Reflections on Labor Day



According to the Department of Labor, the first Labor Day was celebrated in New York on September 5, 1882. The holiday is a “…national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

That is government-speak for a day off.

Which is ironic, since I, like most Americans, scheduled a ton of work to do around the house. This weekend I planned to “fix up the lawn”, put wood preservative on our shake shingles, fix a leaky bathtub, and clean up the studio.

As of this report, I accomplished none of those. But I did get in a nice hike.

What made the hike so much more enjoyable was knowing that I was skipping out of the work I should have been doing.

A long time ago I was a fresh-faced kid in Deck Division. I had been assigned the job of cleaning the Captain’s gig, but was convinced to sneak out and hit the Enlisted Men’s Club (that’s what they called it in those days) by a saltier and more savvy Sailor. We drank, swapped sea stories (I didn’t have any, but that’s beside the point), and completely enjoyed the afternoon knowing that we were skipping out on work.

That all ended when we returned to the ship. I was a Midshipman, and my Coordinator was waiting for us at the brow.

“Where the $@&% have you been, Bacon? You’re supposed to be on a tour of the aircraft carrier with the other Middies!”

I was doomed. I hadn’t been in uniform long enough to stammer out an excuse – any excuse – and besides, lying wasn’t exactly in my resume of skills. My young career was over before it began.

So I said nothing. I just stared at him and awaited my fate.

Then, from out of nowhere, my salty, savvy, and somewhat inebriated shipmate said, “Oh, you have to be kidding! I just took him over to the (nearby cruiser), and got him a tour there! Why didn’t you tell us?”

To my astonishment, the officer actually apologized to us. Then he let us go.

So today, the day after Labor Day, if you didn’t accomplish everything you set out to do, that’s okay. Enjoy the memories of the fun things you did, and don’t beat yourself up over the things you didn’t get done.

But it can’t hurt to have a good excuse in your hip pocket.


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