The Dangers of Black Friday
by Alyssa Jackson | published Oct. 18th, 2013
Every year, Black Friday atrocities are reported. According to Latinos Post, in 2012 two individuals were shot in outside of a Walmart in Tallahassee, Fla.. In 2011, over 20 shoppers, including children, were injured at a Walmart in Los Angeles after another shopper sprayed pepper spray, according to USA Today. The Daily mail reported in 2010 that a man was trampled in a Target in Buffalo, NY. This list goes on.
It’s no secret that Black Friday is dangerous to the shoppers that are involved. What I want to talk about is the poor and unethical treatment of the thousands of individuals who are forced (and when I say forced I do mean it) to work on Black Friday every year. I used to be one of those employees.
The summer of 2012 I began cashiering at a Walmart near my hometown. While there, I heard the horror stories of Black Friday and how awful it was for employees. My coworkers told me that they were not given a choice; they had to work at least 12 hours on Black Friday. They said that they were told by the managers at Walmart that if they did not work they would be fired.
I was also told that during the 12 hour overnight shift they were only allowed one break to eat food. During the shift they were not allowed to leave the registers to go to the bathroom because it was too busy and Walmart couldn’t afford to shut down a register. Take a moment to imagine standing on your feet for 12 hours overnight with one 45 minute break to eat something and go to the bathroom.
Although I left Walmart before I ever experienced a Black Friday there, I worked at Target during the 2012 Black Friday and the horrors weren’t much different. I was not allowed to request Black Friday off and was scheduled to work from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. I received one 45 minute break to eat and two 15 minute breaks throughout the night.
Shoppers don’t understand that Black Friday ruins the Thanksgivings of thousands of families throughout the nation. During Thanksgiving Day I was trying to nap and prepare myself for the night I had ahead of me rather than spend time with my family that had driven from a different state for the holiday. I ended up missing out on a lot of memories and a lot of delicious food.
The physical toll of working for such a long period of time overnight is gruesome. When my shift finally ended, I threw up because of exhaustion. In addition, I don’t remember my drive home from work, a dangerous situation. I slept for an entire 24 hours and when I did finally wake up I was still sick and my entire body hurt.
Black Friday is incredibly unethical, not only for the shoppers but for the employees that are subjected to harsh working conditions and are forced to miss out on time with their families. I encourage everyone who is planning to shop this Black Friday not to. If you really feel adamantly that you need those boots that are on sale, remember to be kind to the employees at the store you’re shopping at. Instead of getting angry at that cashier who double scanned one of your items or yelling at that employee for pointing you in the wrong direction, give them a smile and remind yourself that they’re going through hell simply so that you can shop. And they’re probably only making $8 an hour to do so.
This year I won’t be working or shopping on Black Friday. I’ll be spending the day with my family, giving thanks for what I already have and boycotting the stores that are open.