Societal Respect and Holiday Workers

I know you are all excited to hear about my first convention experience. The short story is that is was fantastic and I can’t wait to attend another. There’s a lot I have to say, but the nerdier topics will be saved for Sunday. Today, as we all go back to work after the holiday weekend, I want to touch on something that occurred to me as I checked into my hotel Friday.

The Forth of July was one of my favorite holidays as a kid. I loved getting the family together, catching candy at parades and cooking in the backyard. Walking through halls of cosplayers to my room, I realized there were a lot of people working on the holiday for the convention. There was the staff of Anime Midwest, who may or may not have been getting paid for their service (I saw plenty of emails asking for volunteers). In addition, there was the staff of the hotel, the cooks, maids and janitors.

I suppose this isn’t any different then any other holiday. The existence of a light turned on usually indicates there is at least one person in a power plant somewhere. That means even the big holidays, like Christmas and Easter, someone somewhere is working instead of spending quality time with their family.

My heart goes out to all those workers. Maybe the Forth of July isn’t too big of a deal, but there are big ones which I’m sure few would prefer to work. I wonder how right it is we make these people work and if there is even a way to allow all people the chance to be with their families for at least  some time over a holiday.

At my old job, my supervisor told me about time he spent in Israel. According to him, they are so serious about avoiding work on the Sabbath that they literally won’t go so far as to life a finger to turn on a light switch. Hotels are rigged for conveniences like lights and elevators to operate automatically. Since no one will push a button for the elevator, they run up and down, stopping at every floor along the way.

Of course, just like over here, the existence of electricity means someone is in a power plant somewhere. That area of the world isn’t the most peaceful either, meaning someone has to be watching the border. Allegedly (as in, according to my old supervisor), they have ‘gentiles,’ foreigners or people who are more liberal in their religious beliefs to work basic necessitates on the Sabbath. I guess that’s a little like what we do here. If having a specific holiday off or all of them off is important to you, can choose a job that offers that freedom. You might argue that some people fall into jobs that require working over holidays unintentionally, but if you are that serious, you still can choose refuse the job.

This photo, “The friendliest restaurant crew you ever saw!” is copyright (c) 2014 shankar s. and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license
This photo, “The friendliest restaurant crew you ever saw!” is copyright (c) 2014 shankar s. and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license

I have a friend who is intense about her religious beliefs. While looking for work during college, she turned down jobs who couldn’t guarantee her she’d never have to work on the Sabbath. Her attitude surprised me as I imagine someone else in her same situation who didn’t have their parents to lean on would have to take the job, regardless of the hours required. “Shame on them!” was her response, which took me aback. Really? Choosing to put food on the table for your family instead of sitting at home while they starve is the shameful action?

While I’m not sure how my friend feels about people who work over the Sabbath, but she never gave any indication she thinks less of people work work then. Sure, she said ‘shame on them,’ but she’s never treated me or anyone else differently for working over her Sabbath.

That’s quite different from the way servers are treated, as detailed on a blog called Sundays are the Worst. The blog has been taken down with a note saying it will relaunch in 2015, but I’ll give you the short synopsis. After receiving complaints about their congregations from servers at various restaurants, two religious leaders made the blog and opened it to servers. They asked them to tell their stories about what they experienced at work on Sundays.

Perhaps they are reevaluating the blog, since it was pretty horrible. Servers were regularly looked down upon by church goers on Sundays. These people, who, instead of going home to make a meal for themselves are choosing to sit in a restaurant, looked down upon those serving them for daring to work on the Sabbath. Regular stories told about groups of 10 or more people taking up most of a servers area for hours only to leave a religious brochure as tip.

Working server jobs, or any job that requires work over holidays or weekends, isn’t really ideal, but that doesn’t make those workers deserving of any less respect. Throughout history, the people who work jobs no one else wants have been looked down upon. I remember stories of those who worked with dead, preparing them for funerals and such, who lived on the outskirts of society. I wonder how that came to be. Is it a disrespect based on fear of the unknown?

Either way, I think respect is the way to go. The highest level of respect would be to do whatever is possible to avoid making others work on major holidays or any other day you don’t think people should work (outside of emergencies, my friend and her family never did anything that required people to work on the Sabbath. They wouldn’t go so far as to fill their tank with gas outside of emergencies). If that’s not possible or practical, please be kind and respectful of those hard workers. Like it or not, the world doesn’t stop for everyone on holidays. If you do something that makes someone work over a weekend or holiday, be sure to express your thanks and respect. Those hard workers deserve at least that much.

Do you know people who look down on those who work on holidays or the Sabbath? Why do you think cultures throughout history have looked down upon those who work in the jobs no one else wants? So you think it’s right people are required to work on holidays at all? What about on weekends or the Sabbath?


21 thoughts on “Societal Respect and Holiday Workers”

  1. I guess that people who don’t want to work on the Sabbath (gentile version) could always look for a job at Hobby Lobby. Except if you use birth control……

    1. I have worked as a server for several restaurants as well as Applebees and we were open every day including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Working on Christmas was pretty awful because like you said people do not appreciate servers the way they should. I was shocked at how rude a few customers were to me! We ran out of several ingredients and had to close early because we were one of the very few restaurants open for the holiday. I appreciate your post and will make an effort to appreciate those who work on holidays more. I am working my first job (in an office) and we have paid holidays. It’s a new concept to me and I thoroughly enjoy it. I think we should all make an effort to respect everyone who works no matter what it is they do. Every job matters. If no one worked in restaurants, we would not have the delightful convenience of eating somewhere other than a home or a lunch box.

  2. Many Christians somewhat misinterpret the Sabbath, whichever one they choose to do. Jesus is the example for all Christians. The disciples of Jesus picked from grain on a Sunday to eat as they passed through due to being hungry. They were criticized for this and Jesus pointed out that if this were the case of desecrating the Sabbath then even the priests in the temple did the same by working about their duties. Jesus also performed miracles on the Sabbath.

    Keeping the Sabbath holy does not mean to not do work. It means to remember the day to the Lord. Shepherds were exempt from the no work on Sundays as well. I find it a bit hypocritical of my fellow Christians to look down upon people anywhere when they themselves are going into the various restaurants and stores to purchase things making it necessary for people to work.

    People have to make a living.

    Much Respect

  3. Of course, this is a complicated issue. Modern society makes it pretty darn difficult for literally no one to work on holidays or holy days, as mentioned in the post. Plus, as it is now–in America, at least–we are acknowledging mostly Christian and Christian-ish holidays along with a handful of other government type holidays. If we wanted to really be fair, we would have to throw in all the holy days from all the other faiths as well. That could add up to a lot! Would that mean that we would try to fill the gap with non-religious folk–such as myself–who have no real “holy days?” That doesn’t seem right either. I think Ronovan makes a good point, about what it really means to keep the Holy Days holy. But I also think it would be nice to find a better balance of respect for the service workers, who are already getting paid less as it is, and then must work to serve the higher paid individuals who patronize the businesses on all their paid days off! Those holidays, as the post says, are not just about religion or government-decreed celebration; they are traditional times to see family and friends, or even just to relax (for those who can’t or don’t care to see their families).

    1. I’m not really sure what the right answer is. Everyone deserves respect for their work and they deserve some amount of holidays to be with family and friends. My heart just goes out to them, because it must be hard to see families enjoying themselves when you can’t do the same with your own family.

  4. I have the greatest respect for people who work on public holidays and over the weekend.

    I count my blessings really. Working in a bank we get public holidays, and we’re closed on Sundays as well. The amount of customers who look at us in shock when we tell them we’re closed on Sundays or public holidays always amazes me. They would literally expect us to be open 24/7 if possible.

    Personally, I wished that every job (apart from critical services like power; as you mentioned) were required to have at least Sundays and bank holidays off. It’s not good for work life balance, and I also don’t think its good for people to expect to be able to go shopping at any time of the day, any day of the week. There needs to be a time and a place for rest and family – its being squeezed out more and more and that’s a very sad and damaging thing.

    1. I agree, but I wonder if those workers always would. I imagine some people would rather make the money then talk a holiday. That said, they should at least have the option.

  5. I worked retail for a while right out of college, at Nordstrom, and was warned that I could forget about socializing on weekends and holidays. It was the worst. Didn’t do it for very long. I’m really annoyed that some stores are now opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. I had hope people would boycott. Turned out, plenty of people showed up, but then Black Friday sales were down from last year. I can only hope that the employers ended up spending more money on workers while sales only held steady — a net loss. I hope that people who work holidays either only do it for short time or find some way to enjoy it.

    1. I hate the thanksgiving thing. There’s no reason to be open. More than anything else, I hate that it promotes the idea people should spend thanksgiving shopping instead of with family.

  6. Hi, I was going to maybe leave a ‘hi’ post, but I’m just here wishing yours was the majority view. I worked at a large clothing retailer over here in England and that required me to be available 7 days a week, even over Christmas and Easter.

    I’m not religious, but working until 9pm on Christmas Eve and starting again at 7am on Boxing Day does not make for a joyous holiday. Especially, as in my case you don’t live on the same city as your family. Add this to the attitude some customers come in with on Boxing Day, as if I, personally am forcing them from their beds to come buy shoes and punishing me accordingly it becomes intolerable. Though holiday work is not the be all and end all, it is a major factor as to why I am a former employee and a fixture of all high street employees. A change in the way we are treated would be welcome.

    I think that shops shouldn’t open on Sundays, not for religious reasons, but because it’s important for families to have a day together though maybe that’s just because I was raised by parents who, luckily, didn’t have to work weekends.

    Excuse the rant, but your post hit a nerve and I’m looking forward to more. Cheers, Liz

    1. I like the idea of requiring all businesses make their workers work six days max per week. Maybe they don’t have to give them Sunday, but they have to give them a day. Just one. That can’t be too much to ask.

  7. I have great appreciation for people who work holidays/weekends, especially service employees. I’ve worked some animal care jobs, and the animals don’t recognize holidays 🙂 Luckily, most Catholic Churches have daily Mass, so there’s usually a way for me to worship weekly if I so desire. But I was very glad when I got to have a “regular” Mon-Fri schedule in my current job.

    1. Yeah, I remember being a Waitress and my longer stint as a Cashier. Not jobs I would want again. It’s hard work and the hours make the whole experience less than ideal. All my respect goes out to them.

  8. I think you’re right. All of these boils down to respect. People should learn to respect other religions, cultures and ideologies. We should not impose our own beliefs and standards on others. Who’s to say we’re better than them right? We’re all human at the end of the day.

  9. I grew up in a family where we were not allowed to work or study on the weekends. From Friday night until Saturday. My parents also took it to the extreme where if we’re involved in a sport or other recreational activity that was on a Saturday we were not allowed to do it. This was something I hated as a kid. My parents wanted us to be a family and together for a day. Where we stopped and focused on one another and had fun together.
    I can now, as an adult, see the benefit it has had on us as a family but I wouldn’t force it on my kids.

    1. Yeah, I had a friend whose family was like that for religious purposes. She ended up in her house with her family especially if they didn’t go to church (her church was a decent drive away). They were also restricted in the home and were only allowed to do something religious. So, you could only read if it was a religious book, only listen to music if it was religious music, etc. I suppose there may be a hidden benefit there too, but it seemed like a unnecessary hardship to me.

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