Happy Labour Day weekend! Well, not quite happy – in the CFL Labour Day Classic between the Blue Bombers and the fucking Roughriders (which takes place the day before Labour Day and so has already passed) the ounce of hope that the Bombers might get their shit together amidst a dramatic deposing of the old and appointing of the new was crushed. And I’m not really celebrating the common worker’s well-deserved rest, because it will be filled with a different kind of labour – unpaid and unappreciated domestic labour (and I realize I live alone so only I can pat my own back) – that is physically more difficult than the work I get paid to do.
Well, the work I’m used to getting paid to do.
The meaning of Labour Day is lost in the fury of other thoughts crowding my head. On Tuesday I will go back to work but it’s of a different meaning than the daily grind this weekend is meant to dilute. It will certainly be busy, but bittersweet. And penultimate, followed by Wednesday when I will give a fuck in the morning out of kindness and because it’s easier than spitefully slacking, but the afternoon will be saying goodbye and watching the clock until my boss tells me to just go home. I have quit my job, and I’m starting anew next week.
I have, against all recent records of poor luck or obvious mismatch, obtained a better paying, more suiting, longer term, physically closer job. I have announced this in staggering steps because it still doesn’t feel real to me and I would hate to have to go back and untell everyone that I ungot an unnew unjob.
Assuming this is all real, I have special appreciation for this Labour Day, because I’m fortunate enough to live in an economy, and hold a skill set, that enables me to choose from a selection of career paths. In many parts of the world the choice is to toil or starve with at best an oligopoly of unsympathetic employers. In many sectors in my own part of the world there are fewer opportunities, and people in my community who didn’t have the fortunate access to education that led me here. Labour Day for the white collar doesn’t mean as much as it does for the industrial workers who organized and fought for holidays like these, like Thanksgiving feasts in a land of plenty are just designated for turkeys in the minds of the people celebrating.
But I will be thinking, as I scrub all the bathroom fixtures and dust unexplored corners that defy three-dimensional space, of the privilege that has given me this opportunity and I will humbly bow to the people who didn’t, don’t, or won’t have it but will keep on working anyway. It is the labour of the people that builds the world. Not everybody gets to do what they want for money. Not everybody gets to sit down in an air conditioned office and have energy left over to make something of their hours off. Not everybody can find alternatives.
A lot of people are going to have a harder time than me going back, after this token gesture day of rest. And they have to clean their homes too.