Holidays are all one in the same at this point. The lesser holidays are divided by the ones you get paid time and a half for working and the ones that are inconvenient because they don’t pertain to you, but your bus line decides to change schedules and places you need to be decide to be closed anyway. The big ones like Christmas and Halloween become one fluid year of stress and disappointment as the masses of shoppers try desperately to not be one of the statically disappointed on that major day.
The only thing that makes working on holidays worth it, aside from the paycheck, is the free food. Most places are decent enough to remember that their employees are human beings and that food is the best way to both reward and satisfy them on these extremely hectic days. And every retail establishment I’ve worked for has always managed to have something. Pizza, sandwich fixings, coffee and donuts, or anything to give you that extra incentive for having to work from midnight to seven in the morning so that little Jimmy can watch the Wiggles on his iPad come X-mas morning.
There are some from problems with free food, of course. Mainly that you’re competing with about fifty other employees, if you’re lucky. Sometimes the managers only order enough food for one shift and the people who work in the morning or in the evenings can go fuck themselves. Sometimes there’s so little actual management on the floor that you have to do to get anything to eat is to really suck at your job. If your lucky, your supervisors actually want you to eat and they’ll arrange everyone’s break schedule so that everyone gets a fair shot at the sumptuous banquet. I don’t even want to imagine how the really large “super” stores, that have enough employees on hand that the building could qualify as it’s own township pull these free food events off but I imagine they can make the Hunger Games look like a family fun summer activity.
Where I work right now, really wins the competition of places with the best Free Food Days. They always make sure there’s enough so that everyone working any shift can eat and drink and be satisfied. There’s usually a variety of food, so even people with dietary concerns and possible allergies don’t have to be left out. And there’s usually enough that by the end of your shift, you’re not going to be seen as a total asshole for filling up your Tupperware.
This is one that I’m always on the fence with. I know every store in this company is different and ours does something special on Sunday mornings for people who come in to put up the ad signs for the week. We get free coffee, donuts and bagels. This particular thing is only in the morning and only on Sundays, but it’s fair because those people come in early to make sure that you, our shoppers, know what’s on sale and what the special offers are. (Although it would help if you people actually read the fucking things to avoid confusion at the check lanes, but that’s another story for another time)
One Sunday morning, a guy who usually gets stiffed for hours came in with a grocery bag and filled it up with bagels. I sympathize with him because he has been there for a while and he does kind of get the shaft when it comes to getting his hours every week. But he’s not the only one that does this and he’s not the only person in the store who struggles for hours. Everyone can help themselves to a bagel, donut, or coffee but this special arrangement is really for the ad people. Why do they deserve to be screwed over?
During those free food days, I’ll take food home, but not until the end of my shift and only on the days when they’ve ordered so much that it’s going to go to waste. During the day, or during my regular shift, I give everyone their fair shot at a chance to eat. I could see saving a portion for later, or grabbing one or two bagels just in case. At that point it just comes down to personal choices. I figure if you’re so hungry that a pair of tongues and a Gladware container is how you’re putting food on the table, you have options. Food stamps. Food banks. Getting a second job or something.
But Free Food days are not My Personal Free Groceries day.