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It’s Yuletide toil for some workers

Christmas can be just another day on the job

POSTED: January 2, 2009 5:00 a.m.
TOM REED /The Times

Hall County Fire Services Capt. Troy Baker, left, and Lt. Phil Bowman check the ham for Christmas dinner Thursday at Station 7. Christmas Day is business as usual at the local fire stations.

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While Christmas for most was a special day spent with family, food and gifts, it was just another day on the job for others.

Jonathan Whitlock, who works at CVS Pharmacy, said he doesn't mind working on Christmas and has done it for several years.

"It's extra money," Whitlock said of the double-time pay he gets for working the holiday. "We also celebrated Christmas early, so it wasn't a loss for me."

The CVS on Jesse Jewell Parkway was one of few stores in Gainesville open on Christmas.
Whitlock said as a result, the checkout lines stay pretty busy throughout the day.

While manning the checkout line, Whitlock said many customers make conversation about working on Christmas.

"There's a lot of sympathetic people and a lot of people that are appreciative that someone's open on Christmas," Whitlock said.

At Hall County Fire Station 7, eight firefighters spent Christmas at work. Lt. Phil Bowman said Christmas is usually a pretty relaxed day at the station.

"Sometimes it's busy, sometimes it's not," Bowman said. "But it's usually a little quieter Christmas Day."

Because most people are at home on Christmas, there tend to be fewer accidents, but there is the occasional tree fire.

"We had one a minute ago where a Christmas tree burned," Bowman said.

Bowman said different people work Christmas every year.

"It alternates shifts," Bowman said. "Next year, it'll be another group that works."

Some even prefer to work Christmas Day.

"It's different for each individual person," Bowman said. "Some would rather be off Christmas Eve and work Christmas Day. It just depends."

And though they are at work, the firefighters try to have a little Christmas cheer.

"We try to cook a big dinner," Bowman said. "Usually it's something everybody kicks in and puts something together."

And they agree that being together at the station on Christmas isn't all that bad.

"If you got to work on Christmas, this is a good group to work with," said fireman Gabriel Martin.
"It's kind of like family," Bowman said.



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