Okay. I’ve seen a lot of facebook posts & memes lately going something like this, “Retail workers shouldn’t complain! What about nurses and doctors and all other healthcare workers and everybody else that has to work on a holiday!?”
Yes. Because I have to work every (other) holiday, everyone else should have to work holidays because. Um. Just because. And the gym should also be open on X-mas day because. Treadmills.
Side note: I’m really torn over Thanksgiving anyway, so working on that day didn’t matter much to me personally. The origins of Thanksgiving are weird & racist at best. I still see people dressing their (white) kids up as pilgrims & Indians. (That never happened). (And yes, once upon a time ago I also dressed up as a pilgrim. Weird). So. Yeah. If I work that day, it isn’t a big deal to me. For some folks, it is a huge deal & justifiably so. I’d rather celebrate New Year’s (if I can stay up until midnight). To each her own.
But, on the other hand, Thanksgiving is supposed to be about giving thanks/family/insert any cliche here. There are certainly positives…and like any other holiday, the level of meaningfulness varies. After this holiday where we are supposedly “giving thanks” for all we have, the next day (and, even the day itself) is “buy-a-bunch-of-crap-you-don’t-need day”! There are a million articles & opinions on that irony. So, now we are so excited to buy crap, that retail workers are forced to work not only Black Friday, but Thanksgiving Day itself. (“But healthcare workers have always worked holidays!” True. But, because we need to).
Nobody would die if WalMart was closed for 24 hours. Then again, they pay below a living wage, so maybe some of their employees want the benefits of holiday pay so they can afford to eat food for the holidays? I know I used to always sign up for holidays as a nurse’s aide because. holiday pay. broke college student.
So. Yeah. I worked on Thanksgiving this year too. I am not an angel. I am not selfless. I also work every other weekend. Because hospitals generally attempt to function 24 hours a day/7 days a week. I also make a living wage as an RN. I have health benefits. I am thankful for those things. The nurse’s aides (I am using nurse’s aide instead of CNA because computers can’t resist turning that into CAN) do not generally make a living wage. Neither do the housekeepers. Or janitors. Or the various other positions within the hospital. I can afford to eat! Not everyone can afford 3 meals a day (much less a big holiday meal).
And, no. I do not think we should compare nurses/doctors/EMTs etc.etc.etc. to retail workers. Yes. As a nurse, I encounter rude people on a daily basis. In fact, sometimes the environment seems downright hostile & abusive. I don’t feel like that justifies a hostile & abusive work environment for a cashier at ShopKo (do those even still exist anyway? ShopKos, I mean.)
People choose to shop on Thanksgiving. Few patients want to be admitted on a holiday. They need their nurses/nurse’s aides/doctors/healthcare team to function on holidays just like any other day. And they usually need a little extra compassion on those days too. Especially if their families just “drop them off” at the ER and go back to participating in their own celebration (true story).
So, instead of being outraged by the outrage over retail workers working on Thanksgiving (or any other holiday), maybe try and be (even a little) empathetic? I mean. I know I would be depressed to help folks find a twenty cent stack of greeting cards & $15 dish set & a flat-screen TV on Thanksgiving. (Yes, I don’t really think most people are looking for greeting card sales on Black Friday, but still).
Whew. Holiday work. Just part of a healthcare worker’s job! Besides, people in the hospital (generally) seem to be a lot nicer to each other.
The point is: Retail work is not the same as healthcare work, nor should it be held to the same standards of holiday work.
(P.S. Am told by loved ones that this sounds a little “exasperated” and maybe not as sunshine-y. Sorry about that. I am very grateful not to be a retail worker on holidays. And I am very grateful for my lovely & hilarious co-workers that make holidays, or any other days, bearable & occasionally fun).