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Let workers enjoy holiday

Updated: December 26, 2011 8:50AM



Driving along Wacker Drive on Thanksgiving Eve, I noticed a holiday bell ringer was already stationed on a corner.

I don’t know if the guy was working for a charity or was just creative. But it reminded me what I enjoy most about being a boomer.

While everyone else is rushing off somewhere, I am living the moment.

On the day after Thanksgiving, I won’t be lining up with the hordes camped outside of department stores in the hopes that I’ll beat someone to a coveted electronic or toy.

I know some shoppers are like the frantic woman featured in Target’s door buster commercials, but I’ve never been one of those.

I never appreciated “Black Friday,” especially since the Christmas commercial season already seems long enough. Pretty soon, stores will just forget Thanksgiving altogether and kick off the shopping season the day after Halloween.

So while Anthony Hardwick, the part-time employee who launched the online petition called “Tell Target to Save Thanksgiving,” has come under some harsh criticism in the corporate world, he’s my kind of guy.

Target, which is headquartered in Minneapolis, will open midnight Thursday, instead of 5 a.m. Friday.

That means in cities all over the country where Target has stores, pumped up families are choking down the turkey and frantically hitting the highways in search of an incredible deal.

But Target’s Thanksgiving blow-out has to be a drag on employees.

“By opening the doors at midnight, Target is requiring team members to be in the store at 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. . . ,” Hardwick wrote on Change.org.

“All Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones and get a good night’s rest on Thanksgiving,” he said.

The petition garnered more than 190,000 signatures, a lot of buzz and some criticism.

The Star Tribune newspaper, also based in Minneapolis, wrote a scathing rebuke, telling “protesting” retail workers to “stop whining about having to work holiday hours.”

The editorial argued that because of the economy, those retail workers ought to be “grateful to have a job.”

“Too many people are out of work, struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Many are lacking health insurance and foregoing staples that in a different times were a given,” the editorial pointed out.

Obviously, that’s all true.

But retail workers are people too. Just because they have to take a job in which they work long hours for low wages doesn’t mean the holiday means less to them than the people who work in corporate.

Apparently, Hardwick, the guy who started the protest, works in Omaha, Neb., as a part-time shopping cart attendant. Cleveland.com reported that Hardwick also works another job.

Although Target claimed Hardwick was never scheduled to report to work at 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving night (a spokeswoman for Change.org disagrees), that is hardly the point.

Thanksgiving is a hard holiday as it is.

The average employee has to work all day on Wednesday and get up at the crack of dawn to either prepare the dinner or prepare the family to hit the road so they can spend the holiday with out-of-town family members.

Then once you get where you are going, all that eating, socializing, eating, cleaning up, and eating wears you out.

Of course, there are people who would rather shop than sleep, and that’s what the Internet is for.

But unfortunately, there are people who would rather work than spend time with family. They are likely the people who were in a position to decide that Thanksgiving isn’t so special after all.

If you know someone like that, get them tickets to “A Christmas Carol” at the Goodman Theatre.

Because when the suits can convince us that shopping is a Thanksgiving tradition, we’ve forgotten the spirit of the celebration.

Once that happens, “bah humbug” is right around the corner.



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