It's difficult to maintain empathy during the holidays. A lack of empathy could be defined as evil, so it's easy to be evil during the holidays.
The caffeine and sugar intake is higher than any other time of the year. People are getting buzzed and tweaked.
People aren't just demanding, and pissy when someone else takes their drink, or their drink is wrong.
People glare. While I was on bar, I'd be glared at by at least half customers. Sometimes they would remind me what their drink was. Sometimes they would tell me how to make it.
This is an amazing, unwarranted lack of distrust.
But I bet people feel very paranoid around this time. This is a time of great judgement: Is the present good enough, cost enough, Did I make dinner right, Do my grandkids really hate seeing me?
There's a lot of Mandatory Family Attendance. The holidays aren't about what you WANT to do, but enacting rituals which will, using Magical Thinking, result in Happiness or Comfort or a sense of Safety.
Believe me, it doesn't work.
This is the most accurate metaphor of Christmas I've seen.
If you don't believe me, work retail during December.
Retail: The first born child of capitalism. Or, at least, one of the first kids born. Perhaps the Monopoly is the first born Son and Retail is the first born Daughter.
I'm sure Marx would vomit as aggressively as if he ate bad oysters if he saw the retail job market today. Culturally retail jobs are located at an employment "dead end." I was informed recently by an acquaintance that the idea of the employees at Walmart should strike wanting better insurance etc. is ridiculous; after all, he said, the fact that such "retarded" and "uneducated" people "who can't even count" have a job at all is something they should be grateful for. Asking for better treatment (or equal treatment) is, I suppose, Stupid.
I said nothing. I usually said nothing in public.
People who live off retail jobs are usually at the poverty line. I myself have been in this position, more or less, for the past decade. Despite all of my extreme education, I'm still in retail. I don't hate it so much. There are things I quite love about it.
I don't think it's dehumanizing. I don't think anything is dehumanizing---after all, we are all unalterably human. No work or machine could possibly change that.
Is it undignified? Oh, yes. But I don't think the employers are to blame for this. I blame the customers. Customers are monsters. Selfish, cruel, invasive, greedy, people demand perfect service from people who cannot express any negative emotions. Not all customers are like this; some go to the other extreme. Some want to know every detail of your life, or feel as if the professional relationship which exists is also a kind of friendship.
Christmas makes it worse.
Retail may not require much intelligence, but it isn't easy. The customers who complain most about customer service are always those who have never had to work retail. Or if they did, they have eventually moved up the economic food chain and see themselves as evolved. They have transcended retail and therefore are better than those trapped in it.
I carry around the Bain action figure in my pocket at work. It's a symbol of revolution and change. That I'm not trapped in the system. That there is a way out.
Not one that needs include a nuclear bomb, but the metaphor is appropriate.
Change can happen. This country was born from a bloody, violent revolution. We needn't discard this idea; perhaps we need embrace its metaphor.
Maybe we all need to read Karl Marx. When I first read Marx for a history theory class, I told my professor that his writing really excited me. I felt inspired run out and buy a gun. He stared at me blankly.
This has nothing to do with Batman.