By Melissa Burnham and Joseph Murphy
You don’t even think about it, do you? You’re running to a Bakery Christmas morning to grab some breakfast for your family. But there’s a person sitting behind the counter who’d do anything to be with their family. They don’t have to be there you’ll probably think, to reassure yourself, they probably celebrate Hanukkah and are just working today for the extra pay.
But the fact is, most of them actually celebrate Christmas, and they don’t even get paid overtime. Retailers aren’t required to give the day off, and usually don’t. It can be a fireable offense, even if you call in sick, or for a family matter.
Gaby Duran had to learn the hard way, she was fired from her job at a bakery. It was simple, she had committed to working on Christmas, but called in a week in advance to tell the bakery that she couldn’t attend. If she had been talking about missing any other day she probably wouldn’t have gotten fired, but it was Christmas. The news had been sudden for Gaby too, she had to drive her dad to the airport. This wasn’t a want or preference even, she didn’t have a choice in the matter, but the bakery didn’t even hesitate to fire her on the spot.
Retail jobs are known to be low-paying, trying and one of the worst jobs. You have to deal with long and inconvenient hours, and nasty customers all while putting a big smile on your face. Christmas time is even worse, as every frantic last minute gift shopper takes their stress out on workers just trying to do their job.
But most retailers need these jobs, they don’t have choice as to whether or not they serve you. Gaby needed this money too, the paycheck from her job paid for things many of us will take for granted this holiday season, like bills, personal necessities, and Netflix. Without this job, she might have to go without some of the things no one should.
Gaby didn’t enjoy her job, but viewed it as a necessity, so she worked hard and dedicated herself. She said “The most frustrating part was that I hated it and I still put 100% into it and they fired me on the spot.” Loyalty didn’t matter to the bakery when they fired her the week before Christmas. The Holiday Season, a time when people are supposed to be kind and generous.
So next time you rush into many of the open retail stores Christmas morning, give an extra smile to the retail workers. It’s not a choice for them, as many are working to keep a roof over their family's heads and presents under the tree. They’re missing out on holiday memories, baking cookies and hanging ornaments, memories they’ll never get back.