For the past couple years on social media, there’s been an anti-consumerism outcry of epic proportions. You know what I’m talking about: friends, fans and followers who, each year around this time, curse the day Walmart decided to open its doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night instead of midnight for its Black Friday sale.
That change seems like it happened ages ago, but it actually only happened for the first time in 2012. If you fancy yourself a retail historian, you’ll remember that Thanksgiving as the one that threw shoppers and homebodies alike into a collective tizzy.
On one side of the fence, there’s a faction eager to shop early. It gets them out of the house after the dishes are done — while everybody else is enjoying their tryptophan-induced coma — and the jump means an earlier end time, so in an ideal world they can be home before midnight with a crossed-off Christmas list, ready to enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep after slaving away in the kitchen all day.
On the other side, there are the traditionalists, otherwise known as The Haters.
These are the torchbearers who will publicly shame and vilify anybody even remotely considering participating in the pre-Midnight Madness celebration of “greedy and corrupt corporations in the name of the Almighty Dollar” — all because retail workers should be home with their families. If you so much as hint at shopping before 6 a.m. Friday morning, you’re dead to them. (Or at least unfriended, which is pretty much the same thing these days.)
In an ironic twist, however, I’ve noticed that most people expressing disdain about how, as a nation, we’re spiraling out. of. control. just so happen to have cozy non-retail jobs not requiring them to go into work until — gasp! — Monday, which provides them plenty of time to shop online and throughout the weekend.
There’s one inherent flaw in the argument that American consumerism has become more important than our long-established observation of American imperialism, however: It’s not just retail employees who work on Thanksgiving. In fact, nearly 25% of Americans are required to work on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Day.
Where’s the sympathy for them?
If some people didn’t have to work on Thanksgiving, we wouldn’t be able to half-hear the Macy’s Parade or our favorite football games over Uncle Bud’s next-level, code-red sleep apnea.
Uncle Bud might not even be at the house if he wasn’t able to fill up his gas tank on the way. Thank god for that Shell attendant. But maybe gas-pumpers don’t have families. Who knows?
If nobody had to work on this gluttonous holiday of culinary excess, we wouldn’t be able to run to the corner store to get that extra can of cranberry sauce your sister will forget. If we catch our homes on fire trying to Guy Fieri a 10-pound frozen Butterball in a vat of boiling oil, who will save the day? One person’s utter stupidity is another’s bread and butter. And if your idiot brother slices his finger open trying to carve the bird, who will stitch him back up so he doesn’t bleed all over the stuffing?
If you’ve actually had a day like this, you’ll probably want a break from family — and a few shots as the night winds down. But if nobody “should be working” today, your dependency on alcohol as liquid therapy can’t get its fix at the bar. You’ll just have to sneak sips in the closet while avoiding your mother-in-law, like last year.
Kids getting antsy? Need them out the house before you murder your nieces and nephews like an Amityville horror? Give ’em a few bucks and send them to the cinema. Oh, that’s right — nothing should be open because modern-day puritans have decided 12 hours isn’t enough time to binge eat all day and hurry-up the early onset of Type 2 diabetes.
Sarcasm aside, it’s rare that these self-righteous social media attention-seekers who deplore the idea of early-evening Thanksgiving shopping ever mention the hardest-working people of them all — the men and women of our Armed Forces who are fighting on the front lines of a godforsaken desert, who don’t receive much thanks and who probably aren’t incredibly thankful right now to be hunting down terrorists instead of spending the holiday with their families.
God forbid somebody has to stand behind a register and remove the security tags from a pair of clearance slippers, though. Because that — that is unacceptable and un-American.
If I haven’t made my point clear enough, here it is without all that mockery and derision: If somebody doesn’t want to work retail on Thanksgiving, they don’t have to work retail on Thanksgiving. Believe it or not, they don’t have to work retail at all.
That’s one of the benefits of our capitalist society, in fact. Our government doesn’t tell us which jobs to take, and it doesn’t decide for us which jobs we should quit. If you’re someone who works retail on Thanksgiving and you don’t like it, change it. Use everything you hate most about that job as motivation to get a new one.
Not as easy done as it is said, I agree.
But consider this anecdote: Back in the day I made offensive pay while working even more offensive hours at a shitty hotel (I got held up at gunpoint at that job, too), which gave me enough incentive to tell my stingy bastard of a boss to take the job and shove it.
As for all the social media zealots out there not working on Thanksgiving but throwing their arms in the air at the thought of the mall opening its doors before the annual airing of The Wizard of Oz starts recording on the DVR — really, what’s it to you?
Some people actually enjoy working on holidays to avoid the loneliness of Thanksgiving that many experience. Others want to earn a few extra bucks to buy more gifts, so they don’t mind it either.
Sit down and eat your pie, Shelby. Because no matter how hard you rant and rave about the demise of values and family and whatever else is on your soapbox today, Santa Claus is still comin’ to town.
And he’s getting started early this year.