This day after Thanksgiving, I want to take an opportunity to rant about the retail stores that were open on Thanksgiving, with some corporations threatening to fire employees who do not work on the holiday. While the corporations that forced their employees to work on Thanksgiving are truly odious, they are not the sole bad actors in this sordid, exploitative affair. The consumers who decided that it is appropriate to patronize the stores that are maltreating their employees are just as complicit in this abuse as the corporations are. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with someone who just cannot refrain from a consumer frenzy for one single day so that the poor retail workers can celebrate the one holiday that is well-nigh universal to Americans of differing cultures and creeds?
Thankfully, there is a growing backlash against the stores that decided to open their doors on Thanksgiving. It seems that people are finally fed up about the disgusting power disparity between employers and employees. It's about time. Perhaps people have come to the realization that the underpaid, overworked retail workers are really the canary in the coalmine, and that it's not inconceivable that they may eventually face the same regressive workplace policies.
As I have written before, I believe that the American people have allowed themselves to transition from citizens to consumers over the past forty years (I chalk a lot of this up to that idiotic "government is the problem" trope- and look at all those goddamn upvotes). With stagnant wages and diminishing benefits among middle class workers, class differences between the middle class and the lower class are primarily a function of consumption patterns- the guy buying that flavored-up Starbucks coffee can kid himself that he's materially better off than his counterpart who's buying a cup-of-Joe at McDonald's.
It gets worse- with decreasing workplace protections, we are now transitioning from consumers to consumed. Don't want to knuckle under and put your life on the line to help feed the mass-consumption frenzy? Tough shit, peasant, you'll find yourself on an unemployment line.
Just say no to the whole sordid ritual... the holiday you save may be your own.
POSTSCRIPT: For the record, I worked on Thanksgiving. In fact, I wrote this post during a quiet moment at work and set it up to post later in the day. I am essential personnel, and I am a supervisor... it's my feeling that, if someone has to "take it on the chin", it's my duty to my subordinates to be that someone. I most certainly do not feel that my presence on the job on Thanksgiving is exploitative, it's merely the price I have to pay for working in an unorthodox capacity.