Back in college I got a job at a well known national retailer. Well, I did for long enough to deal with the not-so-fun aspect of giving up my holiday. When you’re in school, holidays are everything. Giving them up just to make a few bucks can be a tough decision, unless you really need those few bucks.

I was lucky, on Thanksgiving Day I was able to spend quality time with my family. Black Friday morning, I drove back to college and worked a later shift. Even that wasn’t fun. So I can’t imagine what retail employees at stores like Target, Kohl’s, and Toys R Us felt when they learned their stores were going to open Thanksgiving night. Some as early as 9pm.

From the perspective of the suits in corporate offices, this makes sense. They are delivering what the customers want. I don’t know of anyone that does door-busters at 4:00 in the morning by themselves. While the prices are always good it can also be fun. I had some friends that camped out for the Xbox 360 when it first came out. I didn’t participate, but they had fun. The same premise applies for Black Friday shopping. For some families I’m sure it’s a tradition.

And those families are tired of getting up at 4 and huddling in a line outside and cold with a bunch of other people with nothing but coffee to keep them warm. Doing it on the evening of Turkey Day means happy and full customers. And each retailer has to meet or beat the earliest time or fear losing the customer (how profitable those customers are is a different conversation).

But what about the people that work there? Is this fair to them? Do you want to go to work on Thanksgiving to make a few measly bucks an hour? It probably sucks enough to be a nurse or doctor on duty, but at least the pay is considerably better. Restocking iTunes gift cards while your family enjoys pumpkin pie is less glamorous. The free market willed this to happen, so one could argue that these employees partially do it to themselves and have a choice not to show up. But they can’t afford the consequences.

And some retail employees are speaking out. There’s even a petition asking Target to not open so early.

Customers certainly wouldn’t be happy with that. One would that that if all retailers had a gentleman’s agreement to open at 9 the next day everyone would win. But let’s be honest, most people can’t stand to be around their own families for that long. They’re desperate to get away from farting grandpa, nagging aunts, and that cousin that never makes eye contact.

Retail employees, I feel your pain and I for one will not support retailers at all on Black Friday. Here’s hoping some day this game will stop and families will learn to drink until Aunt Betty’s voice sounds like an angel and the farts don’t stink anymore.

Read: Workers push back against earlier holiday openings

Photo: Lars Ploughmann

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categories: business, personal finance