For the first time ever, I will be partaking in the Black Friday shopping. Why? Because it starts on Thursday.
I don’t wake up early unless I have to. These stores are being very nice and opening on Thursday, or midnight on Friday. I love the middle of the night. I do not love 6:00 am.
Now, I’ve seen a lot of “Boycott any store that’s open on Thursday. That’s family time!” Here’s my take on that.
I have never worked retail. Max has. I understand from friends who have that retail employers tend to be pretty demanding. However, I don’t think it’s possible that every retailer open on Thursday can be calling every employee they have into work that day. I think having all of Target’s employees in the store (for example) at one time might constitute a fire hazard in and of itself. I also think anyone who works on Thursday is being paid. In California, if an employer offers paid holidays, then the employer requires an employee to work on a paid holiday, that employee gets paid extra (essentially, double-time) or gets another day off. Even at California’s minimum wage of $8 an hour, double-time isn’t too bad, especially at this time of year.
The “family time” argument also assumes that everyone has a family with whom he or she would spend the holiday. If sitcoms are a reflection of our society, then everyone is trying to get out of spending time with their families on Thanksgiving. But seriously… there are a lot of people who wouldn’t be spending Thursday with family anyway, for any number of reasons. Maybe they’re college kids who can’t go home for the holiday. Maybe they live here and their family lives across the country. Maybe their family doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Maybe they simply don’t have any family.
My mother was a clerk at a hospital, an establishment that can never close. Someone was going to have to work the holidays. Once we got into high school, Mom started working a lot of holidays. By the time we were in college, she was working almost every holiday. She’d either opt to get extra days off in the summer or, when we were gone, to get paid double-time. For her, working on a holiday was a way to get some extra money and to deal with having an empty nest.
I do think it’s unpleasant to have to work on a holiday. But, sometimes, it happens. At least these people are being paid for their time. Starbucks is open at 6:00 am on Christmas. I know, because I’m there, picking up a huge carafe of coffee for my Dad and grandmother. (I don’t know how to make coffee; I drink tea.) I tip well. Someday, God-willing, these people will be exempt employees of some company that doesn’t require work on the holidays.
And speaking of exempt employees… I spent the summer of 2009 working 80-hour weeks, including Memorial Day and Labor Day. Did I get paid overtime? No. I was an exempt employee, expected to do whatever the company asked. I received my regular salary, which, working those hours, ended up working out to just over minimum wage.
My point? Unless you’re independently wealthy, you have to work. And if you are fortunate enough to have a job in today’s economy, that’s great. You should absolutely feel free to complain, because working for other people can be a real drag. But I’m still going to shop on Thanksgiving.