Working On Thanksgiving

Many stores are open this Thanksgiving.  You may hear some people feeling sorry for the people manning the cash registers, swabbing the spill on aisle 9, or otherwise working today.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I worked part of one Thanksgiving Day, and it was great.

It was in the early ’70s, when I was a teenage “bag boy” at the Big Bear grocery store at Kingsdale Shopping Center in Upper Arlington.  The store was open from 8 to noon on Thanksgiving to allow people who had forgotten something to get what they needed for their meal.  Most the cashiers and workers used their seniority to take the day off, so the more junior people on the Big Bear payroll — like me — had to work.  But because the older women who typically manned the cash registers were off, I got to run one of the checkout lanes.  And, most importantly for a cash-strapped 16-year-old, I got paid double-time wages for working on a holiday.

The store was busy that Thanksgiving morning, but not overwhelmingly so.  More importantly, every customer who stopped by for another package of stuffing or sticks of butter or a bag of potatoes was incredibly polite.  They were genuinely grateful the Big Bear was open, and when I sincerely wished them a Happy Thanksgiving they responded in kind.  I even got a few tips for bagging, which was unprecedented.

After the shift was over I went home to my Thanksgiving meal, with a few extra dollars in my pocket and some holiday cheer in my heart.  I didn’t mind working on Thanksgiving Day one bit.