Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Black Thursday

Shopping is taking over the holidays. This, of course, isn't news. But retailers just seem to want more and more. Opening at 6 a.m. or 5 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving wasn't enough. This year, there are more retailers that are opening on Thanksgiving Day. Don't we all have enough gross consumerism surrounding Christmas? Can't we keep one day pure? Apparently not.

Thanksgiving is a great holiday. It's certainly one of my favorites. It's the holiday that has no gifts, no expectations or requirement of good weather, nothing but a huge meal and some football. It's a day that you're supposed to reflect on what you are thankful for and be with loved ones and eat until you can't move.

Part of what makes it great is that almost everyone has the day off, as well as Friday, so you have the glorious long weekend. If your family is out-of-town, it's a good chance to visit, and even if you stay in town, you can slow down a bit. You've just made a huge meal, and the leftovers will get you through most of the weekend without having to cook. Sure, you'll probably want to knock out some of the Christmas shopping, but you have all weekend. But now, retailers want to push shopping on all for the entire weekend.

It's gross. I feel bad for all those people who have to work on those days, because they don't get to relax on Thanksgiving Day. They can't travel to visit anyone, no doubt they can't fully participate in dinner as they have to rest before working crazy holiday hours, because some CEO decided that they needed a little more cash for the bottom line. (I found this quote from Kathy Grannis, a spokeswoman for the National Retail foundation: "Shoppers have shown us that they love wrapping up their Thanksgiving meals, grabbing their coats, and going shopping." I'm willing to bet a large chunk of cash that ol' Kathy isn't going to be leaving her Thanksgiving meal early to open the doors at the local Target.) I read an article that said that the only people who are working are those who volunteered, which must be true because there are at quite a few Wal-marts and Sears that aren't opening because they didn't get enough volunteers to work on Thanksgiving Day (that was sarcasm.)

The thing I'm confused about is why. Why are they doing this? All these places have on-line presence. Can't we do this on-line, instead of forcing employees who are so desperate for money to give up a holiday? Costco seems to be able to do it. Amazon doesn't even have stores, and they've been known to sell a few items around the holidays. Do we have to camp out in front of Toys R Us to have a merry Christmas?

What are the stores actually getting here? Is this really making any difference to the bottom line? Somehow, I just can't believe it. Yeah, they get their store mentioned in the papers, a few folks pay a little less for another tv, but I don't know what the retailers are actually making. We all know that a lot of these door-buster specials have little or no profit for the companies, so are they turning on the lights and paying the employees for any actual profit?

I'll tell what they're getting from me: I've decided that I'm not doing any pre-Christmas shopping at any store (or their on-line version) that's open on Thanksgiving. It might be a boycott of one, but it's got to start somewhere. I'm not going to lie: it's going to suck. I love Target but none for me this holiday season. No more Old Navy (and Gap) for a while. Sorry kids, nothing from Toys R Us this year. No quick run to Kmart for lights or whatever. Maybe if some of us don't encourage this, we can get Thanksgiving back.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Morning Quarterback

The election is over and now it's time to figure out what happened. It's actually pretty simple: there's a group of older, rich white guys running the GOP and the closer you are to being them, the more likely you were to vote for them. Unfortunately for them, more and more people are less and less like them. 

Here's the problem with the GOP model: they're clinging to that cool-kid model of the '50s. (I know the GOP is completely not cool, but hold on for a minute.) The GOP thinks that everything is still like high school in the '50s. You have this group of popular kids: the star quarterback, head cheerleader, etc, and they run everything. It might be just a handful of kids, but everyone looked at them and were all, "if only we were them." They set the standard, ran student council, all of it. Very "Revenge of the Nerds". You didn't have to appeal to the minorities or gays or dope-smokers because they all actually wanted to be you and expected you to run things.

But now, for so many reasons (more minorities, people out of the closet openly, the internet showing someone that they are not alone), the "outcasts" don't want to listen to the self-proclaimed Big Man on Campus. As one of the folks I follow on twitter pointed out "it's no longer subversive to smoke pot at a gay wedding." The fringe folks are realizing that they're not so "fringe" after all. "You're not like the popular kids? Hey, me too!" Things like gay marriage are passing, mostly because most people don't care who other people are marrying. They certainly don't want other people to be making judgments about their lives. I think younger people (the ones that don't fully get the whole '50s mindset because that might as well be Victorian times) are confused about the idea of even voting on something like that. 

The GOP is genuinely befuddled that there are girls like me who don't want to be homecoming queen or cheerleader, even if it were offered to me. They don't understand that I actually do want to work and have a good job and not have to rely on a man to take care of me. They don't get that the gay guys don't secretly wish they weren't. (Even moreso, they don't secretly wish that meathead quarterback *was*.) I'm not saying that we're this super-tolerant society, but I do think that we are a society that, for the most part, really doesn't care what you are doing most of the time. Smoke dope? Whatever. Sleep with people your same sex? Shrug. You're not actually an American yet? If you're getting your work done and you're not causing trouble, what do I care?

That's the difference in message: The democrats say "we'll help you be what you want to be" whereas the GOP is "we'll help you be that 1950s thing!" Guess which one speaks to more people?