12/24/2005

The Most Important Unsung Heroes Working On Christmas

My ex called the other day, wanting to know if had had to work Friday, so she could drop off the kids before she gets them back on Christmas eve. When I told her that I had to work all day, she couldn't believe it, as this was the Friday before Christmas eve, which, as far as I can remember, is not a holiday at all. Continuing with that logic, no one would work at all in December, as every day is the day before the day before the day before, etc. The who would work the stores for all the shoppers?
There will be some people working on Christmas, however. Our soldiers will still be overseas. Policemen and firemen and other emergency workers will have to be on the job. Hospitals will still need to be staffed. It used to be that your local pastor had to work, but some curches will be closed this Christmas, which strikes me as being odd, given that this is the Holiest of days in the Christian religion.(I wonder if Bill O'Reilly's church will be open? That is, if he even attends a church, and if he does, do you think he'll be there this Sunday?)
But the most important people working this Christmas are none of the above. No, the most important people working this Christmas are all the unsung heroes manning the gas stations across the country. Thousands of people will be traveling that day, bearing gifts in celebration of Mammon in their Sport Utility Behemoths. Given that Starbucks will be closed, some of them may need a cup of coffee, and will have to make do without their lattes and have to drink regular coffee. Their gas guzzling vehicles will need to be refueled at some point on that day, or perhaps their princes and princesses, having had too much oj for breakfast, will have to make a rest stop because they just can't hold it until Grandma's.
When I was married, and had to travel across the state, we always stop at a station, and I found that most of the people working that day were divorced grandma's themselves, taking the opportunity to make time and a half (which is still less than most of us make on regular time) to help fund the wad they blew on their grandchildren at Christmas, which was cut short because grandma had to work. And in the face of obnoxious stressed out travellers, they have to put on a happy face while some yuppie complains about his coffee, or when they have to mop the rest room because some child who had gorged on too much Christmas candy blows chunks all over the place.
When I was a child, most of the world shut down on Christmas, with church being the only place open. If there was a gas station open, it was the only one in a twenty mile radius, and all they sold was gas, and maybe cigarettes and soda, and maybe there was a mechanic on duty, should you be having car problems (Back then, every service station had a mechanic on duty, or on call. Boy do I feel old). And being the only place open meant they did a good business. Eventually, other similar businesses saw that and decided they wanted a cut, too. They removed the mechanic and filled his space with an over priced mini grocery/convenience store. By golly, if they were going to be open (and pay a minmum wage cashier time and a half to run it), they were going to soak everybody they could take advantage of for every nickel in their desparate pockets.
So this Christmas, as you're travelling down that rural two lane highway between point 'a' and point 'b', and you need an over priced pain reliever because you've heard "Rocking Around The Christmas Tree" one too many times this season, remember to salute the single mom behind the cash register who sacrificed time with her children so you could have the convenience of not planning ahead.

2 comments:

tp said...

I think that the issue is that people need to stop shopping on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and maybe the people wouldn;t be pressured to work. Clearly its profitable to be open such days and thats because of the people who shop and complicate their lives instead of staying home. Some people though do not value or celebrate these holidays and figure why not work?
We cannot make assumptions about what people give up- for that single mother maybe she doesn;t have her kids anyway because they are with their dad and she figures earn some money to help provide.
Nobody lives near anyone anymore, why don't you question the people that move away and have no day to day involvement with family forcing them to drive all around every holiday. People choose jobs over being near family because those are their values in their hierarchies.

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