Christmas, a time of joy, love, partying and splashing the cash… you can’t deny, Christmas can be a pretty expensive time, but also a lot of work before the rest and play.
As a young person, I feel we’re often taken for granted when it comes to part time jobs. As I’m about to enter to my career and have worked full time in professional roles before, I can see a contrast between how full time professionals are treated compared to those who work part time in low paid jobs, often communicating with the public.
Do you know, in 2014, 1 in 17 employees were working on Christmas Day and Boxing Day – I was actually one of those, as I am every year. Employees like this are often on minimum wage, work unsightly hours or if not on minimum wage, are out saving and protecting lives of people during the festive period. Being one of them has made me realised how poorly these people are treated. I’ve worked in retail, hospitality AND a hospital over the Christmas period.
This year I’ll be working all over the Christmas period without a proper break before embarking on my intense final placements, only for one request: to have Christmas Eve off so I can spend it with my family, as I don’t live at home and currently don’t have any family and friends I could stay with up where I currently live. Let’s be clear here, I don’t work with vulnerable people or saving lives (because if that was the case I would have no reservations regarding working that day), but I’m a waitress. A waitress in a small bistro where most other waitresses are from where I currently live. My answer to my request? We’re so short staffed and it’s not fair on everyone else so probably not. Probably not. So my management will happily let me spend Christmas alone, just on principle to make me work when they could simply have other people work that shift instead of me.
And this isn’t the first year I’ve had this issue. Last year, I got three days off and ended up commuting between Wolverhampton and Manchester to work silly 4 hour shifts in my retail job. No sympathy. No leeway. It was intense. I was drained and I was treated very badly by customers too, as I am pretty much every day in my jobs.
Whilst it might sound like a pity party (okay it is, I’m feeling very angry and sorry for myself), I’m not the only one being treated like this by both staff and customers. Christmas may be a time of joy, but for those of us trying to make ends meet or even help others, it can often be stressful, tiring and isolating. Whilst I have very little say in what happens and I can only stand up for myself on this one, I have come up with a few pointers for everyone to be a bit kinder and more appreciative over the festive season.
If you’re eating out on Christmas Day (or around the festive period)…
Tip well and be polite. Staff are often very young or tired and have given up their Christmas Day to make yours. Appreciate that while they’re trying their best, they’ll be tired and may be feeling alone. The chances are, if you’re as nice and as welcoming as they will be to you, you could in fact make their Christmas Day a whole lot better.
Shopping on Boxing Day and during sales….
Remember, sales aren’t a life or death situation. Getting that bargain and missing out isn’t a reason to take it out Staff, fight other customers or trash the place (trust me, 80% of shoppers will do this on the day!). Keep calm. Anything you get on sale is a bonus and the staff are doing their very best to keep everything they have fully stocked and as tidy as they can. The tills are as manned as they can be – some staff are new temps who’ve had as little as two weeks working to serve you on the busiest day of the year. Be patient, calm and remember that people are sacrificing their Christmas to serve you. If it isn’t in store, GO ONLINE. Have a look there and don’t take it out on the nearest assistant if the store don’t have it or the price is different on the ticket to the till, it’s 99% for sure not their fault and they have little or no control over it.
In a hospital setting on Christmas Day….
Remember that staff have given up their day to help others, but also the patients in hospital would MUCH rather be at home than strapped to a hospital bed all day. If you’re going into a hospital or visiting a loved one, please be kind to staff. They’re doing the very best to make you well and have given up their Christmas to make yours better. They work extremely long hours with little breaks and poor pay, so respect that, they’re doing their best and most of all their job. Businesses nearby, donate food and drinks to hospital wards if you can on the day (if you’re open!). I’ve seen stories of pizza companies delivering to hospital wards and canteens hosting Christmas dinners for both staff and patients and you can see how much it makes their day. The same goes for care workers and emergency services. And especially, do not waste people’s time. Other people need it over burning a turkey (yep, people dial 999 over that!)
Remember, please be kind over the Christmas period. People are working hard to make your day.