I’ll Be Working On Thanksgiving Because New Yorkers Can’t Be Bothered To Cook For Themselves

There have been a lot of stories slamming companies like Toys R Us and Wal Mart for moving their Black Friday sales up a day – essentially turning them into “Thanksgiving Sales.” I agree that this whole move is a huge bummer and really not in line with the holiday spirit. I know first hand what a downer it is to work on the holidays. I am a waitress in New York City.

I have worked almost every Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving for the past decade. Why? Because New Yorkers don’t cook on holidays. It’s truly a mystery.

I don’t know if it is because of tiny kitchens, really expensive groceries, or the general orphan spirit that exists in a city filled with transplants. All I know is that on Thanksgiving day many restaurants are filled with customers. Coming from a suburban area of California, I was shocked when I learned not only would I be working on this holiday – but that it was our busiest day of the year.

Customers are generally nicer on holidays. They look at you with a sort of sadness – with an assumption that you have no other place to be on that day. Why else would you be serving them? I generally work on those days because we can’t really afford to travel around the holidays. I like to be able to help out my co-workers who can. Someone has to do it – it may as well be the person who has no plans on leaving town. But of course I’d rather be home with my family.

Toys R Us and Walmart are staying open to meet a demand. They know that hordes of people are going to come out for their sales – they might as well start a day early. They are businesses. They think like businesses. You can’t really fault them for that. And restaurants and bars in New York are staying open for the same reason – because people want them to.

One of the things that I love about holidays is the feeling you get when you walk or drive around town and nothing is open. The quiet. The non-activity. I miss that. But with more and more people opting out of spending these days at home with their families or friends, the quiet is going to disappear a little more every year – until everything is open and it is business as usual.

Bah, humbug.

And I’m sorry about your tiny kitchens, New Yorkers. But don’t assume that I don’t have anywhere else to be just because my employers are meeting a demand created by you.

(photo: Africa Studio/ Shutterstock.com)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • CW

      I’m sorry that you have to work on the holiday but you need to be less judgmental of people who decide to eat their holiday meals at a restaurant rather than at home. They may have a very valid reason for doing so. My two oldest children were born in mid-October and mid-November so I sure didn’t feel up to cooking an elaborate Thanksgiving meal those years. We also went out to eat the year my grandpa was in the hospital recovering from surgery and the year my hubby was doing an Army training course. A friend of mine always goes out to eat for holiday meals because she lost her mom at a young age and it brings back painful memories as her mom was always big into cooking elaborate holiday meals.

    • Yves

      I’m a nurse. I always work holidays too, it’s part of the job and I get paid well for working on the holiday. I do feel bad for the retail workers…$8.00/hour isn’t much incentive to miss out on a holiday with family. At least in the restaurant business the need is generated by a basic need (eating) and the spirit of the holiday. But the retail business the need is just generated by greed and a materialistic drive.

    • Jessie

      I feel your pain. I’ve worked in the pet care industry for four years now, in a pet hotel connected to a major pet store. I haven’t had even a MINOR holiday off in that whole time, because even though the store is closed on the holiday, company policy demands that humans be in the hotel side 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ALL YEAR ROUND. Meaning our staff, both day shift and overnight shift, comes in on the holiday to do work as usual, and next to Christmas it is our busiest time of the year. Our facility holds over 200 animals, and we get FULL. The noise of all the dogs in one space and the chaos of being understaffed and ouir seasonal hires being ill-trained is enough to drive someone insane, I don’t know how I haven’t lost it by now.
      I miss out on time with my family because people insist on traveling without their animals or, worse, just don’t want to put up with the animal while having company over for dinner so they toss them onto us.

    • SJP

      Wow, how judgmental. I work as an engineer in a high tech factory that is open 24/7/365. Long story short, we can’t just shut down the factory for a holiday. I have worked Thanksgiving about a half of the last 12 years I’ve been here. Not just Thursday, but Friday too. I’ve never felt bitter about having to work Thanksgiving – it is just a day. And yes, many of those years, we chose to go out for dinner at a restaurant that served the traditional turkey meal. For one, I didn’t have time to cook the big meal, and two, we live across the country from family. Why am I going to cook a huge Thanksgiving meal for 2 people? Once we started having kids – same thing. My daughter was born 10/30 – so I was on Maternity leave, but we still went out to dinner because I was recovering and not up to cooking a big meal for two adults. Not everyone is surrounded by family, or friends they feel close enough with to share the holiday. Not everyone likes to cook! And for all the people who DO get to be at home and cook – shouldn’t they be thankful for the police officers, fire fighters, doctors, nurses, etc who are working if they need them? What if they want a nice hot meal on their break, or at the end of their shift?

    • Fabel

      Actually, I think the look of pity you’re receiving is due to the fact that most customers know your employer asked you to come in on that holiday. not because they assume you have nothing better to do.

      • ipsedixit010

        I thought the same thing.

    • lawcat

      Isn’t that part of taking a job in the service industry, though? That it’s almost a given that you’ll have to work holidays? Those patrons who are coming in on Thanksgiving are helping pay your bills. Without demand, you don’t have a job.

      How about you pass this around to your customers or ask your boss if you can post on the door so they know how you really feel. Maybe you’ll be a little more thankful that you have a job to go to this year. There are a lot of people who would jump at the chance to work on a holiday if it meant having a paycheck.

      My aunt worked retail for 20+ years and we just adjusted Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter around her schedule. Even though she was working on the holidays….she wasn’t working the WHOLE day. Heck, I work in an office and I’ll probably be working on Thanksgiving and my Christmas “break” for a bit, albeit from home.

    • Kate

      I live in New York and I cook on holidays – yes, in my tiny kitchen. What’s with the generalization? Not cool, and very unlike Mommyish to publish something so judgmental. I’m sorry you have to work on Thanksgiving, truly, but come on. At least have the decency to say “many.” The population here is, as you may have noticed, pretty large and diverse.

      • verstrickt

        Umm… it’s exactly like Mommyish to publish something judgmental; that’s why internet parenting sites exist.

    • JH

      I didn’t read this as her being judgmental at all. In fact she is defending the places being open. She even admits that she works because some of her co workers travel she tries to help them out. Though I do agree that the looks she gets are likely more about sucks your boss made you come in than someone thinking man it sucks she has nowhere else to be. That’s a bit of leap I’m not on board with.

      • CW

        The title talks about people who “couldn’t be bothered to cook”. How is that not being judgmental?

        I was an Army wife for 5 years so I can definitely sympathize with having to work when you’d rather be home (one New Year’s Day my hubby got an early wake-up call to bail one of his soldiers from jail). But while it’s okay for the author to grumble about her work schedule, I don’t think it is fair of her to judge the customers whom she is waiting upon this Thanksgiving.

    • JulesSF

      Several years back, I was driving across the country Thanksgiving weekend because I’d have the extra time to travel and not cut into my precious vacation days. My brother few out to keep me company and we ended up eating at a Denny’s on Thanksgiving (with many other travelers) in Tucumcari, NM. I overheard a lady whisper to her husband how sorry she felt for the people who had to eat Thanksgiving at Denny’s and how pathetic we all were, and which was a hoot to my brother an I. While it wasn’t the most delicious of holidays, It was certainly one of the most memorable and an wonderful opportunity for me to bond with my brother. Whether you cook at home or go out, it’s really the company that matters, isn’t it?

      And to Maria and all the people who work on holidays, I wish you HUGE tips and an opportunity bond with your loved ones on another day.

    • ipsedixit010

      People who “can’t be bothered to cook” are the reason we have restaurants and you have a job.

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