All this moaning and groaning and whining and kvetching about stores being open on Thanksgiving and what a terrible thing this is for America and how it’s proof that the terrorists have won is giving me a headache.
I’ve worked in newsrooms all my life. It’s a 24/7 business, and there’s no such thing as a “guaranteed” day off. When the pope died on a Saturday, I got into my car and hightailed it to Manhattan. Same when the space shuttle Columbia blew up. Same when Elian Gonzales was seized. When the war in Iraq started at 8:30 p.m., I turned around and went back to work. When Saddam Hussein was executed at 4 in the morning, I woke up and got to work. I sat in the stands at Yankee Stadium one October night and watched Reggie Jackson hit three home runs . . . and then, when the rest of New York was hoisting beers, I went to work.
Not to mention that I always worked on Christmas, because that’s the least a non-Christian can do. It ensured that at least one of my Christian friends could have the day off.
I’ve also worked on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, Labor Day, July 4, Memorial Day, Presidents Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Easter, Good Friday, Passover, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha, as well.
Only one day is sacred . . . Opening Day. (We’ll save that for another post.)
But I’ve worked all the others. It’s called having a job. And sometimes you have to show up because that’s what you do when you have a job.
So I’m having a real hard time seeing all this hand-wringing about how Black Friday has become Black Thursday (or Brown Thursday, as some clowns are calling it for no apparent reason whatsoever), and how people shouldn’t have to work on Thanksgiving because they have some sort of god-given right to stay home, stuff their faces, argue with family and watch football, and how cruel and heartless their employers are when they open their doors for customers on that day and tell workers they are expected to be there, too.
Don’t get me wrong; I love Thanksgiving. I love everything about it. But turning it into some sort of protected American religious holiday is wrong. Stores have a right to open, and employers have a right to insist that their workers be there. It’s how work works.
Should the employers seek volunteers? Sure. Should they make it more attractive by offering time-and-a-half, or double-time, or bonus pay? Absolutely.
But if customers are eager to come to Walmart or McDonald’s or Kmart or Wendy’s or Sears or Burger King or Target or KFC . . . then those stores aren’t opening their doors to be cruel to their employees; they’re opening because the public wants in.
If I want to go to Walmart tomorrow (which I don’t), and if Walmart wants to open its doors for me (which it does), and if you happen to work at Walmart (my sympathies) . . . then you have an obligation to your employer and your customers to do your job.
Do you have the right not to work tomorrow? Absolutely. You can stay home.
Do you have the right to keep your job if the boss insists she needs you at work? No, you don’t.
You can quit.
You probably won’t. But if you’re not going to quit your job, please quit the whining.
And if you’re one of the lucky ones who don’t have to work, please quit wailing about how the stores should be closed. They’re open because your friends and neighbors want to go shopping. That’s just how it works.
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