Worldwide Discussion:

Are you one of those who may have ruined Thanksgiving for thousands of people across America?

Did you actually go out and shop on Thanksgiving? Did you actually swap the opportunity for a family gathering, or a longer family gathering, in order to gobble up whatever “bargains” you could find at your friendly (but not family friendly) Big Box Store?

I mean, really. Did you?

Because if you did, you are among the reasons why more and more major American retailers than ever before required their employees to work last Thursday, having decided to open their doors on the day before “Black Friday” and its usual calamity of gluttony.

In case you don’t remember (or never knew), “Black Friday” got its name contemporarily from being the day that many businesses moved their accounts for the year from the red into the black. Merchants put everything but the kitchen sink on sale at very low prices to clear their shelves of stock and clear their books of loss.

A fairly recent “tradition,” it took on its name in a more widespread way somewhere in the mid-1970s, when stores not only put stuff on sale, but began opening their doors earlier and earlier on this day. Most recently, this trend has seen stores opening at 5 a.m., and then 4 a.m. — and now, in the most egregious grab for profits ever seen even in a country wallowing in consumerism, the evening of Thanksgiving…

…and in some cases, at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.

Some of the major retailers that decided to open their doors — and invite employees to leave families and friends in order to work — on Thanksgiving this year were: Walmart, Target, K-Mart, Toys ‘R Us, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Office Max, Sears, JCPenny, Gap, Old Navy, Best Buy, Banana Republic, Staples, and Michael’s.

I hope that none of you — not a single one of you — helped those stores to justify doing the same thing again next year by shopping there this year on this holiday. Did you know that the United States is the only advanced country in the world that doesn’t guarantee that all workers get paid vacation time?

How much farther are we as humans willing to go in quest of Bigger-Better-More? Is nothing to be sacred? Not even traditional family times — which are becoming fewer and farther between as it is?

I hope none of you shopped anywhere on so-called Black Friday, either. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have taught huge money-grubbing corporations a lesson about what humanity values most?

Some of the companies listed above tried to get out of the obvious horrible “p.r.” rub-off of inviting workers to be at their stations on Thanksgiving by saying that their employees were excited and happy about the extra hours for extra pay. But when you’re making Walmart level salaries, that’s understandable. Throwing someone a log in the middle of a raging river is better than throwing them a rock. But why put them in the middle of the raging river in the first place? Oh yes, of course. Profits.

I love the note that the general manager of a Pizza Hut in Elkhart, Indiana wrote to his superiors when he refused to keep his local store open (and his employees working) on Thanksgiving. He claims to have been ordered by his boss to write a letter of resignation, but instead wrote a letter telling the “higher ups” why Pizza Hut should remain closed on the holiday.

The man, Tony Rohr, had worked at Pizza Hut for 10 years, working his way up to his management position. He said that Thanksgiving and Christmas were the only two days of the year that Pizza Hut was traditionally closed, and that he was not going to take one of those two guaranteed holidays away from his employees.

When he didn’t write a letter of resignation, he said that he was fired outright. The Indiana management says that he resigned. However the incident is framed, it backfired hugely on Pizza Hut when Mr. Rohr’s letter went viral on the Internet.

The national Pizza Hut office quickly back-peddled from the position taken by its Indiana franchisee, saying it had made a serious error in judgment, and strongly recommending that it keep the store closed on Thanksgiving (as with most Pizza Huts nationwide), and further, offer Mr. Rohr his job back. The Elkhart store quickly did both.

What I love in Mr. Rohr’s letter was his closing comment. Said he: “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 it’s the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible.”

The people at the top of the corporate ladder probably did not go into work on Thanksgiving, nor probably even on the day after, preferring to take a long holiday weekend. But then, when you’re making two million dollars or more a year to make the decision to keep your stores open on the holiday, I guess you can afford to do that…


(Mr. Rohr had not decided at this writing whether to accept the invitation to have his job back. Pizza Hut is owned by Yum! Brands, one of the world’s largest fast food restaurant companies, with 40,000 stores worldwide. It also owns KFC and Taco Bell, as well as WingStreet restaurants.)

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  • mewabe

    Going shopping to buy cheap junk rather than spending time with family and friends?

    This is totally logical within a culture and social system that disregards or suppresses people’s REAL NEEDS to replace them with ARTIFICIAL WANTS.

    People suppress their real needs every day when they go slave at a job they hate. After many years of this training, which begins in childhood in school, most do not even remember what their real needs are…but they are offered artificial cravings and the means to satisfy those through mindless consumerism, which is as a reward for their voluntary slavery.

    The suppression of real needs starts in early school training with the destruction of individual self worth. When self worth has been damaged, it is then easy to manipulate the masses into acquiring an “image”, a “lifestyle”, a “status” through consumerism.

    A strong person needs not buy $500 shoes to feel worthy. A strong person can live in rags in a hut with a dirt floor. But a person who has gone through the cultural meat grinder that is modern society becomes desperate to HAVE what he no longer IS.

    In other words a modern person substitutes HAVING for BEING. As Russell Means once said she/he becomes a HUMAN HAVING rather than a HUMAN BEING.

    Consequently BEING with family and friends is no longer more important than HAVING stuff.

    • Michael L

      Not at all. they are kind and loving. Thanks.

      • mewabe

        Do you mean it? Thanks Michael…

        • Michael L

          Hi mewabe,

          Is not the truth the kindest thought you can write?

          Some folks can see it from other points of view, but you have nothing to apologize for unless you hurt someone with it. Then you have to take the consequences of the pain you caused (by your truth) and have a more loving conversation with them.

          I find that just throwing you truth out without preparing yourself to take the consequences is just cowardly.

          • mewabe

            I agree…although as you probably know some people will get offended by anything, just because they want to take that stance, they want to pose as the offended person.

            I do not write to offend or antagonize, I speak from the heart…with some passion, but not wanting to be mean.

            But the truth often hurts, as we all have heard…it hurts me too. Kindness does not always come as sweet…it can come in the form of the cleaning and scraping of an infected wound…a very unpleasant and painful but necessary task.

    • Patricia Robinson

      NO MAN…you are so very right…so very right. REVOLUTIONARY OR NOT, THEY NEED TO BE SAID. That’s what’s wrong with this whole country…they don’t listen to what is right. You sir are so very right. I believe if we all, everyone in this country, just for 2-3 days, did NOTHING…and I mean NOTHING ,,, no gas, not buying, no working, no NOTHING… watch and see what would happen. We need to wake people up and look at what THEY are doing. Puppets!!! Followers!!! having to have!!! It is so true. I am 73 and have very little income, and I am as happy as a lark. I could give a hoot what others have, and I just sit back and watch and see, and what a mess. I have four children, 12 grand-children, and 6 great grandchildren and I pray each and every day that some body wakes up and looks at their children and realizes that ……LOVE THEM FOR WHO THAY ARE NOT WHAT THEY FEEL THEY NEED. You don’t need anything but food and a comfortable clean place to lay your head. Look at what you have, you have YOU you have YOUR CHILDREN, who cares if you don’t have a new car or even a car at all…..your have life. Yes you need a JOB TO HAVE YOUR NEEDS MET BUT IT’S THE OVER-DOING IT THAT MAKES LIFE SO WRONG. God Bless you mewabe, and thank you.

      • mewabe

        Thank you Patricia…
        Yes, marketing targets the young, their biggest “market”…because most young people are desperate to conform in order to “belong”, to be accepted, and apply peer pressure on one another, and pressure on their parents to get them the latest stuff.

        Yes, refusing to participate, for a few days or a few weeks…making the machine stop, going way beyond a general strike and stopping all consumption. That’s where the political power of the people lay, in such a non violent, legal, and yet devastatingly effective method of forcing a government to listen to the specific demands of a population.

        But the people would have to first know what they are demanding…and for this they would first have to know who they are. They would have to get back in touch with their basic humanity. And the machine, the soul grinding system, won’t let them.

        As John Trudell says, the system mines our spirits. What it does to the land (extracting resources) it also does to us, reducing us to being just another resource meant for exploitation, to being a bunch of coupons as Russel Means jokingly said. THE SYSTEM FEEDS ON US, as does any predator.

        The new age, so called “spiritual” teachings that focus on the increase of personal wealth and on individual achievements and success are an integral part of the system and support it…THIS IS OBSOLETE THINKING!!!!…these new age teachings are as misguided as anything could ever be at this time, and as dangerous as the belief that we can go on expanding economies based on endless growth, on endless exploitation, production and consumption.

        However, I don’t see humanity learning anything anytime soon but through the hard way, through global failure. So I welcome any earth change, any climate change, any wake up call from nature, because nothing else will do it. And I also welcome these things because, in the on going, centuries old war of civilization against nature, I WANT TO SEE NATURE WIN! (because I am nature, and I definitively am not this civilization)

  • Lenora Dinunzi

    I have refused to shop on any holiday for years now. I did go out one Black Friday morning years ago and felt terrible afterwards. I agree with Neale that not ONE of the executives worked on Thursday and probably took Friday off, too. And the only reason the stores are open is because our consumer minded society has people out buying, buying and buying. The weeks before Christmas tend to depress me as I hear Christmas carols on the radio as early as mid-November, and the media blasts us with constant need of the “must haves”. I hope people will wake up and stop the nonsense, but from what I saw on the news today, everyone is still asleep.

  • Michael L

    Love your writings Neale on this subject.

    That said… at the end, you last thoughts see petty. I would say that the corporate types probably were working for that bottom line, they are looking out for their share holders best interest and did work on Thanksgiving.

    40% of their yearly sales is still enough to get them motivated. I would think.

    • mewabe

      Indeed Michael I believe greed is seen at all levels of society…Whether someone amasses hundreds of millions of dollars or a ton of cheap junk in his garage to the point that he can no longer park his car in it, or acquires a house he cannot afford, it is all the SAME greed, the same pathology manifesting itself in varying degrees.

      The rich suffers from the very same inability to be satisfied as the poor…the same inability to be grateful and appreciate what s/he already has…the same inability to BE, and the same endless desire to HAVE, as our worldwide civilization is based on endless production/consumption, that is to say on perpetual dissatisfaction.

      The satisfied individual (satisfied and grateful) could easily nap under a coconut tree most of the time, and only move to attend to basic needs and share his/her life and joy and love with others…in celebration and/or to attend to those in need of help.

      But then, we would not have such a civilization…a situation that, from my point of view, would be greatly preferable (there are different kinds of civilizations…there are materialistic, technological civilizations like ours…and there are civilizations of the heart, of the Spirit).

      • Awareness

        “civilizations of the HEART, of the SPIRIT” 🙂

    • Erin

      Yeah…Saw that Dear Ol’ Dow Jones was a pretty happy camper…or rather, happy for all the campers. 🙂

  • Erin

    Blue Mondays, Black Fridays…All Pajama Days to me. 🙂
    (meaning I stay Home, in my jammies, relaxing with fam & friends.)

    Alas, there are still sooo many Sheeples in Our herds. Thankful to know no one was out there with me in mind. 🙂

  • Tom

    Great post, Neale. I’m of a different mind on this subject, however. First of all, no day is inherently more sacred than another regardless of what the calendar says. Similarly, there are many families who don’t have their big get-together on Thursday. Quite a few, due to various circumstances, do it later in the weekend. Next, in order to keep ill will to a minimum, a significant number of these companies ask for volunteers first, those who really are more than happy to work on these days. Additionally, as noted by others, there is obviously a demand for this, a great demand, in fact. Many people, women in particular, love the idea of bonding with their family members while hitting the streets and obtaining stuff. Finally, let’s not forget that there are thousands of others working on these days (nurses, firefighters, police, convenience store clerks) who are clear that working on the holidays is just something that comes with the territory.

    • mewabe

      Tom, I agree that no day is more sacred than another. However, beyond the question of whether it is fair to ask employees to volunteer to work extra hours on holidays, shouldn’t we question this addiction to mindless consumerism upon which our economies solely depend and which is ruining the planet?

      Furthermore, when stores do not just offer sales but offer deals to the first 50 people who set foot in the store and are able to grab the stuff, they are creating a rioting situation which can cause trampling and injuries, and which arouses the basest instincts of humanity.

      Of course, no one can stop people from behaving in an undignified manner ( like rats) if that’s what they choose. However, should they be encouraged, should their base instincts be ruthlessly exploited?

      • Tom

        Yes, I’m bothered as well by the degree of consumerism that exists in today’s society. One could say that the reason these people are out there is to purchase gifts for their loved ones, not necessarily themselves, but of course, even that could be construed as ego-centric (making yourself look better in another’s eyes by paying $50 for a gift the receiver believes you spent $100 on).
        I see commercials that say “Save 40% on such-and-such” and think, “You’ll save 100% if you don’t buy it”. Offering deeply discounted items to the first 50 or whatever does, indeed, play too much into the scarcity mindset and should not be used as a way to draw people into stores.

  • Awareness

    I sense that there is one choice that GOD cannot make:

    – GOD cannot choose to not exist. GOD cannot “un-exist” itself 🙂

    “Remember, Life is obedient to Three Basic Principles. Life is functional, adaptable, and sustainable. When it moves toward the edge of functionality—-when it cannot function much longer the way it is going—-it adapts. Life on earth is about to adapt. It cannot go on like it is. Something is going to have to change, and it will. Life will not let Life down. It will adapt.” – “TOMORROW’S GOD” by Neale Donald Walsch 🙂

    Bless ALL 🙂

    • Stephen mills

      And humans may not like the adaption that life takes to sustain itself,if life is threatened at the level of functionality ,the system will counteradapt in order to sustain itself,and you my freind ,may not like the way in which it does this.

      Tomorrow’s God .N D Walsch

      We are the little self never apart from the system that is the BIG SELF !

      The mistake we make is that we carry on without understanding the consequences of our collective and individual actions .