Black Friday is the Purge

Sara Geitner and Yaiza Hernandez

Black Friday has become an annual event that many shoppers look forward to. Year after year, people line up by retail doors, waiting to get the best deals of the season. The timing of this event being right before the holidays is none other than beneficial to the businesses that participate. However, this massive surge in income for corporations does not come without a cost. 

Throughout Black Friday’s history, there have been many stories of shoppers becoming aggressive to get their hands on products for a new and extremely affordable price. These events often get messy, and someone has to be left to clean it up. Those unfortunate people are often the minimum wage retail workers, doing difficult and laborious tasks that are way beyond their pay grade. Managers ask them to go above and beyond their usual work load to bring satisfaction to the customers. But what about the workers themselves who are often tasked with work that should be done by a group of people and not two. The workers with unbearable managers who give practical zero sympathy and understanding. The managers who won’t themselves help in any way just demand and demand more out of you despite the already stressful work environment. 

According to a survey from job marketplace Job-case, Nearly two-thirds, about 62% of customer service workers have reported being concerned over their mental health and safety working the holiday, according to a survey from job marketplace Job-case. That is an alarming number, workers shouldn’t feel scared or concerned about their mental health at their work. 

Work will be stressful, but not to the extent of stress to the point of panic attacks. I, as a target employee, have faced this struggle first hand. I was working at the drive-up, a service Target offers of bringing orders to customers’ cars, alone for five hours. Drive-up is the most demanded feature target has to offer and, due to poor scheduling I was scheduled to be alone after five p.m. Alone, in a packed store, with many customers rushing me and no back up. I’m a recently turned adult so I understand there would be different expectations from when I was seventeen, including higher workload expectations and hours. But the fact that my management gave me zero sympathy, not evening offering to help out, was crushing. 

Target has this motto that we are one team, and as a team we have each other’s backs. Yet, this incident made me realize that our managers don’t care about our well being, they only care about the statistics and income. It took me having a panic attack and just crying in our back room for our cart attendant, and my coworkers at the service desk to step in to help. They weren’t even scheduled to drive up, nor needed to do that. They stepped in because, like a coworker told me, “we got your back, and we won’t let you drown by yourself.” I hold those words close to my heart because really it shows me that when management fails at least we have those coworkers who will step in and help you regardless of their own positions. 

After the incident, I was entering Black Friday with a lot of worries or concerns from that day, fearing that I would again be put to work alone. Thankfully, I wasn’t but our manager was very insistent about us constantly doing something, as it would reflect badly on the company if we were standing still. Even when just stopping for a moment and taking a breath, our manager would come by and give us constant tasks.

The main reason target employees feel so overwhelmed and overworked is because, much like many other retail stores, the constant strings of complaints from management, who often lack understanding or even patience to help workers, who are often young or entry-level, adjust. It’s unfortunate that these corporations rather follow the numbers than care for the employees who get them there. 

Billion dollar retail companies still refuse to give these hard-working employees the income they deserve. Black Friday comes with deals for shoppers, money for management, but nothing but stress and dread for the workers. When people are mistreated by customers and their bosses daily, it comes at a cost to their mental health. Earning money should not entail losing sanity. This abuse of power leaves those at the top wealthier, and us down below poorer, both monetarily and mentally.