The Holiday Lull/Rush Redux

By | Friday, December 11, 2020 Leave a Comment
Haves/Have Nots cartoon
I wrote the following piece back in December of 2007. There's a few topical references that are dated but the rest of it holds up. What I find particularly interesting is that I was seeing this class divide pretty distinctly back then. This was still several years before Occupy Wall Street or when mainstream media started discussing the "wealth gap." (The Wikipedia entry on "Wealth Inequality" was created literally only a couple weeks before I wrote this, and that entry consisted of exactly five sentences.) Everything I wrote about back then should be plainly evident to people today, particularly after the way 2020 has gone.

I don't seem to recall this being a significant/noticeable trend more than a few years ago, but it's certainly prevalent today in the U.S. that a certain segment of businesses taper off to about nil as we get deeper into December. You'll notice that comic book news coming from the publishers has slowed considerably, and many of the secondary sources (i.e. bloggers) have announced some down time as well. Here at work, too, the office is quickly becoming a ghost town as more and more people use up whatever remains of their vacation time.

Conversely, of course, retail operations move like gangbusters. Toys R Us does something like 90% of it's annual business in the month of December, and there are noticeable spikes in many other retail sectors. Naturally, this stems from consumers doing Christmas shopping for their friends and relatives.

What this points to, among other things, is the growing disparity between the classes. Once workers reach a certain status in their employment -- notably, when they move from hourly to salaried positions -- they gain benefits such as paid vacation. They can take time off from work to do holiday shopping (or whatever) and still get paid for doing so. Most of your laborer types, though, can't take time off without taking an economic hit from the wages that they don't get paid. So your retail outlets that employ those hourly folks can continue operations more-or-less as normal while the offices throughout the country largely shut down as throngs of people take time off. Even for those who still go into the office every day can get very little done, as there's no one to work with. I suspect that if you hit the offices of Marvel or DC right now -- and certainly next week -- you'd be hard-pressed to find many of the folks whose names you might actually recognize.

I don't really know what kind of judgment I might pass on something like this, with regard to what that says about our society. Is it just another indication of how consumer-focused we've become, or is there something else there? Is it really a distinction between the haves and the have-nots?

In any event, the new comics that you might buy over the next week or three were designed some time back. I can almost guarantee that the writers had done most of their work on these issues before Halloween, and I daresay most of the pencillers were at least a good chunk of the way through as well. But there are folks manning the printing presses and shipping boxes and manning your local comic shops that really don't get the same kind of vacation that you might.

So might I suggest, if you are one of those fortunate people who's able to not worry about work over the next couple weeks, to thank whomever you come across that isn't quite as fortunate and has to work extra hard to compensate for everyone else who doesn't. The guy you hand your twenty bucks to at your LCS. The mailman who drops off your order from Amazon. If you know them, the guys who put the staples in your comics.

And, while you're at it, how about the kid who takes your order at McDonald's. Or the store employee who went into the back to see if there was an unopened case of Legendary Heroes, so you could get the last one to complete your Monkeyman figure.

The season of goodwill and all that, you know?
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