An Open Letter to Everyone Outraged That Some of Us Have to Work on Christmas
Dear Well-Meaning Sirs and Madames,
Adam Smith via Wikipedia Starbucks, Cathedral Square, Peterborough, UK
Though it was more prevalent over the Thanksgiving holidays, my Facebook newsfeed seems constantly inundated with outrage that some stores will be open on Christmas Day. Starbucks, for instance will be serving people the caffeine they need to face another political discussion across the dinner table at grandma's house. Denny's and IHOP will have hash browns ready as usual, CVS and Walgreens will be open, and those are just the national chains.
"Those poor people," I keep seeing. "They have to work on Christmas when they should be home with their families. Know what I'm going to do? I'm going to refuse to shop any place that's open on Christmas to send a message that this is unacceptable."
To which I politely would like to ask, "What the cotton-picking hell is wrong with you?"
First thing I have to point out is that there is a certain level of classism involved here. When people beat their breasts about folks having to work on Christmas or Thanksgiving, they aren't talking about nurses or police or power company workers or the folks that feed the animals at the Houston Zoo. Those people never seem to come up in the conversation even though hundreds of thousands of them at least will be punching a clock on December 25.
No, the subjects of the outrage are the clerks and fry cooks and wait staff. They're the poor slaves that are being fed to the machine of corporate greed. Can't we do something about them?
Which is really condescending. Since you're singling out this one class of workers as opposed to another you're basically saying that we're unimportant. That we can be done without for the moment. Yes, an emergency room doctor is worth more than the guy who makes sure the fries don't burn, but the reason the emergency room is still open isn't because of the worth of the staff. It's because people still manage to set themselves on fire and things like that even on Christmas day.
And people need hamburgers, too. People like the homeless who don't have a place to store and cook food on the day everything is closed. Meanwhile, if your contribution to an economic problem is to magnanimously not shop for a single day, then you really haven't offered anything of real worth. It's certainly not going to mean anything to the drug store that remains open so people can get medicine and figures that they might as well hawk sodas and chips while they're at it.
Which brings up another point that I will address with a question. Does your income ever drop because you take Christmas off? If the answer is no, then you probably don't have much in common with the people who are out there working the holiday.
Piece continues on next page