I write this in a different coffeeshop than usual, because the usual spot for my investigations into Morale is closed. In honor of Labor Day. I’d feel some measure of guilt for requesting coffee-and-muffin service on a day like today if it weren’t for the fact that in an hour I’ll be providing beer-and-shot service. It’s the end of a long weekend off for many, and they’ll be wanting to wind down.
Labor Day celebrates the achievements of the American Labor Movement in securing what are now considered basic rights by many. An eight hour work day in a five day work week, giving us the concept of “overtime.” The weekend. The prevention of child abuse by large companies.
It’s also for many the last truly carefree three-day weekend of the year for many folks. The only reason Reaganites haven’t tried to roll back this Federal Holiday is because while many Americans aren’t aware of Labor’s contributions to their daily lives, they would riot if one of their few days off was taken from them.
For myself, much like the barista who served me, and the bus driver who will take me to work, the material effects of Labor Day are zilch. Much like the material effects of what people with “traditional” schedules call the weekend. It took me over two years of tetris-ing my schedule to a point where I had two days off in a row, and I was envied by a lot of bartenders I knew.
For a while it took real restraint not to jump in on all my white-collar friends “TGIF AMIRITE” posts with . . . something unkind.
Because there are millions of us for whom the traditional 9-5, 5 days a week still doesn’t apply. Your bartenders, nurses, bus drivers, police officers, taxi drivers, pilots, firefighters, sex workers, custodial staff, professional musicians, doctors, security guards, retail workers, cashiers, freelancers, caregivers, and many more do not experience weekends, and are not experiencing one now.
Society shouldn’t creak to a halt based on a pre-set group of hours. It is good that (most) of the aforementioned goods and services are available during “off hours.” The fact that there even is a “traditional” schedule is something that once again, we can thank Labor for. The fact that even a portion of society gets to have a day off as a way for society to say “hey, good job. Take a load off,” is a net positive.
Just don’t tag me in any “what did YOU do with your three day weekend?” posts. Not gonna happen, Jack.
Also published on Medium.