Surviving the season: Three perspectives on working during the holidays


Kristen Flojo

Large crowds fill up Woodfield Mall on Black Friday, Nov. 23.

Al Tuider, Devin Wright, and Juan Castillo

When most people are nestled in the comfort of their homes during the holidays, there’s a percentage of people who still have to work.  Whether it’s an all-night Black Friday extravaganza or leaving a Christmas party early to get to your job, working during the holidays isn’t fun, but it has to be done.

Al’s perspective:

For the past couple of years now, I’ve had to work all day on Christmas from 12-9 p.m. I have a pretty big family, and all of us usually can’t get together on Christmas Day, so we celebrate whenever we can at some other point during the year when our schedules align. Thus, leaving my Christmas a time to make an extra buck.

I deliver at a Chinese/Japanese restaurant in downtown Bartlett called TL’s.  On an average night, the restaurant is decently busy, ranging from $75-$130 a shift with about ten deliveries. On Christmas, it’s absolutely insane, and I make quadruple the minimum wage per hour when I have over 30 orders.  Driving for nine hours also involves a lot of Christmas music, so having an aux cord is helpful.

When it comes down to it, the experience of working on the holidays is what you make it. Most people are very jolly and excited for their food to arrive, so it’s usually a positive interaction and will be something I plan to do for next year.

Devin’s perspective:

I work at a recently opened Mod Pizza. I’ve written about my job in the past, praising Mod for being such a unique experience for both the customers and myself. The community we have is very refreshing, and I’m always caught off guard by how easygoing Mod truly is. Customers come in and greet our staff like we’ve known each other for years, and we share their same hospitality. It’s not uncommon to hear employees tell jokes or stories while in an afternoon rush just to lighten the mood and make the experience fun for everyone.

Although I have yet to see what a Christmas at Mod is like, Thanksgiving came and went with one noticeable change. People were in no rush to leave, even after finishing their meal. It is pretty normal to have a couple groups stay awhile and enjoy the atmosphere. But around this time, we consistently had a full house, even after closing. This went on for the whole week, and people would engage in casual conversation with us while we worked. Thanksgiving week gave Mod a homelike atmosphere, as if our customers were family, coming in to spend the holiday with distant relatives. I am looking forward to seeing what Christmas will be like.

Juan’s perspective:

Working in retail during the holidays is a bit different than working at a restaurant. Black Friday is always a hectic and chaotic mess. Working at Blain’s Farm and Fleet this Thanksgiving meant I got to enjoy the whole day with my family. Since the Blain’s Farm and Fleet chain is still family-owned, we get the pleasure of being closed on most major holidays, unlike some other stores where the employees are forced to scarf down their food as soon as it’s out of the oven to get to work on time before their store opens. Luckily, I had a relaxing Thanksgiving dinner and got to enjoy my day off. Although the dread of the day to come still lingered in the back of my mind.

You might not expect for there to be much of a crowd at a store that mainly sells agricultural supplies on Black Friday, but you would be mistaken. On Black Friday there are always crowds patiently waiting outside of the door to be the first to get inside and take advantage of the deals. As a floor associate, I had the pleasure of running around and trying to help as many customers as I could, answering various questions and scanning any item that customers needed a price check on. I had to quickly run back and forth between the warehouse and my department as well as be available to check to see if we had certain sale items in stock. And of course, there is the cleaning. The messes are always huge and unbelievable. There are items from different departments everywhere, and the return carts are always full.

Working during the holidays is always a struggle. You get angry customers, and there are always giant messes you have to clean up. But I always try to remember to stay positive. It’s the only way to get through it. After all, it’s the holidays, and it’s supposed to be a time full of cheer and enjoyment. So, just push through your shifts and before you know it, it’ll be over. That is until next year, of course.