Before I went back to college and started what has now become my career in law, I worked retail for a little more than several years- starting from my mid-teens as a part-time cashier after school until my early twenties when I needed to make ends meet while I was trying to get my shit together.
By far, the worst offender in terms of treating employees like garbage was Blockbuster Video (and believe me, no one took more satisfaction in that company going bankrupt than me,) for no other reason than they were open every. single. day- including holidays. One year when I was a teenager, I was forced to work double shifts on Thanksgiving, the Friday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Eve- after my manager called out on each of those days so he could spend time with his family. When I asked for my birthday off a few weeks after New Years Day, I was told it was out of the question. Time that should have been spent with loved ones was instead spent getting called a “fucking bitch” on Christmas Day because we were out of every available copy of Jack Frost (the touching Michael Keaton one. Not the horror flick.)
The second worst retail job was at Macy’s, where my managers were not only INSANELY racist (“try to push the Macy’s charge cards on the Hispanics and Asians. They don’t speak English so they won’t know any better” - actual quote from my manager at the time,) but they also did a whole lot of nothing to stop or hinder the abuse my co-workers and I took from customers- especially on Black Friday where the store was essentially turned into a free-for-all by greedy fucks who had been camping outside the store for hours before we opened our doors so they could get 20% off of a pair of jeans.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: on Thanksgiving, I wanted to be with my family. I didn’t want to be organizing copies of “Crash” on shelves at Blockbuster or getting pushed to the floor by a woman who couldn’t wait .2 seconds for me to move out of the way of a cashmere sweater display at Macy’s. On Black Friday, I wanted to sleep off the reheated in the microwave Thanksgiving meal I had eaten at 11 p.m. the previous night after working a double shift. I didn’t want to get called a “cunt” or accused of keeping the marked down dresses hidden in the back of the store for myself (side note: the dresses in question, as I remember, were hideous.)
Those small examples of retail-around-the-holidays-experiences were YEARS ago, and it seems the Black Friday fever has only gotten worse since then. People have been camping outside of Best Buy and Target for WEEKS before Black Friday. Many stores are requiring employees to come in on Thanksgiving at 5 p.m.- which is when many people sit down to actually eat their meal. Other stores are staying open all day on Thanksgiving and aren’t closing until the Saturday after Black Friday- that is absolutely fucking insane and unnecessary. That is crazy.
I know people will continue to shop. A Tumblr rant isn’t going to change the world- so let me just say this to anyone who is heading out to try and take advantage of the sales that are going on way-too-early: have you checked the internet for whatever it is you’re trying to buy? You’d be amazed at the deals and the ease online shopping can provide for you- and you don’t even have to change out of your pajamas to do it!
If online shopping isn’t for you, then there’s also this: BE FUCKING NICE TO RETAIL EMPLOYEES. Nine times out of ten, they’re making less money than you are and are missing out on quality time with their loved ones to serve you. The least you can do is NOT trample them to death, insult them, scream at them, or be an overall horrible human being to them. YOU are the reason they’re stuck working obscene hours for even more obscenely awful pay. Your need to shop during a time that should be spent with your family and friends is sending the message to the head honchos of these companies that putting their employees through this is perfectly acceptable because you’re willing to spend your money.
I was fortunate enough to switch careers before this Black Friday shit got as out of control as it has, but my experience with working on the holidays until then was humbling as hell. I have nothing but respect for those who are sacrificing their time and their energy to be at work at an ungodly hour on a day where they should be at home, relaxing. I know how shitty it is and how awful it feels. My hearts go out to you and I tip my hat (I’m not wearing a hat, but you get the point) to you. I hope none of you get hurt by the masses, and are still able to have a decent holiday when it’s all said and done.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.