By MATTHEW NASH
The leaves have all changed color and hopefully they will all fall from the respective trees before it gets too cold to rake them up. As the seasons change and we start to see the world around us change, many people begin to look around and ponder their lives and evaluate the things that they are thankful for. Some of my “friends” on Facebook are spending the month of November announcing something they are thankful for each day.
Thanksgiving is less than a week away. Next Thursday many people will all go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house and give thanks for all that they have. They’ll eat a big meal, pass out on the couch watching the Lions or the Cowboys play football. When they wake up on Friday morning most people will have forgotten everything that they thought about the day before as the hustle and bustle of the holiday season will already be in full swing in retail establishments around town.
Americans have short memories and even shorter attention spans. One day they’ll be sitting down for a feast giving thanks for all that they have and the next day they will trample their neighbor in order to get the best price on whatever the hot electronic item is this holiday season. You can put some of the blame on me for people’s behavior in the retail world because I work in retail and we have been encouraging this behavior for many years. The place where I work does not close, for anything, ever.
For those of you that walk into any retail establishment and ask the employee why they are working on Thanksgiving Day, let me give you the answer I am not allowed to say directly to customers when I am asked. First, I am not the one that makes the schedule, the person that does that is at home enjoying dinner with their family. I am required to follow the schedule or they will fire me and hire someone that will.
I am also not the one who made the decision for my store and nearly every store in the chain being open on Thanksgiving. That person works in an office building and makes quite a bit more money than I do to make decisions like what day the stores will remain open. Interestingly that guy did show up at my store a couple of years ago, the day after Thanksgiving.
The final reason I will be at work on Thanksgiving is that people will come out and shop on Thanksgiving. Some people are getting a jump on their neighbor looking for good deals. Others need to pick up something that they forgot. It’s amazing how much dog food we sell. You would think that people would notice that their dog food was getting low. There are those who run out of milk and sugar at the last minute and there aren’t any other options. Some people are sick and need something to take, or just need to pick up their medications. Then there are the people that just come to ask stupid questions like … “why are you working on Thanksgiving?” If none of these people came out on Thanksgiving, that guy in the office that makes more money than me would probably let me stay home too.
I am a thankful for the opportunity to work on Thanksgiving and while it’s not the most ideal situation, at least I have a job to go to. There are many people out there who don’t have jobs and some that don’t earn enough to cover their basic needs. I am thankful that my job pays the bills, it is not as glamorous as some might imagine, but at least I have a job.
I look around at where I am today and am beholden to those around me for all the things that I am blessed with. I am thankful for an understanding wife. She’s the one who has to spend Thanksgiving alone while I am at work. Her birthday also falls around Thanksgiving and I have to work that day too. She is supportive of me and understands what is required at my work. This holiday season will be particularly hard on both of us because it is our first as a married couple.
I am also thankful for the love of all my children. They can really be a handful at times but they know that their father loves them. I look forward to spending the holiday season with them including their dance recitals and holiday play. I know they understand that it is hard for me to spend as much time as I would like with them.
The holidays are a crazy time for many people both in and out of the retail world. Over the next six weeks take some time and pay attention to the people around you. While you may feel like you are full of the holiday spirit in your heart, do your actions reflect the way you feel? I am not saying that you need to hug everyone that you come into contact with for the rest of this year. What if you just smiled and tried to bring a little brightness into somebody’s day?
— Matthew Nash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org