- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 24, 2005

The economy didn’t stop on Thanksgiving Day; it just slowed to a crawl. Ed Auld was hard at work at 5 a.m. at Krispy Kreme in Alexandria, catering to consumers whose appetites go beyond roast turkey, potatoes and pumpkin pie.

By 7 a.m., the doughnut maker’s parking lot began to fill and sleepy-eyed customers trickled in. The store’s machines increase production steadily until their output reaches 270 dozen doughnuts per hour.

“We’ll be busy this morning,” said Mr. Auld, general manager at the store. “It will be like any other day.”

Mr. Auld wasn’t alone in the holiday work force, and some didn’t mind being on the job.

Oscar Hilliard stood before four buses in need of repair at Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Four Mile Run maintenance facility in Crystal City.

“My wife doesn’t mind if I work, and I don’t mind working. It’s good to let the young guys take the day off, especially if they have kids,” said Mr. Hilliard, a mechanic and acting supervisor with a 28-year-old son.

Like Mr. Hilliard, Mr. Auld didn’t have to work, either, but he felt obligated to do so.

“It would have been easy for me not to work, but I’m not going to ask anybody to do something I’m not willing to do myself,” he said as he oversaw a group of employees catering to the breakfast crowd.

Mr. Hilliard was one of 10 mechanics in the vast maintenance building. On a typical day, twice that number are working.

“If we can get these buses out, we will. That’s the goal, to get the work done and clear them out,” he said.

Mr. Hilliard, who has been with Metro for nearly 26 years, thinks his holiday work will pay off.

“You get the advantage of having a little something extra in your paycheck,” he said.

Unlike Mr. Auld and Mr. Hilliard, James Kile didn’t have a choice.

Mr. Kile, a pilot for Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp., stood in the terminal at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport with a pizza in his hand. His five years with the airline, after a tenure with another carrier, did not give him enough seniority to have the day off.

“I haven’t had a holiday off for 10 years,” he said.

He was not bitter but said he would prefer to be home in bucolic Appleton, Wis.

Mr. Kile was waiting for his shift to end so he could catch a 12:40 p.m. United Airlines flight to Chicago and a connecting flight to Appleton.

“I’ll be home at 4:01,” he said.

Robert Swaim watched passengers pass by the entrance of America, a retail store at the airport. “The manager asked for today off, and I’m the assistant, so I’m working,” Mr. Swaim said. “It’s very slow.”

Lost travelers kept Larry Moodry busy at one of the airport’s information booths, operated by Travelers Aid International, a nonprofit group.

“A lot of people have made a point of wishing me happy Thanksgiving,” he said.

The Rev. Stan Esterline wasn’t giving directions, but he did offer guidance. The airport’s part-time chaplain held a 10 a.m. service. Two passengers, with their luggage in tow, attended the service in the tiny chapel.

“I don’t have to be here today, but I choose to,” the reverend said. “It’s just to let people know they aren’t forgotten, especially the workers.”

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