Profits over people

As we enter the holiday season for yet another year, I see signs that the corporate overlords of America really don’t give a rat’s ass about the people who actually labor and toil so their stock shares appreciate and earn money they don’t have to lift a finger to earn.

First, I remember way back when stores were not open on Thanksgiving Day.  I remember when that was a day where people actually got to spend time at home with their families, sitting around the dinner table, and sharing laughter over huge helpings of turkey and dressing/stuffing.  There was the kids table, where all the young kids laughed and told jokes.  There was the grown up table, where the talk and beverages were a bit more mature.  There was also the group that ate in front of the TV enjoying the food and football games at the same time.

Now, instead of having that family time, people actually have to go to work at places like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and other retail outlets.  When I worked retail, there were at least two guaranteed off days in a calendar year, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.  That time now seems as archaic as using an abacus to figure out math problems.

There are outbreaks of protest here and there, but without a nationwide, organized effort, those protests are nothing more than nuisances that can easily be discarded in the minds of the corporate leaders.  For example, take Tony Rohr and the stand he took against his employer, Pizza Hut.

Mr. Rohr worked for Pizza Hut for more than 10 years, working his way up from being a cook all the way to becoming general manager of the Jackson Boulevard Pizza Hut in Elkhart, Indiana.  Upon being informed that opening on Thanksgiving was mandatory, Mr. Rohr decided to stand up for his employees and told his superiors he would not open his location on Thanksgiving Day.

After Rhor said that he would not open the Pizza Hut restaurant in Elkhart, his bosses demanded that he sign a letter of resignation. But he refused, instead writing a letter of his own.

“I am not quitting,” he wrote. “I do not resign however I accept that the refusal to comply with this greedy, immoral request means the end of my tenure with this company.”

“I hope you realize that it’s the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible,” Rohr added.

With a mindset like that, I predict Mr. Rohr will likely land a job with a company like Chick-Fil-A or a similar run company.  There are still a few out there that actually care about their employees and treat them as something more than a profit generator.

If you feel the need to go out shopping on Thanksgiving Day for any reason, please thank the people working for taking the time away from their family to be there so you can shop.  Granted, there are jobs where there is no “off day” on holidays.  Hospitals stay open, the police and fire departments still have to be ready to respond, and the airlines will fly as long as the weather allows safe flight.  I’m not that old, and things must really be changing if I can have that feeling of innocence lost over the holiday period.

Will we have to get visited by three different ghosts in order to come to our senses that profits are not the be all to end all?  I’ve grown accustomed to having to work 365 days of the year because of my line of work.  That said, I don’t think the entire country needs to be a 365 day country.  We need to return to the days where family time was accorded and appreciated by all.  Life isn’t all about collecting the most money and finishing first.  The greatest joy in life is enjoying the journey and the sights along the way, not getting to the final destination.  As long as we continue to indulge the mindset that profits matter more than people, we will continue to cheat ourselves of the greatest joys of living.

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3 thoughts on “Profits over people

  1. Ah, Brosephus, I am old enough to remember when no stores were open on Sunday, & the retailers only stayed open one evening per week. Yes, it was a simpler time, but not better in so many ways – racism & sexism are two that come to mind. Not to mention that the minimum wage was $1.95 per hour. Sigh
    I saw that story about the Pizza Hut manager – good for him!

    If you do have to work tomorrow, thank you. If not, have a lovely day with your family.

    BTW, In case you missed my post at Jay’s, I am so thankful to the young Smyrna police officer who cam to help me Friday evening. He was gentle & kind, & treated me as I bet he treats his own grandma.

    • I saw that but didn’t get a chance to comment. I tip my hat to that gentleman. There are far too many examples of less than honorable behavior from officers. It’s always good to see and hear about the good things.

      I’ll be at work bright and early tomorrow. The good thing is, by the time most people get started with breakfast, I’ll be halfway through my shift. I’ll still have the afternoon and evening to spend with the family. Thanks to the insight of the front office people, the Mrs. Brosephus has to work overnight for the Black Friday sales. I can’t wait to see her leave retail behind.

      Enjoy your day tomorrow, and if I don’t get a chance to speak with you, have a Happy Thanksgiving Day!!

  2. Where to begin? Like M H above, I remember when everything was closed on Sunday but when I started working, minimum wage was $1.60 but that $1.60 went farther than the current $7.25 does. (And don’t forget when somebody stiffs a waiter or waitress, their minimum is $2.13 with 8% of the ticket withheld for taxes). Grocery stores stayed open late (9 PM) on Friday only, in my world. Everybody still managed to buy their groceries and get their business done. As a former employer of mine used to say, “If I can’t make a living in 6 days, I’m not going to make it in 7, either”.

    It’s interesting that we hear these businesses “have to do this to compete”, yet Chick-Fil-A, which you cite, has a balance sheet that does very well, without it.

    In the long run, the shoppers are the only people who can change this and let’s face it, most folks don’t give a damn about what effect their actions have on other people, as long as they are getting what they want.

    So I’ll continue to not shop on Sundays or holidays and I’m smart enough to realize it won’t make a bit of difference but I’m responsible for nobody’s actions but my own and I’m doing what I can, even if it has no effect. It’s a windmill that I think is worth tilting at. If only people would do unto others just like most of us were taught.

    Here’s a pretty good column, in the same vein as what you wrote. Maybe the tide will turn, however slowly it may be.

    http://www.arcamax.com/politics/kathleenparker/s-1431243

    And a Happy Thanksgiving to all that might read my rambling. 😉

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