Working On Thanksgiving Sucks And I’m So Glad I Don’t Have To

152405232When you actually enjoy the holidays, working on one of them totally sucks.

I’ve worked on Thanksgiving every year for the past decade. I’ll be doing it this year too – but it will actually be bearable because unlike years passed, I now work from home and will still be surrounded by the festivities, family and smell of turkey. For the last ten years though – I was a bartender and waitress in NYC. A lot of people go out to eat on Thanksgiving in New York, so it was a very busy time for restaurants.

I look back on my childhood with fond memories of pretty much everything shutting down on holidays like Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. The streets would be empty and quiet with a silence you just don’t see on regular days. Even New York used to be like this – the bustling Brooklyn streets would slow down. Not anymore. More and more businesses are staying open on holidays to meet the demand of those who still want to be served or shop.

I wrote about what a bummer this was last year. It was  my 10th successive year of serving the general public their turkey. It was wearing on me. Although I loved my employer at the time and the neighborhood in which I worked – there’s something about having to leave the house and your family on a holiday that is just – weepy:

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…  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.


When you express an opinion like this it’s hard not to be met with some pushback. Obviously I realize there are occupations that don’t get a break – ever. Hospital, hotels, airports, police departments, firehouses – certain places just don’t “shut down” like the rest. There’s just something about a place that doesn’t “need” to stay open that does that is kind of a bummer. Is it wrong to wish that people would get a break every once in a while?

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

Right – because all of us workers should keep our heads down, never complain about anything and be happy we have jobs at all. I hate that mentality. Jesus Christ. Everyone is entitled to be disgruntled about having to work instead of being with their families – even us lowly blue collar folk who desperately need our paychecks.

Anyway – back to how much it sucks to work on Thanksgiving. I’m starting to believe that soon – nothing is going to shut down anymore. People still need groceries. People are definitely shopping – we know that for a fact. Walmart is killing Thanksgiving by starting their Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving, to ensure that people are lining up for cheap TV’s instead of spending the day with their loved ones. Black Friday sales should be on FRIDAY. Stupid Walmart.

But no matter. We’ll just keep consuming shit we don’t need on holidays and justifying it by pointing to jobs people need to keep, other occupations that don’t get breaks and individual anecdotes about why we shouldn’t care about holidays at all. That’s the spirit.

It really is fantastic to have ONE DAY when you know all of your friends and family will be available to sit around a table and break bread together. Too bad this idea seems to be vanishing more and more every year. I already envision a future of telling my kids stories about how everything used to be closed! and they’ll stare at me and think, no way!

(Image: getty images)

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

    Amen! I’m lucky to work for a retail store that has no need to be open on Thanksgiving (I work for an outdoor/hunting store. Our customers are all out in the field today :D ), but I won’t see my husband at all today besides what little time we spent together this morning. He’s working a 14 hour shift at Wal-mart. I might brave the traffic with our kiddo to go see him this afternoon before “The Event” starts. Bah.

    Somebody want to tell me what’s so important that we have to be able to shop year round?

    • Maria Guido

      14 hour shift? Boooooo!

    • keelhaulrose

      My husband is scheduled 14 hours starting at 3 in the morning. And he’s the lucky one. A couple people at his place have been scheduled from 8 tonight until 8 tomorrow morning, then they’re back from 4 in the afternoon until 10 (or as soon as all the tickets have been cleared, which has been midnight before)

  • pixie

    The one year I worked at Starbucks in high school (during my fifth year) I worked Thanksgiving because of the huge pay increase (I think I got time and a half or something) and my family isn’t huge into Thanksgiving. My location wasn’t super busy, but we were near the highway so that’s why our store was one of the ones chosen to be open that day. But I agree it can suck working on a holiday and seeing everyone else enjoying it when you’d rather not be working.

  • Mel

    I hate it so much for the retail people who are forced to work on holidays. I opted out of my family gathering this year to protect my mental health, but as a show of solidarity for those who are stuck working, I’m going to stay home and not patronize any businesses that are open.

    And I absolutely agree that the mentality of “shut up and just be happy to have a job” is absolutely absurd! When did we all lose empathy for our fellow humans and change into every-person-for-themselves?!

    • Mikster

      Well I think that happened when the general public became stampeding herds on Black Friday. And now they want Thanksgiving as well.

  • Elly

    A friend of mine works for a company that is open today for their black friday specials as well. Everyone at the store she works for is scheduled to work today, thanksgiving, and if they call in they will be fired.

    A whole store full of employees, forced to work Thanksgiving, how sad is that?

    • Maria Guido

      I actually can’t believe how many are open. I had heard about Walmart – but Toys R Us and even Staples? Crazy.

    • I have to sort my pens, again.

      Um, some of us desperately need paperclips and “good job!’ stickers on Thanksgiving. How dare you judge me for my organizational neurosis!

    • Wifey

      My hubby works for Target- they ask all 400 employees (even ones hired only for seasonal) if they want to work Thanksgiving. Do you know who doesn’t get asked? He and the other managers. They don’t get a choice. He says many do work on Thursday so they can take off Friday, go shopping, watch football, etc. It’s so unnecessary to open on Thurs!

  • Shannon

    As an employee that works in a business that is open 24/7 365 days a year, it always amuses me when people come in on holidays and say, “oh, it sucks you have to work today”. You bet it does! Maybe stay home next time and I could spend time with my family too!
    Last year I basically told my boss he could shove the idea of me working Christmas day up his ass.

    • Andrea

      How did it work out? I really do want to know.
      I worked in the corporate office of a department store as a financial analyst for 3 years. And they forced the corporate people to go work at the stores on Black Friday. PISSED ME RIGHT OFF and I called in “sick” twice. Fuck it. I’m so glad I no longer slave for corporate greedy assholes.

    • Shannon

      I got the day off. When he brought up the idea of being open on Christmas day, I told him there is absolutely no way I would be working.
      He is the head manager and I am assistant manager, so obviously I have a little more pull as to what I choose to work, but had he told me I didn’t have a choice, I probably would have quit.

    • JussyLee

      It makes a difference to the entry-level staff to see the higher-ups pitch in on Black Friday and other such red letter sales days.

    • Andrea

      That hasn’t been my experience. I could tell they were beyond annoyed trying to find something for me to do on the busiest day of the year.

  • Mikster

    I[‘m sorry- I feel for you. And I agree that greed and entitlement attitudes are killing one of our few holidays left.

  • Ptownsteveschick

    I was going to eat out this year, but we are going to go to my Mom’s and celebrate tomorrow instead. My husband is working, because the hospital doesn’t close haha. I keep seeing all the posts about boycotting restaurants and retail places that are open on the holidays, but people seem to forget that those aren’t the only places people might be working.
    Anyway, growing up in a retail worker family, I have a skewed view. Thanksgiving was the busiest time of year for my dad (meat department manager) and he almost always ended up working 7,8,9 days in a row before Thanksgiving, and the day itself.
    As an adult I have worked Thanksgivings and Christmases, because I like money just a teeny tiny bit more than I like sitting around in my pajamas staring at my family members. Now that I am a SAHM, we just adjust our celebrations to whatever day my husband actually gets to take off. So I guess I’m trying to say I am glad you don’t have to work this year Maria, but it doesn’t always suck for everyone.