As many of you already know, before I graduated from college and got a real job, I worked for Walmart.
It was an experience I did not enjoy.
That experience gave me a lot of reasons for telling people that a job at Walmart is a last resort, bottom of the barrel, what-you-do-when-you-can’t-pay-your-rent-and-have-absolutely-no-other-options kind of career choice. One of the biggies, believe it or not, is the way they schedule absolutely every single employee to work on Thanksgiving Day.
When I worked at Walmart, I was not available to work on Thursdays. I was a part time employee and, as a student, I had arranged my life so that I worked on Friday evening and on Saturday and Sunday afternoon/evening. Those were the only times I was available. They scheduled me to work on Thanksgiving and I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t work on Thursdays. I don’t care if it’s Thanksgiving, I’m not available to work on Thanksgiving.”
They didn’t care. They scheduled me anyway. I called out. They fired me.
Of course, they said it was because I had so many absences that one more was just the straw that broke the HR back. And that was true, too. But the fact is that they scheduled me to work on a day that I wasn’t available to work and then, when I didn’t work that day, they fired me.
Such is the world of a Walmart employee.
What made all this much worse for me is that Thanksgiving is actually my favorite of the year-end holidays.
That makes absolutely no sense, right? The holiday that involves the most work for the household-person-who-cooks (which would be me) is my favorite holiday? Believe me, I cannot explain it and I have tried.
Is it the meal? We Americans celebrate everything with a meal.
Is it the football? But there’s football on New Year’s Day, too, and that gets me no warm fuzzies.
Is it the family gathering? Somehow I doubt it, since we’re usually immediate family on Thanksgiving and that’s an everyday thing.
Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above plus the time of year. I like late fall/winter, when we retreat into our toasty, cozy homes and indulge in a hazy orgy of warmness and hearth fire gold glowingness and hot chocolate. When you take that and add in the food and the football and the family — oh, and did I mention the booze? — then what’s not to like about Thanksgiving?
Not to mention that it hasn’t been totally ruined by the crass commercialism that is Christmas in America.
So, between my feelings about Thanksgiving and my prior experience with Walmart, no doubt you are not even the tiniest bit surprised that (a) I do not do Black Friday at all, never mind leaving my lovely Thanksgiving celebration to go Christmas shopping (of all the activities that I absolutely hate), and (b) when I do get around to the Christmas shopping, I do not shop at Walmart if I can possibly help it.
If I can possibly help it is a necessary qualifier because there are not very many options where I live unless I’m willing to do over 100 miles of driving round-trip, which I am not.
Anyway, ThinkProgress.org has done us all the favor of publishing The Progressive Guide to Holiday Shopping, in which they let us know of the Neanderthal organizations that are requiring employees to work on Thanksgiving to get an early start on Black Friday (with my apologies to Neanderthals), as well as those outfits that have stated as a matter of corporate PR that they are not opening on Thanksgiving specifically because they feel their folks should be able to enjoy the holiday with their loved ones.
And here they are. Group A (as in Avaricious Asses):
And Group B (as in Benevolent Bosses):
Unlike, say, members of Congress, who get elected once every two, four or six years, we consumers can vote with our feet and our wallets every day of the year when it comes to retail corporations. Think about that while you’re making your list and checking it twice.
Ponder, too, how you would feel if you had to choose between celebrating Thanksgiving with your family or being able to feed them next week, and what you think about any company that forces that choice on their employees.
And then, after you’ve indulged in all that thinking … I sincerely hope you’ll join me in doing the right thing.
That’s how we become one more thing for our neighbors to be thankful for.