Jessica English is a single mother, college student and a source in MPR's Public Insight Network.
When I'm not doing all my other jobs, you might find me cleaning up a spill in aisle three. I work as a stock girl in groceries at Target. My team is the Sharks, and even though I've been in retail for over a decade, I wear my red and khaki smartly, with a little pride.
My favorite parts of the job are: Finding a Code Yellow (missing) child and returning him to his parents; getting to ask interesting questions storewide over the walkie-talkie, like "Team, can I get an aisle location for a tiny ball ... that you hold in your hand ... you know, to squeeze ... for exercise?" (A team member responds, "You mean a hand therapy ball?" By then, both I and the guest I'm helping are laughing too hard for me to reply); and getting holiday pay.
Others might disagree with me on my list of perks, but no one would argue about holiday pay. Yes, I have to miss out on a few hours of stuffing myself or watching fireworks on a blanket with my family, but who cares when time-and-a-half is up for grabs? Holidays are expensive, even with a discount. I need the money.
About two weeks ago, our department manager came around and asked us about our availability for Black Friday (our store is closed on Thanksgiving Day). He said the store would be opening up at midnight this year. My friend Anne and I were hoping to get the midnight shift, and said as much. Why would anyone want to miss history in the making, for time-and-a-half?
Black Friday will be busy. Great guest service is a real-life high-stakes trivia game. Once, a guest who spoke little English kept asking me for what I swore was an "animal," but then, as I listened intently just one more time, the light bulb went on and I realized he was saying "enema." "Yes," I said, "I do know where those are located. Follow me."
Limited quantities and super price cuts can bring out a little bit of animal in us all. I think each one of us secretly wants to prove that we have what it takes to make it through Black Friday. So imagine my surprise when the radio said that a fellow Target employee is actually petitioning against the store's decision to open at midnight.
I was shocked! There are a lot of things worth protesting right now, but five extra hours of holiday pay is not one of them. And tens of thousands of people had signed it?
Why not be there to witness the reactions of people having to go through a little self-induced exercise in scarcity? I'm in. Why not get a little holiday bonus to boot? I'm in!
Except that the schedule came out, and apparently I'm not in. I don't start until 7:30 a.m. Bummer. Anyone want to trade shifts with me?