Meet The People Who Work On Thanksgiving

Jennifer Jackson
Posted 11/23/22

Thanksgiving. A day to be with family, have a day off, maybe watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in your pajamas while sipping coffee, the smell of cooking turkey wafting through the …

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Meet The People Who Work On Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving. A day to be with family, have a day off, maybe watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in your pajamas while sipping coffee, the smell of cooking turkey wafting through the house.
Not everybody has that luxury.
For troopers at the Missouri State Highway Patrol, medical personnel and hospitality workers, it’s just another day at work.
Thanksgiving isn’t the busiest day for the highway patrol, according to Sgt. Bill Lowe of Troop A, who is based in Lees Summit. That’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving, he said.
“The travel day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving, everybody is required to work,” Sgt. Lowe said.
That means all 120 uniformed officers of Troop A, which serves 10 counties, including Henry and Benton. They are out assisting motorists, enforcing speeding laws, addressing hazardous moving situations and stopping drunk drivers, Sgt. Lowe said, as well as responding to accidents.
Troopers work day shift, he said, starting as early as 6 a.m. and going to 4 p.m, or the evening shift, 4 pm. to midnight. To have Thanksgiving dinner with family, they schedule it around their shift, he said, although some use their lunch breaks to be with family.
“You do it whenever you can, like any job where you work every day,” he said. “It’s a normal day.”
Out at the Parkfield Inn, just off Highway 13, Thanksgiving is also just another day at work, according to manager Michelle Carroll. She oversees a staff of 14 at the Clinton location and 11 at the Warsaw Parkfield Inn, she said.
On Thanksgiving, five or six staff members have to work, plus two or three housekeepers, she said. The desk clerks work in three shifts — 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., and 10 pm. to 6 a.m.
“It just comes with the job,” she said. “Most people in the hospitality industry know it’s 24/7. Our doors never close.”
Crews at LifeFlight Eagle work even longer shifts, so the company contributes towards providing a Thanksgiving dinner at their base, which is like a small apartment. LifeFlight has four bases, at Clinton, Harrisonville, Odessa and Chillicothe. Each crew consists of three people -- a pilot, who works a 12-hour shift, a flight nurse and a flight paramedic, who both work 24-hour shifts.
“The crew will make themselves a Thanksgiving meal, but have to be ready to go at a moment’s notice if they get a call,” said Pat Dougherty, director of business development. “They may come back to a raw turkey.”
Some crews opt to do a barbecue or Italian meal, he said. Around holidays, they see a lot of accidents, plus heart attacks and strokes.
“It’s not uncommon to see those conditions emerge after the holiday,” he said. “People look forward to being with family and then are let down afterwards.
“And we’re seeing a really high number of cases all across the region— flu, respiratory cases and Covid,” he said. “Being with family just compounds it.”
Michelle said Parkfield Inns are busy year round, so there is no down time. They do decorate for Christmas, she said, and have a Christmas party for staff, but Thanksgiving pretty much passes like any other day.
“We’d like to be with family, yes, but this is our job,” she said. “We’re a family here.”
When you’re giving thanks around the table at home, you might want to spare a thought for the housekeepers at Parkfield Inns, the LifeFlight Eagle crews awaiting a call, and the state highway troopers, who are spending Thanksgiving in their patrol cars out on the highway. There is no holiday pay, Sgt. Lowe said.
“You know what the expectation is when you get into this line of work,” Sgt. Lowe said. “It’s open to the possibility of working on holidays, birthdays and special events.”
Bill Daugherty at LifeFlight said that 911 dispatchers and hospital nurses are often overlooked, and should get kudos for working shifts on holidays.
What does Sgt. Lowe at the MSHP want people to know?
“That we are out there enforcing the traffic laws,” he said, “making sure everyone has a safe holiday.”

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