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Here We Go...

How long before every day is just another day?

Independent grocers in Toronto are fighting for the right to remain open September 7, Labour Day. They argue that the city bylaw specifically exempts businesses that sell "prepared food" from having to close on statutory holidays.

Every full-serve grocer and many of the discount chains sell "prepared food".

Mark my words. This will spread, both geographically and throughout the year, until every day is just another day.

The perception of the company I work for is that it would invent new hours of the day for the express purpose of keeping its stores open. At least as far as my store is concerned, this is not true: we close earlier than any other store in our district. And although we opened on the Civic holiday--which is, contrary to very popular misconception, not a holiday, I was actually paid stat holiday pay for that day for the first time in my career.  (There will be an upcoming post on how my employer is very different from how it is perceived.)

I believe, with all of my heart, that everybody should work retail at some point in their lives. The empathy quotient in the world would rise considerably. As it is..well...
The refrigeration systems in grocery stores have an uncanny ability to break down at ten a.m. on Christmas Day. And if you happen to be in the store at ten in the morning on Christmas Day, I have it on excellent authority that you will hear the phone ringing off the hook. If you pick up that phone, you will be greeted with "What time do you open?" "Why aren't you open?" "I only need a couple of things, please open your store."
On Christmas Day.
The funny thing is, if the store actually did open Christmas Day, it would hardly see any traffic at all. But that doesn't matter. The people who do come in feel entitled to shop when they want, where they want, employee time off be damned.

"Maybe the stores should be open," you're thinking, "but employees should have the option to work, or not, with no reprisals if they don't." Yes, that would work. Except when you're laid off two weeks after a stat holiday you declined to work on, you'll be told it was a "business decision",  and you won't have any proof otherwise.

"Competitive pressures", we're told. Except like everything else, grocery stores are now competing with the online world, which never closes. There really ought to be limits to convenience, I believe. If you need that salad or that salad spinner that badly, plan your week accordingly. Don't tell me you can't spare the time in your busy life, not when you look at a screen for twenty or more hours a week.

I am not religious in the slightest, but I wouldn't mind overmuch if we turned the clock back to a time when Sunday shopping was illegal. There's something to be said for a day of rest, especially in this consumerist culture. But that won't happen. Indeed, the very concept of "rest" is seen as a weakness nowadays. If somebody tries to bring a pill to market that eliminates or greatly reduces the need for sleep, I'm stating here for all of you to see that I will do my utmost to murder that person.  

I work to live. I don't live to work.


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