The holidays are often referred to as the busiest time of the year. For many people, work slows down, giving them time to focus more on their personal lives, family and holiday preparations.
But the service industry sees work get much busier this time of year. People who work at stores and restaurants often get slammed with customers and stuck with undesirable shifts on top of all the normal holiday preparations.
Corey Iaria spent Thanksgiving Day bartending at the Cottage restaurant in Lake Placid. She has worked many a holiday in the past that she wasn't happy about, but she said Friday, Nov. 29 she volunteered to work this one.
Store manager Yvonne Sheffield arranges jackets at the EMS store in Lake Placid Nov. 29. (Photo by Jessica Collier)
"This year, I actually didn't mind because I'm single and my family was not around, so it actually wasn't bad," Iaria said. "People were in a good mood, and I made pretty good money.
"Usually if I work holidays, I'm like, 'Get me out of here right now.'"
Iaria's father was going to visit, but he ended up not being able to make it. Her mother lives far away, and her sister was busy with her own family. Iaria even offered to cook for "the orphans," her friends who were also stranded alone on the holiday, but everyone else had plans for once.
She said she was grateful to have something to do instead of being at home alone on the holiday.
It was a relatively busy shift, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Iaria said she probably made at least 50 Bloody Marys. She was interested to find that a surprising number of people ate regular dinners at the restaurant.
"People felt bad for me," she said. "I had a couple people invite me to their house, like people that I was just acquaintances with."
Otherwise, the day was relatively uneventful.
"I actually ate Thanksgiving turkey at the Cottage, and went home and went to bed because I was exhausted," she said.
Natasha Farnsworth, assistant manager of food and beverage at The Point resort on Upper Saranac Lake, worked a double on Thanksgiving. She planned to go in at 10 a.m. to start prepping and work from noon to 11 p.m., she said the night before.
She also worked early Friday morning as a server at the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid.
"I don't mind right now," Farnsworth said, saying that she and her husband are trying to buy a house by next summer.
It meant she had to stay home while her husband went to Florida to spend the holiday with his family. Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday, and it was also the first full day of Hannukah. Farnsworth, who is Jewish, didn't plan to do anything to celebrate herself.
But she said she hopes working on Thanksgiving means she will get to spend Christmas with the family.
"All the managers try to get one holiday off," she said.
She said she was looking forward to making a nice celebration for the family that booked the entire Point for the holiday.
"I'm excited to like make someone else's Thanksgiving really amazing," she said.
Yvonne Sheffield, who manages the EMS outdoor goods store in Lake Placid, said Friday evening that she was OK with working more than a 12-hour shift Black Friday because she got Thanksgiving off to spend with her family.
She said it is difficult to get busier through the holiday season.
"For us, it's the season that everything just gets busier, because people are trying to get their holiday shopping done," she said. "It's wintery now; snow's on the ground. Makes people think about winter sports and getting out and having fun."
There's a lot more to do around the store than normal because of all the sales and deals going on.
"So you have a little less time personally to go out and do stuff, but yeah, you kind of expect it," she said. "You know, retail, you have to be there when the customers are there, and you have to kind of, you know, take the business when it's available to us, because we live in a place where it's not always busy."
Brittany Clark, a sales associate at Coakley High Peaks Ace Hardware, said she loves her job and that working on Black Friday is par for the course. She would draw the line at working Thanksgiving Day, as many chain stores did this year.
"That I would not be happy about," she said.
Ace didn't open until Friday morning, with tons of sales and special products. The store always has a handful of people waiting outside when it opens Black Friday morning, she said.
The Black Friday crowd is a mix of the normal contractors who buy products at Ace and shoppers looking for good sales. Some people come through with sales flyers and have lots of specific questions about the deals, she said.
The Ray Brook Sunoco and Deli was open on Thanksgiving, but Ben Kivlen said he took the day off to spend time with his family. He said he thinks the owner was the only one who worked, and she gave at least most of the staff the day off.
Kivlen said he's worked many holidays in the past.
"The majority of my family, they make a point to take the holiday off," Kivlen said. "Schedules differ a lot working like this, and sometimes I need to work. And it just, you know, it does suck, but you have to work."