Even Labor Day Isn’t What It Used To Be


Today is Labor Day here in the US.

According to the US Department of Labor, “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

What’s ironic is that a good percent of America workers are in the “service industry.” In other words, we don’t make things. We serve others.

Along with this change to our work force, we have also changed our work habits. Seven years ago I wrote a post about Labor Day, a short piece describing how no one works on Labor Day. I would have re-posted it today, but it’s not true.

For one thing, the gardeners our apartment complex owners have hired, showed up at 8:00 a.m. Relly? On a holiday when people want to sleep in, I though.

Later I went grocery shopping. I figured it would be especially quiet with few shoppers. Instead, the place was pack, and I’m pretty sure the store brought in extra workers to accommodate the crowd—which means this is not the first year the store has had lots of traffic on Labor Day.

As I came home, I couldn’t get into my parking place right away because the trash truck was blocking my access. Yes, apparently Labor Day isn’t a holiday this particular trash company cares about. While I was waiting for the truck to move, I watched the gardener across the street do some edging. So apparently gardeners are under no compulsion to take Labor Day off.

The real surprise came when I was getting my groceries from the trunk of my car—a mail truck went by. Surely not, I thought. But when I came to get the next bags from my car, the truck came back, and parked in front of our building. Don’t mail carriers get today off? I ask. Some do, the mailman answered. But not all of us. Oohh-kkayyy.

Well, school was not in session, so that’s something.

But of course all across the country baseball games are taking place. And at each venue there will be parking lot attendants, ticket takers. security, people selling concessions, programs, souvenirs; there will be ushers, ball boys, coaches, and of course all the players who are actually working.

Of course cops work, too, and so do firemen, people working in restaurants and in movies. I suspect a lot of other stores may be open, too. In other words, where people serve the public, they still work, even though it’s Labor Day.

I find this all fascinating. It’s a big shift in our culture. I don’t want to speculate what all it could mean for the economy, but I think it gives a peek at the structure of society. Some get Labor Day off and some serve those who aren’t working. I don’t like that picture. But I think it’s likely who we have become and will be more pronounced over time.

Are there spiritual causes? Spiritual ramifications? I haven’t thought that much about it yet, but maybe. It’s worth pondering. For today, just an observation. More work is taking place today than did seven years ago. So something has changed including the way we celebrate Labor Day.

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Published in: on September 3, 2018 at 4:57 pm  Comments (1)  
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