Thursday, November 17, 2011

Controversy

The announcement that many stores will be opening at midnight on Black Friday has caused a shit-storm of controversy.  Many, many people are putting up blog posts and status updates about this.  And then you have the comments.  Seeing as I am usually behind times, I thought I would jump on THIS bandwagon early.  Unfortunately, as I have gotten older, I usually can see BOTH sides of an issue and have no clear-cut opinion either way about this.

First, for the one or two people on earth who don't know:  I REALLY hate the holiday season.  I would be so grateful if I could go to sleep on Black Friday and not wake up until the 3rd of January, just so I could miss most of the hype.  And, as usual, I blame The Mother for my hatred of the season--but what else is new?  ;)  So, with that out of the way, here we go.

Quite a few workers are lamenting the fact that they will not be able to have more time with their families before they have to head for work on Black Friday.  Well, boo-ficking-hoo!  Even today--30+ years with the same company--The Husband is not guaranteed every holiday off.  He works rotating shifts and many years in a row will work on Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's, the Fourth of July--you name it, he works it.  These days, it doesn't matter as much to me as it did when the girls were young, but it can get a bit lonely when you're by yourself 'celebrating' a holiday while everyone else is celebrating with loved ones and/or family.  But, it is something that I have had to live with.  The Husband has a good job and this comes with the territory.  And please, DON'T tell me that, just because you are working at Walmart, you didn't know you would have to work on holidays.  Since almost every store in the known universe is open 24 hours a day, SOMEONE has to work, and you just might be the one holding the short straw.  A lot of people feel that the workers have nothing to complain about, as they at least HAVE jobs--no matter how crappy--they need to suck it up.  And in this economy, that is a valid point.

Of course, the other side has a good argument going for it, as well.  A lot of people wonder why the workers can't have even one day free to spend with their families.  Why are these stores so worried about a couple of hours, that they have to open at midnight?  Don't the workers deserve a little time off?  There really is no sane reason to push the season even earlier than it already is.  This, too, is a valid point.

As old as I am, I remember a time when stores were closed on EVERY holiday AND every Sunday, as well.  (Hell, I remember having only two TV stations and THEY only broadcast for several hours each day.)  If you didn't remember to get bread and milk on Saturday, there was very little you could do on Sunday if you ran out.  Sure, we had a few 'party' or convenience stores, but the choices were extremely limited.  I don't even know if the one store in my hometown had more than a half-dozen quarts of milk delivered at any one time, so you had to get there early if you needed some.  (This same store NEVER was out of hard liquor, beer, or wine, however.  ;))  The ONLY people who worked on holidays or Sunday were nurses and cops and firefighters and any other 'essential' personnel.  (The Husband would have been an essential person, even back then:  He works in an electrical power plant.)  But, we now demand 24 hour shopping and we are having to deal with needing people to work, even on 'traditional' off-days.

Personally, I wouldn't mind if there was a law stating that Christmas shopping/advertising/etc couldn't last more than the two weeks leading up to the actual day.  (I am a big advocate for this same law being applied to elections, but I digress.)  It seems as if people are actually SURPRISED that Christmas falls on December 25th and have to be reminded of it every single year, with all of the ads and hoopla.  Really!?!?!?  These days, you can buy ANYTHING at any time of the year--and often for less than you pay around the holidays.  If you want to buy for Christmas, then do it all year round.  (Good advice--if only I could follow it.  :D)  I honestly see no need for the 'big push' that begins on Black Friday.

And talking about the Black Friday 'sales'...   Has anyone noticed how things are almost beginning to feel like bait-and-switch tactics?  Every year I peruse the ads--as most people do--and am amazed at what are being considered the 'big buys.'  For example, I can assure you that this year one of the big electronic 'must haves' is going to be e-readers/tablets.  With both Amazon and B&N coming out with their latest and greatest, many people are going to be wanting to buy one of these gadgets.  The problem is, you will find Walmart, K-Mart, Target, etc, selling devices such as this for great prices--much, much cheaper than Amazon or B&N sell them for--but the devices themselves will be very inferior to the higher priced 'brand name' ones.  People will be happy to buy one of these devices for less than half the cost of a Kindle or NOOK, but they will be very underwhelmed and disappointed by the lack of features--and they will wonder what the hype about these gadgets is all about.  Without a great deal of research, many people will waste money on under-powered, little-featured items.  And this goes on all of the time on Black Friday.  I've seen this same type of selling of computers and cellphones and music players, etc.  So, I have found that--at least the past several years--there is absolutely no reason for me to shop on Black Friday.  At least NOT in the early morning hours, as many of the deals are still in place in the afternoon and evening.

As one of a very small minority--and despite the inconvenience factor--I don't think I would be all that sad if we went back to the days where stores were closed on Sundays and holidays.  I don't know of many things that I need to get on Sunday that, with a little planning, I couldn't take care of on one of the other six days of the week.  Granted, this would change how we do our road trips, but it wouldn't be that bad.  And to think,

 "In 1965, a Senate subcommittee predicted that by 2000, Americans would be working 20 hours a week with 7+ weeks vacation. (via @JohndeGraaf)"  

 NOT quite what was predicted.

5 comments:

meleah rebeccah said...

"Personally, I wouldn't mind if there was a law stating that Christmas shopping/advertising/etc couldn't last more than the two weeks leading up to the actual day."

AMEN TO THAT.

And I will definitely NOT be shopping on Black Friday.

ordinaryjanet said...

Oh, I remember when the stores were closed on Sundays, but you learned to plan ahead and get what you needed. I guess personal responsibility, along with a lot of other virtues, is a casualty of the times.

I'm like you-the part about hibernation from the day after Thanksgiving through Jan. 3 sounds like something I'd have said! Commercialization has ruined the holiday season, it's no longer about peace on earth and goodwill towards men, it's about getting that flat-screen TV and the latest electronic gadget. Mom was in the nursing home with her broken leg during Christmas last year, and the only good thing about it was that I didn't have to decorate or set up the Xmas tree. She keeps teasing me about when I'm going to get the decorations out of the crawl space under the roof. *shudder*

Don't you love the countdown of how many shopping days are left? and the local news always has a live camera at a mall on Christmas Eve, filming the procrastinators and the bargain hunters.

cmk said...

From the people I talk to (who aren't happy with the way things are), I'm guessing the ONLY people who aren't outraged by the commercialization and longevity of the Christmas season are the same people who think Oprah is the goddess on earth--and none of THOSE are friends/acquaintances of mine, either. ;D

I just don't understand how we got to this point. It is a sad state, for sure.

ordinaryjanet said...

Hmm. Does this mean that Oprah is evil incarnate?

cmk said...

Now, what would make you think THAT? {looking innocent}