Grrr! Happy ThanksGrrring

Writing a column called The Grrr!, it's hard to take one's self all too seriously.

It's only a matter of time when the Grrrinch will come down the mountain and steal my Christmas; so until then, I give thanks to all of you who actually read my column. I know you'd be lost without it — not.

But the same could be said for all of us in our careers, couldn't it?

Seriously, who among us is 100 percent indispensable in his job? Unless you own a private company where you alone know the business, you would be hard-pressed to find someone out there who couldn't be replaced in a heartbeat.

But that's just your company. There's probably a competitor who would gladly take your clients if you faltered, and those clients wouldn't miss you in the least. Just ask any former hardware store owner who's working at the local Home Depot or Lowes.

So if you think about it, no matter how much you may despise your job, you should be thankful you have it. Look on the bright side: At least you don't work for GM, and that goes for you who just got laid off. It's time to start a new life.

But that's not to say there aren't horrible positions or horrible employers out there. Indeed, there are. And it's easy to Grrr! them.

General Motors just laid off thousands of workers, just in time for the holidays. Nice. Meanwhile, stockbrokers and other Wall Street sharks will be the happy recipients of some of the biggest year-end bonuses since the 1990s. We're talking tens of thousands of dollars in a bonus, often more.

And guess what? They'll complain that it wasn't enough.

Ask yourself as you open your measly Christmas bonus — or lack thereof — why didn't I go to Wall Street?

But the rich and "powerful" aren't the only ones lamenting their good fortune — eh-hum — hard times.

With Black Friday and the holiday shopping season upon us, we should note that retail employees — for the most part — are good, hard-working people. Often times they are subjected to the rudest Oblivions among us and hardly great working conditions.

Most big-box retailers don't offer health benefits, retirement plans or paid vacation time.

On top of that, some shoppers are so narrow-minded that they actually believe with all of their might that the person behind the counter or sweeping the shopping center floors or folding clothes is seriously there just to serve them.

And those Oblivion shoppers treat those retail workers like doo-doo.

Grrr! to them.

On the flip-side, there are many, many retail clerks and "customer service" people who hate their jobs, their cars, the weather, their pets, their mothers, themselves — and are out to make everybody around them miserable.

These are the clerks who look at you with dread and insincerely state, "Can I help you?" Well, actually, no, I'm just standing here holding an armful of merchandise FOR MY HEALTH.

These people should be taken out to the mall loading docks, lined up and fired, one by one.

That's why I make it a point to be nice to retail clerks this time of the year — if they look like they're doing the best they can at their jobs. We all know the ones we're talking about here. They know who they are, too.

In case you're wondering what kind of clerk you are, take the following quiz...

1. When driving to work do you:
A. Sing Christmas carols?
B. Pretend to run over shoppers with your car?
C. Think of ways to look too busy to help people?

2. When standing behind the counter do you:
A. Grind your teeth?
B. Smile and take pride in doing your job?
C. Sigh loudly when another person gets in line?

3. When approached by a customer do you:
A. Picture them bleeding from the ears?
B. Wish they would drop dead?
C. Be as helpful and kind as you can be?

If you answered 1a, 2b and 3c, you're in for a great month of holiday shopping and overtime, and you should know that your shoppers and your employers appreciate your efforts. It's people like you who are first to dish out holiday cheer to your community.

That's seriously a big deal, and most of us are thankful to you for that.

However, if you answered anything else, don't fret, because you're in good company. That's exactly how the Oblivion shoppers feel when they look at you, too.

You deserve each other.

Now, in case you're wondering if you're an Oblivion shopper, here's a quiz for you...

1. When you drive to the mall do you:
A. Think about how much money you're wasting on gifts for people you don't really like?
B. Look forward to all the gifts you're about to buy?
C. Wonder if you'll have enough time to get home to watch your soap?

2. When you approach a retail worker do you:
A. Look right through them?
B. Belittle them with demands instead of kind requests?
C. Notice how hard they're working on such a busy shopping day, recognizing that they may have had a job just like yours, perhaps at General Motors, and now they're doing what they have to do to make ends meet for the ones who depend on them, so you greet them with kindness and respect?

3. When you spend your hard-earned cash do you:
A. Grrrind your teeth?
B. Organize your budget in your head?
C. Complain about how much you just spent to the clerk?

If you answered 1b, 2c, 3b, you're going to have a smooth shopping season. If you answered anything else, well, just like above, there's a clerk out there just waiting to give it right back to you.

But here's a more simplistic way of looking at it. If you're shopping for gifts for people, chances are you or someone in your family has a job. You should be thankful.

And if you're working at the stores where people are shopping, you too have a job. Chances are you take pride in that job, and you should be thankful.

We all forget the meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday. It's not about turkey or tundurkey or whatever the heck my colleague Jane Roh is writing about. It's about being thankful.

It's also about shopping for Christmas gifts and Black Friday discounts, so get out there and as Ricardo Montalban used to say, "Smiles, everyone, smiles."


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