A Gentle Reminder as We Approach the Holiday Season

I know that there are a lot of people who follow this blog who understand this.  I also know that there are a lot of people who follow this blog who might not.  I’m asking you to read this post and try to understand before you ask the dreaded Holiday questions of one of us who works in the Service Industry, Retail, is in Food Service, or is a Professional Musician of some type.

Why I Can’t Spend the Holidays With You – A Guide

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to explain this over the years.  Both Geoff and I have worked in jobs that require work on holidays.  In some cases, especially for me, work on Christmas and Easter days.

Go back read that again, I’ll wait.

Sometimes you might see people like me running errands on a random Tuesday afternoon.  When I was college kid, and even younger, I used to wonder who these people were.  What did they do all day?  Did they have a job?  Now I know, I’m one of them.

Not everyone has a 5 day a week job with 8 hours of work a day.  In fact, that schedule is becoming increasingly rare.  Some of us choose to work alternate schedules.  Some of us fall into the Service Industry (I’ll use that term to cover everything listed above except for the Professional Musician group) and others of us like, yes actually like, what we do.  (Just ask The Bitchy Waiter)  Whether it’s the hours, the people, or where we work, we like working with the public or we like the tips.  Whatever it is, it means that we don’t have a “normal schedule.”

You know what else that means?  It often means that we work weekends.  (“What is a weekend?”)  It means that even if we don’t work every holiday, we’ll often work most of them.  Some of them are just long weekend’s like President’s Day.  Others are holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And here’s the thing, if you want to be able to go out and enjoy a meal at a restaurant, visit a museum, go shopping, or see a show on Thanksgiving, someone has to work.  That someone is probably me or someone just like me.

That means that, no, I can’t come to see you for Thanksgiving.  Even if I don’t have to work on Thanksgiving, I DO have to work the day after.  While the rest of you are out turning the economy black, those of us in the service industry are at the register, tending to your tables while you take a food break, cleaning up after you, restocking shelves, and opening and closing stores.  That’s money that I need and it is part of my job.

So, asking me, again, this year if I’m going to drive X hours across X states to come and see you is going to elicit the same response as it did last year and the year before, NO.  It’s isn’t necessarily that I don’t want to visit, it’s that I also have a budget and things to do and requirements to fulfill to do my job and working holidays is one of them.  You should at least try to understand that, and you should try to learn that unless something drastic happens and my circumstances change, this is how it is going to be.

As for those of us who are Professional Musicians, many of us make or supplement our income by performing in churches.  The Christian calendar year dictates when we’ll be able to earn extra cash if we aren’t already regularly singing in a choir on Sunday mornings or picking up gigs here and there.  There’s good money to be made doing this, especially at, you guessed it, Christmas and Easter.  Expecting me to NOT do this so I can travel, spend money, and visit with people simply isn’t going to happen.  Need reasons why?  See above.

So for those of you with a 8 x 5 = 40 schedule who enjoy weekends and have no idea why the rest of us “can’t just take a day off?!” please read this and think about it.  Please also consider that your attitude might be part of the problem.  If this is the 3rd+ year in a row that I’ve had to explain this to you, it might be that your refusal to understand is the largest part of the problem.


2 thoughts on “A Gentle Reminder as We Approach the Holiday Season”

  1. Urgh. I hope you don’t get too much grief for “missing” holidays. I used to. Now when I’m asked, I tell myself it’s nice to be invited even if the other person knows I can’t make it. That’s if I don’t get a guilt trip. If I get a guilt trip, all bets are off.

    1. Thanks for your comment! I find that most people who interact with me regularly and who are in or around my age range get it. Those who don’t see me regularly or who have or have retired from “traditional” 40 hour a week jobs just don’t get it. Some will attempt to guilt trip but I am impervious to guilt.

      I attribute my imperviousness to guilt, one of my many superpowers, to a rigorous Protestant upbringing and some weird genetic recessive trait. It might also be why I’m double jointed in my thumbs.

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