Leaving my neighborhood this morning, I noticed something unusual for a Labor Day morning trash cans lining the curb. This just shouldn’t be.. don’t my neighbors know that the trash men don’t come on holidays. But maybe this year, it is going to be different.. maybe they will come. Maybe America or at least Orlando’s waste management company has forgotten why today is a holiday.
Labor Day is a celebration of the social and economic contributions of workers and has been celebrated in the U.S. since 1894. It was rushed through Congress and signed into law by President Cleveland after the Pullman Strike which left several U.S. Marshalls and soldiers dead. They sped it up to prevent more violence and help conciliation with organized labor. It was a day to celebrate and to rest when many folks were still working seven days a week in horrible depressing and dangerous conditions.
Now more than a 100 years after it’s creation it has become just another holiday for sales and barbeques. Forgotten are the men and women who died during the labor movement to earn workers the rights they now enjoy.
It now symbolizes the end of summer for Americans. Pools when I lived up north use to close after today. Oh and don’t dare wear white after today. In highschool, I was pulled aside the assistant principal and informed that I was breaking that particular rule. It was embarrassing.
Even more embarrassing is the fact that most of us have forgotten why we for the most part have the day off. For the last three years, I have been quietly working away every Labor day at a local theme park filling in the the receptionist so that she could enjoy today off. There will be no barbeques for me when I get off this evening. Instead, I will quietly slip into my house, pour a glass of lemonade and put my feet up before preparing to go to work again tomorrow.
Twice in the last year, I have been accused of being a workaholic. (Strangely, by two different guys who wanted to date me. Not the best move, boys.) The term implies that I am addicted to working; that I work for the sake of working. Working myself into an early grave smiling as I go. I work the way I do because I am addicted to paying bills and having a roof over my head. I also work so that I can have options. Options like taking the summer off to write and travel or going to Dragon Con and not coming home broke. The Saturday that I spend rolling towels is going to help pay off my credit cards, student loans and possible a ticket to Saint Kitts next summer.
Labor Day is a day that celebrates the working man & woman by letting them have a day off. An extra day to rest and see what our labor has built. What the labor of the last two hundred years has helped build. As for me, when I walk into my house after work today and take a savory sip of lemonade, I am going to envision sitting reading my first novel on the serene beaches of St. Kitts next summer forever grateful for those whose blood, sweat and lives made it possible for me to work for my dreams.