Pandemic Thanksgiving

Nov 18, 2020 by

Eight days from today is Thanksgiving and the pandemic’s insult to our collective serenity abides.  Our intimate family settings will be carried out under a pall of restrictions as we focus compellingly on gratitude and compulsively on mass discontent.  We are antsy for respite.

In past years, I’ve urged readers to boycott on Thanksgiving those establishments that don’t close on the holiday or give their employees a paid day off with bonus money if they choose to work. After all,  if fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s are hungrier for a buck than a ravenous customer for a burger, they should be chastened.

They’d claim that they’re actually performing a public service and that any resulting profit is incidental to their commercially ingenious policy for addressing the epidemic of isolation in the City where so many people are alone and without a place to go for emotional succor or feast.

But in 2020, with so much unemployment contributing to our misery and with even the most prosperous chains under economic siege, we should patronize them and bear gifts, even if just in the form of a verbal expression of appreciation, to their workers.  Protesting their being open for business on Thanksgiving would not be consistent with the wish to see them thrive or at least minimally sustained for the good of their labor force.

Perhaps on Thanksgiving 2021, we will again witness the greed of a fast-food restaurant chain staying open to rake in the coupons of their competitors that are closed out of respect for the holiday and its workers.  Maybe the surrounding world will allow for a reversion to the Game of Corporate Thrones.  But for now and for Christmas next month, let those grub syndicates be the beneficiaries of our open wallets.

The decision to close or stay open does not affect only restaurants.  The same principle applies to any box store. Let’s make this year the “blackest of “Black Fridays”!

PC Richard, the “appliance giant” started the trend of closing their stores on Thanksgiving many years ago, in deference to the wholesome sentimentality of the occasion.  It has a tonic effect on one’s outlook to witness a business showing humanity as at least a partial contributing motive for their actions.

For instance, the now defunct J and R store, located near the World Trade Center, reportedly continued to pay its employees for an extended period of time after they were forced to close in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
New Yorkers should confer the blessing of their purchases on proprietors who  generously compensate their workers, not only in salary but also the “psychic wage”. In most years, that would entail their being padlocked on Thanksgiving so that their employees can bond with family and friends and practice the values that the holiday represents and do so without fear of discouragement.

In this Year of the Virus, it almost amounts to a charitable policy to keep their stores open for business.  But in doing so, there should still be no coercion of employees to clock in and no favoritism shown to those who sacrifice a Thanksgiving at home to report to work.

And employees should get double their hourly pay.  Not because it is required by law, because it isn’t.  But out of the spirit of decency that we all need in mega-doses during this protracted season of tribulation.

Ron Isaac

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