Archive | November, 2013

Black Thursday? Discuss.

25 Nov

Did you miss me? Been leaving one job, starting another the next day, then opening and closing a show, and sort of writing a play in between. Sorry I’m not sorry.

Black Friday has been breathing down Thanksgiving’s neck for a while now–the 4:00 AM Doorbuster is a hard, cold (literally) reality, for better or worse.

One day?…or one hour?

That’s right, the perennial commercialism debate gets an extra jolt this year due to the fact that many big box stores will be open on Thanksgiving itself. (Yes, that happened last year too, but this year more stores are doing it this year, and at earlier hours, due to the fact that the shopping season is much shorter).

I think it stinks like gym socks that regular store employees–the ones making something nearish minimum wage–have to leave their families on the second most universal American holiday and go to work, and in sheety fluorescent-lit retail stores, no less. I’m sure the execs who made the decision to send in all those folks will be playing touch football on the lawn of their palatial estates the whole day (or have a bottle of single malt and a high class hooker to keep ’em company in the office.) Yeah I know, #snarkmuch? Seriously though, it makes me feel icky and I don’t support shopping of any kind on Thanksgiving Day.

But P has a completely different take. If employees have to go in on a holiday, why not make it worth their while by getting out there too? He says. Most of them probably volunteered to come in, plus they are likely getting time and a half. Shopping at those stores supports them and their families by putting that money (however small a cut of it), in their pocket. And, he pointed out, what about gas stations? Hospitals? If it’s such a universal holiday, you should agree that those places should be closed too.

(Full disclosure: he went to Walmart on Thanksgiving night last year.)

I concede his point. However, I am not persuaded. Not only am I unconvinced that even those who volunteer to work wouldn’t rather have a paid holiday than time and half, but shopping for sales isn’t the same thing as getting gas. It’s unnecessary, even a luxury, to purchase the Complete John Wayne box set at a discounted price–on any day, really, but especially on a holiday. But folks are doing it: more than 35 million of them last year, evidently. Look, you guys know that I am a big fan of shopping. But shouldn’t there be just one sacred moment in the year, even if it does end at 12:01 AM? It’s like people would rather buy stuff for their loved ones than actually spend an entire day with them.

I’m not alone: this Time piece advocates boycotting stores on Thanksgiving day, and brings up a point I hadn’t even thought of: if this becomes the norm, how long is it until Thanksgiving is just another day in the work week?

Shudder.

What do you think? Are you going to shop on Thanksgiving day?