We seem to have gone from “giving” to “gimmee”. Thanksgiving used to be a day when we spent time with family and friends, watching parades and football and eating too much. I don’t recall much quiet reflection, and the giving of thanks was pretty much restricted to a mumbled reply when someone passed you that second piece of pie. I also remember pouring over the giant stack of store ads, feeling that excitement building for the upcoming hunt. I would have to step away when I could feel myself being drawn in like a member of the borg collective. “Must. Have. The. Shiny. 50’ TV.”
As a former retail manager, I speak from experience when I tell you that I hated black Friday. From the moment I opened the doors, until I locked them at night, there was a constant crush of humanity; a buying frenzy that made shark feeding frenzys look polite. It took every ounce of energy my staff and I had, to keep shelves stocked and lines moving. I would bring trays of sandwiches and vegetables for my employees, so they could take frequent breaks to recharge. My generosity had an ulterior motive — I wanted to keep my people in my store and away from the long lines at the food court where a 15-minute break could easily take 45 minutes.
I cherished my day off on Thanksgiving. It was a time to relax and get mentally prepared for the upcoming month. I would check over plans for keeping the store stocked and staffed in order to maximize profits for the company. The next 4 weeks would be brutal. I wanted to make sure my employees were utilized but not burned out by the end of that time. Before I opened the doors on black Friday, we would do a quick meeting where I gave any last minute instructions and told them all thanks for their hard work. Not just for that day, but every day they worked.
I realize now, that I played a major part in their hard work. I managed the way I would like to be managed — acknowledging and thanking them frequently, correcting kindly and privately, encouraging laughter and fun. I never asked more of my staff than of myself. Not surprisingly, I always had employees who would go above and beyond. Amazing, what a simple “thanks” can generate.
I’m not going to ask you not to shop on Thanksgiving. I’m not going to propose you stay home in protest. It won’t change the facts. Stores are already staffed and ready to open, managers are already plotting how to reap maximum profits from holiday greed. Thanksgiving is no longer a day set aside to give thanks for all we have. Instead, it has turned into a day to get more.
So this Thanksgiving, all I’m asking is that you remember to say “thanks” to the person who works so you might shop. And to all of you, my readers, my friends, I offer a humble and sincere “thank you”. Thank you for reading, for liking, for sharing. You give me purpose and make my heart happy.
Now. Would someone please pass me another slice of pumpkin pie? Thanks!