To the “Hear Our Side” People

My e-mail message to “Tony” upon posting this entry:
I posted a new entry in my online journal in response to your comment. You will note that my opinion has not changed and that I still favour Sunday shopping in Nova Scotia, with several major caveats that you seem to have missed in my original journal entry of May 24, 2003. You may, nonetheless, post your comments to my latest entry if you wish, provided that you are willing to provide refreshingly new insights I have yet to hear from “your” side.

Sincerely,
Maurice Michaud

Thank you, Tony (whoever you are), for your links to the free Angelfire/Tripod-based and excruciatingly poorly designed “Save Our Sundays” website which promptly crashed my computer upon entering it.

I’m intrigued by how your comment arrived to me on a Sunday morning, when I would have thought you far too busy upholding “family [values] first” rather than sitting at a computer and attempting to force someone you don’t even know to visit a website that’s a member of the “Canadian Christian Business Federation.” However, I appreciate how, by doing so, you’ve come clean with respect to one of my comments in my original entry, namely how I wished people like you would “come out and say that they’re trying to keep one last little vestige of Christian values within the state.” With my confusion safely put to rest, I can now confidently assert that OUR Sundays you’re bent on saving are not mine, but YOURS.

I find this moment in aMMusing‘s history rather rich for a variety of reasons, for anyone who knows me and reads this blog regularly (as opposed to simply stumbling upon it from a search engine) also knows that:

  1. I live in Nova Scotia but am not a Christian (at least not a practicing one);
  2. as someone who seems to lack the gene that makes most people want to own things, I despise shopping — even when I desperately need to purchase something, and
  3. I am staunchly pro-union and dedicated to protecting all workers’ rights.

Even if the Islamic and Jewish communities are small minorities in Nova Scotia, I don’t understand why the majority of Nova Scotians, by the sole virtue that they are the majority, should be so disrespectful and have no qualms in forcing individuals from those communities to work on their religious sabbath. Perhaps that’s what troubles me the most about YOUR position, and the fact you seemingly chose to ignore my alternate proposal on Sunday shopping, namely that retailers should be given a choice of which day of the week they can close.

Furthermore, on your website — such as it is with its confusing navigational scheme and its catastrophic grammar — you present photos of a deserted parking lot in a local shopping mall on a Friday afternoon. Again you seem to have missed how I raised a similar point, namely through the anecdote of when my parents were in town for a day trip from Moncton on a weekday and we happened to venture over to Mic Mac Mall:

It was Monday afternoon and we could have shot a canon several times without hitting anyone. Stands to reason: Most shoppers were at their 9 to 5 job. Besides, Monday is a notoriously dead day for retail.

Ostensibly, a major premise of your argument is that those of us who support Sunday shopping are looking for another (as in, “an additional”) day to shop. But I don’t think that’s what we’re saying at all. I think we’re saying that, because we’re busy working on weekdays and certainly don’t have the time to go take pictures of empty shopping mall parking lots, we wouldn’t mind having a few hours on Sundays when we could fit shopping into our schedule. Plus, while I’m by no means enamored by consumerism, I don’t see how a Sunday afternoon family outing to Sobeys to get the week’s groceries or to WalMart to get Bobby and Cindy’s school supplies or clothes — by golly, those two do seem to grow like weeds, don’t they!? — can be construed as against “family values.”

I firmly believe that good, sensible legislation that hasn’t a whiff of religious connotation could still ensure that each worker has the right to a weekly, even fixed, day of rest. Also, a bit of common sense by yielding to the laws of supply and demand would go a long way. It is utterly nonsensical to “supply” time for shopping when there is no “demand” for it. Conservely, despite years of a “tradition” of closing at 3 p.m., banks finally yielded to the public’s “demand” for greater “supply” (of hours to do business).

This situation requires more imagination than a polarized for or against “solution” can offer. I’m simply amazed — perhaps I shouldn’t be — that no one seems to have the guts and/or political will to suggest redistributing the current number of hours when retail outlets are open. Or is it that YOUR side is wont to imagine Sunday as the only possible, even sancrosanct, day of rest for everybody, regardless of everyone else’s beliefs and values?

{8} Thoughts on “To the “Hear Our Side” People

  1. Personally, as a Christian (an ordained pastor, with the title Reverend, at that), I prefer holding church services on a weekday evening and find Sunday afternoons my favorite time to go shopping. Maybe I’m just an uncouth American, but I like the idea of stores being able to decide for themselves when they will or won’t be open.

    Around here, the malls are open 7 days a week. Most stores feel that means they have to be open all 7 days. But it’s not a requirement. There is one store in a mall near Portland that dispays a sign on Sundays stating they give their employees that day off to spend with their families and hope you will come back another time.

    The point is, the store/management made that decision. It was not made for them.

    The state of Oregon recently removed the prohibition from selling hard alcohol on Sundays. Yet, most liquor stores are still closed on Sundays. Why? Because they want the day off, not because they have to.

    To Tony, I woud say the best thing to do is to simply choose not to shop on Sundays if you do not think it is appropriate to do so. Don’t take a job that requires Sunday work, either. That’s your choice to make. You have that freedom. By allowing shops to open on Sundays, your freedoms are not being impinged upon. Your religious choices are not being oppressed. You can still spend Sundays how you like.

  2. You tell em Maurice! Massachusetts went through this soul-searching Sunday shopping event years ago. Back then, they called them the Blue Laws. The state (and the colony preceeding it) was the original Puritan “paradise.” Its Blue Laws dated from the days of the Pilgrims. But when state officials realized that they were losing revenue from our sales taxless neighbor to the north (New Hampshire), the call went out to eliminate the Blue Laws (except for liquor stores). We can now shop on Sunday, but the state still loses revenue to New Hampshire for the obvious reason. (Can you imagine how much business Nova Scotia might get if it eliminated its provincial sales tax and somehow failed to collect the GAT?)

    My girlfriend is working her retail job as I write. She works one day on the weekend (alternating monthly) in addition to 4 weekdays. She likes the schedule, especially her day off on Wednesday when she herself can shop.

    As an aside, I wonder if the anglo christians think that once you can shop on Sundays in Nova Scotia, then the Acadians will claim the province back. The fall of English civilization works in funny ways.

  3. Wow you do not like our web site, well to bad isn’t it? It strikes me to be real amusing that you do not mention those things that are closed on Sunday. Like the government offices, Municipal offices, Registry of Motor Vehicles. Hey you can not even send your kids to school on a Sunday. But hey we teach them to learn from Monday to Friday, why not Sat and Sunday? You love the empty parking lots ,well that does serve a good point that stores are dead as you can see we do not need another day of shopping . You may like the extra expense that we will get from stores opening on Sunday , but I do not want to pay more because you have no time to shop.

    To Kevin you can not run around in the nude because you feel you have the right to. You can not decide to stop paying taxes because you think you should have the right to. You can not drive on the wrong side of the road because you want to. Laws are in place for a reason and it’s to protect retail workers, not to mention the managers that will have no choice if Sunday shopping is allowed.

    I remember one time when smoking was the cool thing to do and it was wide spread. Just because everyone is shopping on Sunday in the USA that does not mean we have to jump over the bridge also. We are unique here in Nova Scotia and should hold our heads up in the air with pride. Look at all the pollution from cars that we are stopping , cutting down the traffic. Mothers get to spend Sundays home with their kids as on Saturdays they work and through the week kids go to school Monday to Friday. And it leaves only one day for them to be together.

    It’s funny you use religion as a excuse only when it pertains to retail but nothing else is ever mentioned. Fact is you people are discriminating against retail. If I can not get my shopping done in 6 days and 6 nights their has to be something seriously wrong. I think you people need a life , their is more to life than spending it in stores 24/7.

    Workers that work on Sunday comparing it to those who do not

    HIGH PRICE PAID FOR SUNDAY SHOPPING

    Retail workers voice opposition to Sunday shopping

  4. How can you argue against a person who makes absolutely no sense? In school, if I flubbed an English exam I would always joke that my grammar is French Acadian. However, I soon learned that grammar. Jesus H. Christo mofo, Tony, you shouldn’t have slept through your English grammar classes.

    As Maurice has argued, retail can close another day. A slower day such as Monday. Other people work Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday is often the only time they get the chance to shop. My girlfriend works retail and she works on Sundays and most holidays, including that thinly disguised pagan holiday, Easter. Don’t use retail workers’ rights as front for your pathetic religious excuses. Have the temerity to come out and say, you want to hold your Lord’s day holy.

    As for government offices not being open on the weekends. Surely, you’ve been to a DMV office. They’re all lazy.

  5. I don’t think it’s unfair of me to say that Tony has not given my entry a close reading. He has only noted my strong dislike, on technical grounds, of the “Save Our Sundays” website; everything else has fallen on deaf ears. Completely overlooked was my concession that we indeed don’t need more hours for shopping, but a better distribution of existing hours.

    I will simply add that if “we are unique here in Nova Scotia” is to become one of the strongest arguments in defense of Sunday closing, then proponents of this position better be prepared to provide real evidence of this uniqueness without laspsing into sentimentality or, yes, religiosity. Furthermore, I don’t buy the claim that laws prohibiting Sunday shopping are designed exclusively to protect retail workers. The main concern of unions, which, as I clearly stated, I unequivocally support, is that workers should have the assurance of one day of rest per week. (Unfortunately, the vast majority of retail workers are not unionized.) Good, fair legislation, as I suggested, drafted without law makers wearing blinders that narrow their field of vision, could reach the desired goal while considering alternatives that would make sense economically as well.

  6. You’re right, Tony. There are laws. Laws, when they are good, are a good thing. I just still fail to see why this law is a good thing, and fail to hear any other answer from you then that it’s a religious thing.

  7. The law is a good thing it gives families a day to spend together. And believe it or not thats what we do in retail. It’s not all about religion .

    Maurice – I could not honestly care if you like Save Our Sundays ,sure their could be improvements but the issue is not about what our web site should look like and it’s grammer it’s the issue of Sunday shopping. You seem to be the only one worried about it.

    If you want a strong argument why stores should close
    1] Sunday provides a day of rest
    2) Sunday provides a day for retail workers to spend with their families. Kids go to school from Monday to Friday. Since most retail workers work Saturday thus the only day to spend with their children is SUNDAY.
    4) Sales are spread from 6 days into 7. Their is no extra money by opening stores on Sunday.
    5)Government offices ,Muncipal offices,schools,Registry of Motor Vehicles ,banks are all closed on Sunday.
    6) There are alot of services not even offered on Saturday.
    7) Kids suffer due to Sunday shopping. Please note the
    UK Study
    8) Stores close in Germany at 4pm Saturday and is closed all day Sunday. Guess what they survived , so can we. Their is nothing wrong with being closed on Sunday, taking away a law in reality enslaves retail workers. We will be forced to work on Sunday.
    Stores in Germany closed on Sunday

    9)The undecided parties view on Sunday shopping

    I could be here all night their is no need of Sunday shopping, open retail open everything then we will talk.

  8. I’m not as passionate about this issue as you are, Tony, possibly because my short career in retail ended in 1987, and because, need I repeat, I personally hate to shop. Being less attached to the issue, I am most willing to make the concession that your reason numbered 2 above makes some sense. However, for that argument to hold all of the time, we have to assume that the majority of households in Nova Scotia are homogenous, traditional “families.” The figures that I don’t have, but would love to see if they exist, would draw a demographic profile of the typical retail worker in this province. Are most retail workers supporting traditional families, or single parents? Or are most younger and single? I honestly don’t know the answer to those questions, yet I believe they need to be posed so that those who oppose Sunday shopping could have more concrete evidence of the situation right here, right now. I do, in fact, have great concern for single-parent families who might find it difficult to find affordable care for children because they’re asked to work on Sunday. Sound legislation, though, would prevent an employer to force such a parent from working on Sunday.

    One thing I find rather frustrating about your remarks is your constant refusal to see my suggestion of an alternate configuration of existing hours instead of adding more hours to the shopping week, which, like you, I don’t support. I also think I’ve made it abundantly clear that I believe good legislation would give workers the right to have at least one fixed day off per week.

    I must say that I think you’re taking on this battle with the wrong guy. I never suggested that I would die (that is, not survive) if Sunday shopping weren’t allowed soon in Nova Scotia. But, by the same token, I’m not convinced that families and “family values” would die if Sunday shopping were allowed.

    One last thing, namely my dislike of the SOS website. I’m from the school of thought that suggests that having a well-designed, well-written website gives the proponents of any cause, including yours, far more credibility. I could point to a few dozen websites that support causes I find far more disturbing that supporting or not supporting Sunday shopping. When those websites are written and designed well, I take them seriously. But when they’re not, I tend to dismiss them (muddled design + muddled writing = muddled thoughts on the cause in question). Perhaps I’m like that because I used to be an editor and former teacher who now makes a living in Web development.

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