I’ve heard the remark, “Nobody sits down and eats dinner as a family anymore,” many times over in the past year. Until about five years ago I probably would have blamed it on the parents being too busy to bother or the kids having a lot of afterschool activities or heck, maybe even on cable television or video games. That’s no longer my tune. I blame the increasing importance of retail stores and company greed.
My current household consists of four people between the ages of 23 and 56. Of those four, I am the ONLY one who does not work retail. That means I am the only one who has a standard Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm type of hours work schedule. One person has a set weekly schedule as far as days of the week go but is seldom home before 6 pm, closer to 7 o’clock most nights. The remaining two people have wild and random days they work and wide ranging hours. They can be on duty anywhere between 5 am and 10 pm. People leave the house as early as 4 in the morning to get to work and arrive home as late 11 o’clock at night or even midnight, depending on the time of year. Week to week this schedule varies. I have gone as long as three days and nights without seeing some members of the household upright and awake despite living in the same place. This does not even bring into the picture trying to find a date and time where my daughter can come over to visit or even meet us for dinner somewhere.
How does one schedule meals together when people have to work these wild shifts? Is anyone really going to show up at 7am on a Sunday morning to buy a pair of work gloves or set of ski poles? How often does someone arrive at 9:30 at night to order a set of cabinets? What happen to a standard eight hour day? Oh, that’s right… MONEY!
If we stay open longer, more people will come. They will spend more money. We can get richer, faster. In the meantime, we have to have employees on duty for the customers that will be busting down the doors to get in at 7 o’clock in the morning. You never know when you’re going to have an “I need a new pair of boots” emergency! We better be open – – – just in case. And being open all these extra hours and having to pay the employees, not to mention the increased electric bill, we better lower the pay scale to cover all that thus making our profit even bigger! Woot!
Family sit down dinners where EVERYONE is present are few and far between in my house anymore. When they do happen it always seems to be a very special occasion and it really makes you appreciate that time. It’s a shame that the majority of corporate big wigs seem to have no concept anymore of what it means to have family time. Maybe they feel they’ve done their time and now that they’ve worked their way to the top of the ladder, those things are no longer important. Instead, they should be climbing down from that lofty position and remember from whence they came. Show your employees that you actually give a damn about them.
I stopped at a newly opened Hobby Lobby in town a couple weeks ago and then realized as a I pulled into the parking lot, “Oh, crap. It’s Sunday. They aren’t open on Sundays.” How awesome is that? I’m not even a Christian so I don’t need the time for ‘Worship’ but dang, the ‘time with their families’ clause really struck a chord with me and made me smile. Yes, it was slightly inconvenient as I’d made as special trip to check out the new store but if that’s the biggest thing I have to worry about in my life, that Hobby Lobby is closed on Sundays, I must really have a boring life. Which, I don’t.
As we dive head first into the holiday shopping season, I urge you to keep in mind those people behind the counters who are waiting on you. (I put in my retail time, too, folks, I know how nasty some holiday shoppers can be.) Remember they are only doing their jobs and trying to support their families on a pay check that probably barely covers their living expenses. Don’t get all snippy and impatient when a certain sweater isn’t there in the size or color you demand. Don’t be pushy and rude to your fellow human beings. Life as we know it is not going to implode on itself because you didn’t get the best deal of the day. Really – it’s not!
This is supposed to be a time of kindness, giving and love. A simple smile can go a lot further than you think. Let these folks working their butts off at obscene hours of the day and night share in the joys of the holiday so that when they do eventually get to have some time at home with their family they don’t spend it venting off steam from your rude and demanding customer behavior. As much as you might like to imagine it, these folks are not your personal minions. Be gracious and patient. It’s amazing how much your service will improve if you’re not being a greedy ass.
But, I digress.
I won’t be out shopping on Thanksgiving Day and by some miracle of miracles, all the members of my family have the day off! I have a lot of things to be thankful for this past year and a day spent with all of them enjoying a meal and some after dinner board games is going to be one more of those things. We’ll have three generations around our table and that’s really what matters the most to me. Now, pass the gravy, please.