I got a little peeved when I read the Forbes article entitled: Why Walmart Is Not Evil For Opening on Thanksgiving, Give It a Break.
You can guess the general tone of the article. It’s written by a man who has never had to work retail in order to make ends meet. Make no mistake about it, Walmart is still evil and I will not let other retailers off the hook for opening its doors on Thanksgiving and for the perverse tradition of Black Friday. Target, K-mart, Toys R Us, regular shopping malls, you’re all on my shit list too.
But this guy, Richard Saintvilus, ignorant neo-con of the season, wrote this contrarian piece just to be a dick about it. He says he’s tired of the same stale arguments against Walmart and asks: “Who made you the authority on business principle?” That’s funny, because I always thought of Walmart seriously lacking in business principles. Yes, they always make their bottom line, but it’s always on the backs of slave–wage labor.
I come from a Walmart family. My step father is apart of the company’s management and I even worked there myself for four years. It was my first job and my first experience with learning my value as a worker in a capitalist machine. You can imagine the arguments I had with my parents on this issue.
From age 17 to 21, I was overworked and underpaid, chewed up and spit out. As an expendable college student, I have worked a couple of Black Fridays in my time. According to Saintvilus, Walmart being open on Thankgiving is not a big deal because it’s a huge employer who has given people opportunities to work in a recession. Plus, Walmart is also one of America‘s largest tax payers! You go Walmart, all sins are forgiven!
Saintvilus doesn’t talk about the people that hold these store up during the holidays. Instead, it sounds like he’s blaming the victim. If you voluntarily chose to apply for a job at Walmart (or any other retailer for that matter) you voluntarily sacrificed your rights as a laborer. That means, you should just know you’re working the holidays and that you probably won’t receive adequate health care in the event of a customer tazering you for a bigscreen TV.
The truth is, if you’ve applied for a job at Walmart, you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel and you don’t have many choices in life. These people know what it truly means to make sacrifices. Just because someone is magnanimous enough to give you a job, doesn’t mean it’s a good job. Hell, Pimps give prostitutes jobs, I still think they should get a day off with holiday pay. Now if freelance writer, Richard Saintvilus actually pulled a Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) and worked at one of these places, he might change the tune of his op-ed piece.
There was once a time when you didn’t have to sacrifice spending time with your family on a HOLIDAY in favor of working for the worst of humanity. And by “the worst of humanity” I mean Black Friday shoppers. When I worked at Walmart, on days that weren’t Black Friday, I served terrible people who cussed me out whenever they didn’t get their way.
One busy day, when a woman thought I was ringing too slowly, she threw her gallon of melted ice cream at me and screamed: “This is what happened to my fucking ice cream because you’re the slowest cashier in the world!!” I kid you not.
Now multiply that by a 1,000 and you get Black Friday. Already, Black Friday 2012 has been dangerous. In San Antonio, a man pulled a gun on a line-cutter in front of Sears. A couple, who were just walking into a Walmart, were hit by a drunk driver in the parking lot. These are avoidable events. If stores were closed, if people were forced to spend more time with their families, if Crockpots weren’t marked down to $9. . .
Saintvilus‘ argument is flimsy at best and dangerous at worst. By cutting out the humanity factor of the holidays, you create a soulless horde of people who will abuse one another in the vain attempt to fill the emptiness of their lives.
So yes, I supported the protest to close department stores during the holidays and I hope for better results next year. Can you seriously wait TWO DAYS to buy that LCD bigscreen?