Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Shadowy turkeys

Sorry for the late blogging; I've been busy, and no, it's not with National Novel Writing Month, because I never even start the day's novel writing until after I've written the day's blog post. :)

But I'm not too busy to be outraged by this, from Detroit:

A handful of retailers recently announced they would open late on Thanksgiving Thursday for Black Friday shoppers, but serious bargain shoppers just landed the biggest fish of them all: Walmart.

Opening the pages of its Black Friday ads for Facebook and Twitter fans, Walmart announced it will open earlier than ever before — at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving — for hardcore shoppers. So if you’re looking to save on electronics and toys, prepare to push away from the dinner table and hit the road.

Also opening early, at midnight on Thanksgiving, are Target, Macy’s and Kohl’s. Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills will open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving while Tanger Outlets in West Branch and Howell open at 10 p.m.
I'm glad to know that retail workers are fighting back, and I fully support their efforts:
As more retailers try to turn Thanksgiving Thursday into Black Friday — some employees are fighting back.

More than 80,000 people signed an online petition on change.org asking retail giant Target to reverse its decision to open its doors on Thanksgiving Day — and allow workers to spend the holiday with family and friends. [...]

The campaign was launched by Anthony Hardwick, a Target employee from Omaha, Nebraska, following news that the company’s management had moved the standard Black Friday opening time from 5 a.m. on Friday to midnight on Thanksgiving. The new opening time will require employees to arrive at work by 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

“All Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones on Thanksgiving,” said Hardwick, who works as a part-time parking attendant at a Target store in Omaha, in a press release from change.org. ”With the midnight opening, employees like myself will have to leave for work right in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. We don’t mind hard work, but cutting into our holidays is a step too far.”

“If Target doesn’t reverse its decision and allow associates to spend Thanksgiving holidays with their family, they might suffer from a fast-growing consumer backlash,” Hardwick added.

Will they? After Target, Macy’s, Best Buy and Kohl’s announced plan to open at midnight on Thanksgiving – the biggest fish of them all — Walmart — decided to go even further and open at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Think about that: employees at Walmart might have to be at work by eight or nine p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to get ready for the big Black Friday rush (or should we start calling it Black Thursday, and decorate for the holiday with shadowy turkeys or something?) That means they can't linger at the Thanksgiving table, they can't stick around for a late dessert and coffee when all that turkey-induced tryptophan wears off, they can't travel over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house (unless Grandmother lives close to the shopping centers); in a word, they can't enjoy a whole day off on Thanksgiving Day. Are the descendents of Ebeneezer Scrooge lurking in the corporate offices of Walmart, Target, Macy's, Best Buy and Kohl's?

Look: I know perfectly well that lots of people have to work on Thanksgiving, and on other holidays as well--police officers, firefighters, doctors and nurses, military personnel, hotel workers, pharmacy technicians, even some restaurant workers (because not everyone has family to go to, and because all the other workers I listed above might well need a cup of coffee and a sandwich to get through the dreary work hours). But we know that those people are at work for really good reasons: to keep people safe, to help those in need, to care for the sick and the hurt, to attend to the real and basic needs of travelers and others, all of which are acts of charity.

But forcing retail store workers, many of them paid only minimum wage, to leave their families during the Thanksgiving feast so they can prepare to be trampled even earlier than usual by bargain-crazed lunatics drunk on consumption and filled with greed, competitiveness, and a level of hostility usually seen only on the battlefield doesn't even begin to be justifiable on the grounds of charity or human decency. In fact, it's just the opposite; it's a decision by the multinationalist corporate owners to pander to the worst qualities of present-day Americans--and if they were doing it on purpose to hasten America's downfall they could hardly have planned a better strategy.

In fact, I'm pretty sure our multinationalists would like to do away with the whole notion of pausing for a day in November to give thanks with our families for the blessings of liberty and life in this nation, because for one whole day people aren't out there putting themselves first, indulging in mindless shopping and spending, propping up our consumer economy with selfish and thoughtless consumption; instead, they are, mostly, enjoying a home-cooked meal with family and friends, and remembering that life is about more than acquisition. Which makes the whole day a shameful waste, from the perspectives of the presidents and CEOs of the companies listed in the article.

And I, for one, won't be shopping for Christmas gifts at any of those stores this Christmas. Because life is about more than acquisition, and the shadowy turkeys who want us to forget that don't deserve a dime of my money.


Geoff G. said...

I dunno...employees asking for time off on holidays to spend with family? Sounds like one of those terrible union-sponsored things getting in the way of progress and commerce again.

Anonymous said...

This is sad. But if people go and shop, then I don't blame the stores, I blame the people. They are just giving the people what they want.

Ann Marie

JMB said...

I think our holidays are slowly eroding to commerce. Do these workers get over time for working on a holiday? That may explain why people would volunteer to work a shift on Thanksgiving. There are also lots of people out there that don't have families to go to. I think back when I worked at a hotel in NYC and many of the European interns would work holidays because they had no place to go.

I just choose not to participate in Thanksgiving Day shopping, or Black Friday shopping. Leftovers are much more appealing to me!

Nicole Stallworth said...

I absolutely blame the stores. Erin nailed it when she said they are pandering to our worst qualities. Time to patronize businesses that remember what it means to be human.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why multi-nationalists were mentioned, but working in healthcare all these years, as a service industry, someone has to do the dirty work. We had the opportunity to trade off covering for holidays. The little paper I found in a Cracker Jack box many years speaks mentioned, 'if someone gets something for nothing, then someone got nothing for something'; no free lunch. If retailers were not open midnight after Thanksgiving, there would not be a demand to be open at that time. Silly cause and effect, that.
When we visited relatives in Chicago during Thanksgiving holidays it was fun to watch the department store window displays, but I never thought of going in shops, except for hot chocolate or Russian tea.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Although there are times when it would inconvenience me, I favor all non-essential businesses shutting down for the holidays. Period. We might even be able to make it a law, under the same "secular purpose" argument that saved the constitutionality of Maryland's "blue laws" in the 1960s (since repealed).

There are MANY essentials. SOME pharmacies need to be open, as do hospitals. Employers could do better at rotating those responsibilities so every employee gets SOME holidays at home each year.

Having relied on the local bus system to get around for many years, I appreciate that drivers worked on Christmas and Thanksgiving, so I could get to friends' homes -- and generally thanked the drivers for it.

As a paratransit driver, I worked many holidays when nursing homes and group homes emptied out with residents going home for dinner with family. My employer did a lousy job of fair distribution and advance notice, but on principle, I didn't begrudge the passengers. Being single made it easier for me.

I generally don't shop on Black Friday either, so I can't offer myself as a paradigm for the American consumer. It is the stores's fault for pandering, but if customers show up, then the stores will do what pays.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it but I recently re-entered the workforce after a very long hiatus and I'm now an employee of Wal-mart. I have no idea if any locations in other states are closed on Thanksgiving Day, but mine certainly isn't. So, my husband and I are planning on eating our Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday and visiting with family otherwise I'd have to have turkey at 9am or 8pm on Thursday.

Happy Thanksgiving Erin! :)

ElizabethK said...

When I opened up this year's day planner (soon to be last years!) I noticed that Black Friday now is listed AS A HOLIDAY. And it makes sense, doesn't it? A nation that has made the economy its god and consumerism its ritualistic practice should make a holiday of the biggest shopping day of the year, I suppose. I love to shop, but I never go on Black Friday anyway. I think it would be great if everyone stayed home--but they won't, the stores will make a bundle, and that will be that. But I agree that it's terrible.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Ambrose Bierce, in his "Devil's Dictionary," defined MAMMON as "the god of the world's leading religion. His chief temple is in the holy city of New York."

Perhaps Occupy Wall Street should call for a nationwide series of holiday sit-ins at stores that profane the extra day of rest and fellowship by daring to open for business.

(Elizabeth -- nice to have something to agree with you about).