky to have in this great nation, that means people work on holidays. A lot of them.

I was raised in a household with two working parents. My mother was a nurse. There were holidays she worked, and some holidays where she was lucky enough to have someone else cover her shift. My father, the self-employed refrigeration and air-conditioning contractor, was not so lucky.

There was no one to cover for him. If he didn't go when the call came, he didn't get paid. If he didn't get paid, that was that much less money to buy groceries and clothing for his two children.

Today I understand even more why my parents left to work on the holidays because my husband does the same. We haven't had a New Year's together in years. He works the holiday. Every. Single. Year.

When the rest of the staff at his company gets an early dismissal for a holiday, he is stuck behind because -- contrary to what many believe -- computers do not run themselves. And if there's a problem in the computer room on Thanksgiving Day, guess who leaves his wife and child to drive into town and deal with it?

It's happened more than once. And on other holidays too.

Our family is not alone. We are there with the cops and firefighters, the nurses and doctors, the dairy farmers and the emergency gas man. We are there with the convenience store clerks who ring up your gas purchase as you drive over the river and through the woods. We are there with the waiters and waitresses serving turkey and stuffing to folks who just didn't feel like cooking this year.

Do I understand why moving to Black Friday to Thursday seems like an affront to American values? Sure! It's sad that people are so caught up in shopping that we need an extra day to do it. Materialism is hardly our best quality, folks.

And yet, what does it say about us that for years we have taken for granted all the other people who work on holidays, that we have enjoyed the fruits of their labors as if it's "no big deal" because, hey, it's great that they make our lives easier? What does it say about the value we put on those people and their families?

One might say that we don't "need" to go out shopping on the holiday. They'd be right. But then, does one "need" to go out to eat? Couldn't the waiters and chefs stay home? Couldn't moms home birth so maternity nurses could be with their families? Couldn't we plan ahead and fill the gas tank on Wednesday?

We could do all of these things, but we don't want to. We are a country that depends on give and take. We are a country where people work to provide conveniences for others. In return they are paid a wage, which is spent in the economy. They spend on conveniences. They enable this whole country to keep on spinning.

I'll say it straight out: it sucks to have someone in your family work on a holiday. It's a pain in the butt to reschedule family meals. It's a hassle when your husband up and leaves when you could use an extra hand to stir the cheese sauce for the cauliflower.

But the benefits are pretty darn good. The mortgage is paid. So is the cable bill so he can call up that DVR'd football game. We have food to eat this Thanksgiving, and money to spend on holiday shopping. We are blessed, and I'm thankful for that this holiday. I'm thankful that my husband has a job where he has to work the occasional holiday. It's better than having no job at all.

Will you take advantage of the Black Friday creep or are you boycotting?


Image via jbhthescots/Flickr

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hello... hellokd87

I completely agree with the article. One thing that bothers me is that people are acting as if this wasn't in their contract when they accepted the job to begin with. Unless you live under a rock or are totally oblivious to the world around you, you should know that if you work for a chain retailer YOU WILL be expected to work a holiday. ESPECIALLY one of the biggest shopping days of the year. My aunt has to work all day Thursday and did she complain? No. She knew what she was getting into when she accepted the job. Granted it's not a prestigious nurse or civil worker position, but she takes pride that she at least HAS a job. My dad has had to work holidays and while we missed his presence at the dinner table, we knew he was getting paid overtime so that we could have a better life. It's one thing to work for greed, for the love of money and complain about working on holidays. But it's a different story when you're working to put food on the table and provide for your family.

EarlG... EarlGrayHot

When ypou become a nurse you know there will be times you can't be home with family.  Or a computer tech as this nurse's hubby, who is a professional and knew there would be such challeges when each of you got into your desired fields.


But it's different for those who are in retail sales largelybecause it's ajob and it is NOT life's calling.  These people usually work long hours for little pay and they DID NOT sign up for this.  They look forward to those few days when they are off the clock and can be home with family and friends.  It is these people for whom I feel sorry when corporate greed robs them of their holiday.  I haven't shopped in years on Black Friday because people are rude and it's a rat race and I'd certainly not want to ruin my T-day evening by going out late on the holiday itself.  I think anyone who works in retail sales on the holiday itself should be offered a big bonus or allowed to deline when asked to work.  Let the managers work if it's so important.  It's not that people don't apprciate nurses or anyone else, its that for too many, it's not a calling but just a way to put food on the table and those folks should get the whole day off if they choose.

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

Poor poor people, having to *gasp* work!?!

Many companies pay extra to have people work those extra times frames or hours, it isn't like they aren't being compensated for their time. Personally, I remember being in college and having it both ways- I had to work one year on Thanksgiving so we didn't get to travel home, but I needed the money. The next year I was working in another store that closed on Thanksgiving... shorting me a normal days worth or work and well, I needed the pay.

I have no sympathy for people that have to do their jobs. My husband gets called all hours of the night and even while on vacation for his job... it happens, deal with it. And, I'll be there some point in the day picking up some deals, but I don't do the crazy midnight or 5 am stuff. Nothing's worth getting up that early for! haha

Megan Lee

My dad had to work on Christmas a few times because he works at a casino.
So all the greedy old folks or people who don't have anything better to do could go gamble...
He works in maintenence ...
That's the difference between nurses and people like him...
Babies may not stop coming on holidays, but for people who work for things like OLG, or retail ,,,There's no reason they shouldn't have time off.
You chose to be something like a nurse or a doctor, you know that's a life consuming job, but working at wally world?  I think not.

tbruc... tbrucemom

Some people do HAVE to work on Thanksgiving - doctors, nurses, policemen, firemen, etc.  Walmart employees DO NOT have to work on Thanksgiving, their company is just being greedy. However, I'm not going to boycott the companies that are open on Thanksgiving. They are private organizations and can do what they want and their employees can choose to work for them or elsewhere. I don't understand how people want to leave their families to go shopping though, but of course I don't even shop on Black Friday because I don't have the patience and there's nothing I want bad enough to deal with the crowds and parking.

nonmember avatar M

Just so you know, the people who have to work holidays are usually part-timers (or who the business owners keep as part timers even though they basically work full time hours) who don't even get holiday pay. So they have to miss out on the holiday for their same probably minimum wage pay they always get.

Sara Haxton

When you go into retail, you are there to sell and make money for the company that hired you.  If that means working on a holiday then so be it. I work at a Walmart Super Center.  We knew going in that we would be working that Thursday, we sell food, as well as everything else.  We also get holiday pay on top of our regular pay, and at least at my store we get a catered dinner.  So cry me a river, and grow the hell up. Be thankful you have a job, a home, food to eat, and clothes on your back, there are many out there not so lucky.


A lot of the gripe coming from Target workers is because it was 1 of the 3 holidays that the store was closed,so now you only get 2.So that wasn't what they signed up for.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Most people working retail did not sign up to work on thanksgiving. It's only in the last couple of years that stores have started opening on Thursday night. The first year I looked at Black Friday ads the stores were open 5am and it's just been creeping earlier and earlier. Is there any need to go buy a new blender at 8pm when you can wait till midnight? I don't think so.

jrl90 jrl90

They should be grateful they even have a job in this tough econonmy. It's not like the're being asked to work all day most places don't open until late thanksgiving night. Even if they are tough cookies. I was deployed to iraq a couple thanksgivings ago and didn't get to see my family at all nor did i get a nice home cooked thanksgiving meal. It's one freaking day people if it bothers you that much quit your job.

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