Black Friday: Dreamland or Nightmare?

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Black Friday. Or as my coworkers and I wrote on the calendar, “death Friday.” The newest American tradition is to trample people for low priced HDTV’s and digital cameras the day after we gather around a table to give thanks for everything we already have. Although I must admit the temptation of half-off fashion and electronics is irresistible, what does it mean for people who have to work Black Friday?
Though I now reside in Marshall, my family is still all in the Twin Cities. The night before Thanksgiving we all worked late, preparing our store’s “signature bundle packages,” putting up gaudy price tags, and making sure mountains of toys and TV’s didn’t topple on customers.
It was mandatory we all helped out, meaning that if I wanted to go home, it would be 2 a.m. by the time I got there. Most of you know that the price of gas, though lowering, is still sky-high. To get from Marshall to St. Paul in my car takes about a half a tank of gas. In monetary terms, this is about $35. To turn around and make the same $35 trip six hours later is pretty unreasonable for someone with rent, loans and bills to pay. Especially when you have to get up at 4 a.m. the next day.
I’m a saleswoman; I get paid on commission. This means I have to put extra time into my minimum wage job to look appealing and professional to sell things successfully. I sell twice as much when I wear a skirt rather than pants. I’m not sure the last time you entertained hundreds of customers in a mandatory 12 hour shift in dress shoes and a skirt, but I can tell you by the end of the day you’re dog tired. Keeping a high energy level with that many people is exhausting.
It wasn’t all bad, though. I managed to snag some sweet deals on my brief break, and my store, my paycheck and my coworkers all did really well. And I hate to admit it, but I even had a little fun, competing over high-ticket customers with coworkers, helping people pick out gifts and getting in the holiday spirit. But I have a request: next year I’d like to be able to go home for Thanksgiving.

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