Likens: Shoppers encourage exploitive practices
Published: Monday, November 19, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 03:11
I had competition once, briefly. It was a problem I solved the usual way, by anonymously reporting my rival to the NSA as Saddam Hussein’s cousin and having him dragged off into the night, probably to be water boarded in an abandoned shopping mall somewhere. I won’t say why—but I’ve never had any trouble sitting where I want at IHOP since.
With that experience guiding me, I can easily recognize when someone is trying to up the ante and go straight for the throat. Rather transparently, Wal-Mart, Target and various other shopping destinations have migrated their traditional Black Friday sales to Thursday.
Why? Because the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. On a related note—this is quite possibly the first time Thanksgiving has ever been represented in a metaphor as a nail.
Yes, various major retailers have pushed their big sales forward this year, presumably to combat the popularity of the turkey-related holiday. Such an assault will require more than just a skeleton staff, meaning a large number of employees are going to be punching in rather than chowing down.
The result is a public outcry, and for Wal-Mart, potentially a federal case. As it turns out, people don’t like being asked to come in to work on Thanksgiving and the employees of these chains have quickly earned the support of the public.
At least Target is offering 1.5 times the normal pay, which is roughly the cost of precious memories employees would have had with their families that day anyway.
Wal-Mart’s advertisements still psychotically refer to the sale as Black Friday, insisting that it “starts early.” Either a very large portion of supermarket advertisers have legitimately never heard of Thanksgiving or just severely overestimate the power of playing coy.
However, try as I might, I can’t really feel all that much resentment towards the corporations themselves; not in this instance, at least. After all, companies do things like this because they know they can get away with it. If you want someone to blame, look inward.
Put in a building together, the human race is only marginally less predictable than your average sheep (the adaptation of hands can complicate things a bit), and so it won’t be a surprise when virtually everyone shows up anyway, regardless of whether or not they acknowledge it as tasteless—which it certainly is.
On top of forcing a third of their staff to man the harpoons for what are hands-down the most exhaustive shopping days of the year, these stores will be defacing the holidays for consumers in the millions. They’ll come flooding in, still overflowing with gravy and cranberries, shamelessly trading in the remaining sanctity of an American tradition for 10 percent off on a copy of Halo 4.
Maybe this isn’t something we have a right to feel indignant about. Maybe the American consumer was just asking for this and for anything else that we participate in despite our better judgment. It’s just too bad that some of us have to pay for it by being trampled to death while across town our wives try desperately to keep a ham from drying out.