My son works retail. He does his job very well. He does his job proudly. That doesn't mean that he was aching to work not just the day after Thanksgiving, but the day before and on Thanksgiving Day. Happily, we were able to spend some time together on the days leading up to the retail Armageddon, but he was missed around the dinner table, and we could feel the tension mounting as the day approached: Black Friday. In those days leading up to the event, we talked about the sad reality of naming what amounts to a celebration - sale-a-bration - Black Friday.
I looked it up: In the 1950s, shoppers would swarm Philadelphia after Thanksgiving and before the big Army-Navy game to prepare for the holidays. Police, cab drivers and anyone affected by purchasers taking over their city called the chaotic day “Black Friday” to show their disdain. And yes, I know from my training as an Arby's employee that customers are not an interruption to our business but rather the reason for our business. I also understand that businesses across the country bank on these final weeks of the calendar year to turn their ledgers from red to black. Why not just put on your big-boy pants, or big-boy blue shirt and make the best of it?
Maybe because the scariest part of free enterprise is on display in those moments when the doors fly open and the deals start pouring out. And all that crazy spills out, leading to injuries to shoppers and employees alike. There was a shooting at an Alabama mall on Thanksgiving night. One dead, two wounded. Sadly, in the age in which we find ourselves living, one doesn't need a shopping excuse for gunfire. Still, every year people are injured, and even killed, on this festival of mercantilism. Perhaps some of this angst is a result of not taking the time to reflect on those closest to us. Maybe we should be counting our blessings instead of our savings.
Just before the deluge began at the store where my son works, he tweeted this:" Like as happy as I am with time and a half and as much as I enjoy my job, being told "I'm sorry you have to work on Thanksgiving" is such a #@*@! cop out, like no you're not if you were sorry you wouldn't be here." And he could be sitting at the table with us.