Shopping Is Hardly an “Essential Service”
As a former newsroom copy editor, I know people not only have to work crappy hours on Black Friday, but some have to work on Thanksgiving Day itself. I had to. And if you’ve ever listened to a scanner, you know that policemen, firemen, hospital workers and other necessary services must continue to be staffed, because fires and injuries don’t take a break for the holidays.
But those are “necessary services.” And even arguably nonessential news services — while understanding their timelessly “daily” stigma demands some sort of presence — work with skeleton crews to minimize the number of employees affected, and they finagle production schedules to make the day’s hours more palatable.
Buying a 72-inch TV for $600, while exciting, is wholly optional. Shoppers get to a store at 5 a.m. in hopes of being first in line for the 6 a.m. “doorbuster” deals, knowing full-well the majority of the advertised deals can be had throughout the rest of the season. That shouldn’t be interpreted to meaning shoppers want doors to open at 5 a.m. It means consumers are doing whatever they can to buy more and spend less. Again, that bad economy.
Retail workers, who have been caught in this tail-wagging-the-dog crossfire, have a legitimate gripe. Thanksgiving is one of the rare national days off in a country that — despite the stereotypical perception — works its hands to the bone. It’s further distinguished as a gathering holiday. For many, it’s one of the few times each year people can visit with many of their relatives and friends at once.
People begrudging these workers a fair chance to observe the holiday because they want to head out at 3 a.m. for a $5 Norelco shouldn’t just reassess their idea of a good night’s sleep, but their life in general.
But even those unemployed workers with an ax to grind against these protests should consider two things: First, that those willing to work on Thanksgiving don’t necessarily have a better work ethic than those petitioning. It’s merely a regrettable reflection of a greater state of desperation. And second, if you hope that through tireless work you eventually can provide and later prosper, or if working on holidays becomes the norm for every industry, when do you plan on enjoying the fruits of your labor?
Thanksgiving is important both for what it represents and how we spend it. Let everyone enjoy it, and save the Target parking-lot fights for sunrise.
As of this writing, Kyle Woodley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks. To support these workers (and to support getting up at a reasonable hour), sign Target’s petition here and/or Best Buy’s petition here.