Every time Christmas rolls around, a few, unlucky employees are left to hold down the fort in Columbus. And no, it”s not because they were naughty.
The nature of their jobs — whether they”re police officers, nurses or clerks — demands that someone works over the holidays.
One of the few places open Saturday was Walgreens, which was packed with people getting last-minute goodies.
Instead of spending Christmas with her 14- and 10-year-old boys at home in Starkville, Walgreens” beauty advisor Layetta Underwood worked a seven-hour shift on a cash register.
“I would prefer to be at home with my kids on Christmas morning instead of working,” Underwood said. “I guess it wouldn”t be so bad if it wasn”t so busy.”
Another crowded business was the Malco Columbus Cinema 8, which saw an increase in holiday traffic this year, according to Assistant Manager Mark Davis.
The theater doesn”t open until 1 p.m., which gives employees time to enjoy the day, he said.
“My Christmas was this morning with my family,” he said. “We had a breakfast, opened our gifts; by 10:30, we”d already completed our Christmas.”
Seeing families making memories makes working the holiday worthwhile, Davis said.
“Some people think it”s a burden to work on Christmas, but it”s a rewarding job,” he said. “You make kids and families happy.”
While stores like Walgreens did steady business, the rest of Columbus seemed to slow down, said police shift leader, Cpl. Donnie Elkin.
“The ones that are here, we treat it as a normal work day,” Elkin said.
“We”re here just in case something happens,” he added.
The department relaxes its work policy a little on Christmas, letting on-duty officers spend a little time with their families if they”re not busy, Elkin said.
“I usually run over and spend some time with (my family),” said Elkin, a 20-year police veteran.
Others, like Patrol Division Officer Tabertha Hardin, opened presents in the wee hours of the morning.
“(My family) had to get up at about 4:30 a.m. and open (presents) before I left,” she said.
While she would prefer to not work on Christmas, she said her family understands the importance of her job.
“Somebody has to do it,” she added.
While some, like police officers, fall into the work, others like Walgreens clerk Chris Harding volunteer.
The holiday pay softens the blow of having to work on Christmas, said the newly married Mississippi State University senior.
“I didn”t mind working the early shift,” Harding added. “I just want to watch the Heat play the Lakers tonight.”