When I worked retail, the idea of having a holiday like Labor Day off was a pipe dream, and I didn't even bother requesting it off most of the time. Three days off in a row was three days in a row of not making any money and that hardly seemed like something to celebrate.
What's the statistic? One in four Americans doesn't have a single paid day off? The irony of working people not being able to afford to have Labor Day -- a day set aside to commemorate how workers have built the US (though it's not only an American holiday -- off is not lost on most folks, I think.
My first job that wasn't babysitting was for K-Mart -- and K-Mart gave us time and a half for working on a holiday. Nine dollars an hour for running a cash register and stocking shelves was way more than six dollars; even I could understand the message of that basic math. The store was always very well staffed on holidays.
Then I started working office jobs -- I was temping for the most part or working as a contractor. Which meant I still didn't get paid for that time off. I didn't get time and a half anymore; if I was lucky, the office would be open and I could go in and work for my regular rate.
When I was teaching, I got my first real taste of paid holidays. (Even though I never did get summers off.) It seemed like a gift. Such luxury!
It seemed too good to be true and, in reality, it often was; we used those days for planning and catching up on grading. There was just too much to do and not enough time so we did what we had to do.
By now, working on holidays is a habit. I'm more likely to go in and get things done while the office is quiet than I am to savor the long weekend, even when I have the chance.
Which, I am increasingly convinced, is a real shame.
The US is stingy as anything with it's vacation time. Maybe it's being grateful for, like, crumbs when most of the rest of the world has an entire pie of paid time off, but there is just something about a three-day weekend where you don't have to go in to work.
It's high time I learned how to appreciate and enjoy that as much as I enjoy any other weekend.
I mean, it's three days! It's a bonus day. How many times have I sat there on a Sunday night and been sad that I didn't have another day to finish a project?
A whole lot of times, y'all.
And, for once, Ed (my husband) and I even have some time off together. It's been a couple of months since that's happened -- which is totally weird, by the away.
Right now the plan is to finish a couple of household projects that take both of us: moving dressers to the shed, repainting a couple of decorative pillars, maybe rearranging some furniture.
We might also marathon watch Star Wars. And eat mofongo. (Do you know about mofongo? You should totally know.)
And, okay, my birthday is coming up so we'll probably do some birthday things.
What are you going to do? Are you celebrating?
How are we supposed to celebrate Labor Day anyway? Do you go to a parade? Should we talk about forming a retail workers union?
If you've got to work, I'm thinking of you and hoping you have a chance to take care of yourself and do something you love.
Welcome to your three-day weekend!