So more and more department stores are opening their doors late in the evening on Thanksgiving. Some people are bitching about this because it’s the internet and the internet is mostly bitching and Google and porn. And people bitching about how hard it is to Google good porn. But I digress.
Much of the argument against these stores being open on Thanksgiving comes from entitled, suburban, white people crying about how we must “think of the
children workers!” These poor, sad workers, yanked away from celebrating an important, if occasionally over-mythologized, moment in American history just so they can provide fuel for the machinery of capitalism. That many of these same people will probably be shopping that night is something of a given.
First off, many people seem to eat Thanksgiving dinner in the early afternoon, and that’s right and proper, extremely pretentious Slate articles notwithstanding. Eating at that time of day allows people enough time to drive the 214 or so average miles people will drive that day and lets them leave early enough to get home at a reasonable hour. By the time most of these stores open, which seem to be between 8 and 10 in the evening, Thanksgiving is usually a memory anyhow.
Second, not everyone celebrates the same holidays. There are people who don’t give a fig about Thanksgiving and find it annoying, as I do every Christmas, that when they want to go out and do something, most things are closed. Movie theaters are open basically every day, as are convenience stores, but on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and to a lesser extent, Easter, most businesses are shut down. Work does, if nothing else, give someone something to do other than sit around the house all day watching “news”, which basically boils down to “Boy, Thanksgiving travel, am I right?” mixed in with “Stores being open?! What a horrible thing!”
But third, and perhaps more importantly, some people like working on holidays. The only four holidays that I personally celebrate are New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving, and I’m usually willing to work all four given the right incentive. That incentive? Money, and buckets of it.
See, when I worked at Circle K, we got paid time-and-a-half for most holidays and, if I remember right, double-time on Thanksgiving and Christmas. That meant that instead of pulling in a mere $8 an hour, I was getting $12 – $16 an hour. When I worked at CSK/O’Reilly, I got double-time, and eventually what amounted to double-time-and-a-half working on holidays. That meant that instead of $13.50 or so an hour, I was getting $27 – $33.75 an hour.
I actively looked forward to these holidays. They were very good for me, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Check this incredibly less pretentious article from Slate.
Lastly, stop being so damn paternalistic. Most of the workers in the retail industry are adults who can decide for themselves if they are willing to work on Thanksgiving. Retailers don’t usually schedule people who actively don’t want to work on a busy shift because they know that can lead to Bad Things, which is why they give incentives like the extra pay.
It’s also very much worth remembering that we shouldn’t blame businesses for being open on days they “shouldn’t” be; the blame rests entirely with the consumers. That is one thing that the crowd who are dead-set against this practice do have right. The companies wouldn’t be open if they didn’t make money. So if you have a problem with it, just ignore the sales and deep discounts. Or, on a day that’s all about indulgence and consumption, go partake, and be secure in the fact that the employees are likely to be nicely compensated for their efforts on at least one day, if not too many others.