Food for Thought Friday: Black Friday and Thanksgiving day shopping
For anyone who does not live in the United States, every fourth Thursday of November, we have this holiday called Thanksgiving which is based in some pretty sketchy historical details. [TL;DR: The very first Thanksgiving dinner may have been a group of Pilgrims and Indians sitting down to a happy feast, but after that, Puritans attempting to escape religious persecution in England came to Massachusetts and took the land that belonged to the Wampanoag nation and also killed them with smallpox]
I don’t know why it’s the fourth Thursday of November, but I thought it was the last Thursday until one year, November had 5 Thursdays and it wasn’t the last one.
Anyway. Over the years, people have largely grown disillusioned with the “Pilgrim and Indian” notion of Thanksgiving, because, you know, it’s awful. [Like Columbus Day. Also awful.] And Thanksgiving has kind of grown into something less about History and more about spending time with friends and/or family and being thankful for what we have. Which is great. It’s a great way to be more mindful in your life, and something that we should definitely do more of [thus the birth of the #ThankfulThursday hashtag in recent years].
But also in recent years, this whole concept of “Black Friday” has started to overshadow Thanksgiving. Which is not so good.
In a nutshell: Black Friday, or the Friday after Thanksgiving (so the fourth Friday in November) is the “official” start of the holiday shopping season [not sure how that works because I definitely do not wait until a month before Christmas, the winter holiday I happen to celebrate, to start shopping]. It is a day when humans venture out into the world of retail shops to buy everything they want to give their loved ones for the winter holidays. There’s even a website about Black Friday because it’s so big now. The “black” in black Friday refers to the fact that the stores supposedly record losses in red, and gains in black ink or something silly like that.
And on Black Friday, stores offer super deals for things that people want to buy for the holidays, like, toys and electronics and stuff. And usually stores that participate also open early to let crazy shoppers who want to get out of bed at 3:00 in gosh-darn morning in for these deals and extra-super-special deals called “doorbusters” [because these people are busting down the doors–oh, you’re closed, Target? NOT FOR ME, SON]
Anyway, over the past few years (lookin’ at you, 2013, you started this) large retailers have been stepping it up a notch (or fifteen) by opening EVEN EARLIER than Friday, like, Thursday night, or sometimes Wednesday. And, of course, this is a problem when Thursday is supposed to be a holiday about spending time with friends and family and eating large quantities of turkey or not-turkey and stuffing and other such holiday fare.
So, long story short, super-stores like Walmart and Target and all those big-name retailers we love (or love to hate) have been opening on Thanksgiving.
Which wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that when they open on Thursday, the poor souls who work in retail [read: me and others like me, trying to make ends meet post-graduation, single parents trying to make their ends meet to take care of their precious babies, and sometimes non-single parents who just, like, work at Target because they get paid better than minimum wage and get benefits if they’re full time, and sometimes non-parents for those same reasons and all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons] get pulled away from their families on Thanksgiving day just before 6 pm to go cater to the crazy shoppers who leave their families by choice to make sure they get the *it* toy or the giant plasma screen TV or whatever it is that they NEED, but don’t want to buy at full-price.
Of course, not all retailers do this (bless you, TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Marshalls, Costco, etc.) but a lot of them do. And it’s pretty screwed up.
Because not only do these shoppers drag retail workers out of their homes and away from their family and friends to come in so you can buy whatever for 50% off or whatever, they’re rude about it. They are, by and large, not going to be apologizing for the fact that they’re coming in, and will possibly even get angry at the retail workers for not having something they want because, like, OBVIOUSLY, it’s the cashier’s fault that we only stock x number of this thing and you were the (x+1)th person to come looking for it or that the thing didn’t ring up what you thought it would because the system is missing some discount that you saw a sign for, but we didn’t because we’re not out on the floor checking sale signs.
Now, I’ve never been a shopper on Black Friday (or pre-Black Friday) because I’m not about to go shopping with thousands of other people who could potentially, I don’t know, trample me, stab me, pepper spray me, shoot me, or hit me with their car. This is a dangerous thing to do, guys. And of course, if it’s dangerous for the shoppers, it’s also dangerous for the workers, who we should care about (and I’m not just saying this because I work in retail now–seriously, my fellow Target Team Members are some of the sweetest people I’ve met and deserve all the good things).
So, like, if you can practice the self-restraint to NOT go shopping on Thanksgiving day and let retailers know that this isn’t something the American people want or need, then please do. And if you can’t, then at least be nice to the people who you interact with in the store, because you don’t know them, and whatever is making you upset while shopping is probably not their fault. Feel free to come out on Black Friday, though. Just don’t get violent while you’re shopping. Like, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get your precious little Jimmy or Janie or whatever your child is called that “Hatchimal” [the big toy of 2016, think how popular furbies were when they came out, or tickle-me-elmo when he came out] for 25% off. We really only have a few of them at a time [the shelves in my Target appear to only hold 8 Hatchimals at once, 2 rows of 4]. And there will be more at a later date, I’m sure.
The Fierce Feminist