Monday, May 30, 2005

When Memorial Day Was On Memorial Day

I'm back in the booth this year at the Arizona Heat pro softball games, manning the Public Address microphone. In the booth with me is Walt, another radio veteran who plays the music between innings, and a newcomer named Dan who handles the message board. Walt is about 10 years older than me, while Dan I would estimate to be no more than 25 years of age.
During a lull in tonight's action Walt mentioned the fact that back in the day, Memorial Day was always observed on the 30th of May, regardless of what day of the week the 30th fell on. Our youthful friend in the booth couldn't believe his ears. "You mean even if the 30th fell ON A SATURDAY OR SUNDAY?," he asked incredulously. That's right, kid. If the 30th fell on the weekend, you didn't get an extra day off - it was back to work on Monday morning, and if you didn't like it, TOUGH BEANS!
In my opinion the average American's attitude toward work has deteriorated a great deal in the last 40 years, and the idea of stretching out these holiday weekends has a lot to do with it. I remember when virtually all of the men worked from 8 to 5, and all of the women were stay-at-home moms. In the middle of the day, you'd go out and there'd hardly be any traffic - just housewives going to the grocery store and delivery trucks. Now go to a department store any weekday and you can't help but wonder - don't any of these people work? Many people, including my dad, didn't just work Monday thru Friday, but on Saturday morning as well. Nobody complained that they were getting jipped out of a 3-day weekend if a holiday fell on Saturday or Sunday. Instead it was a special treat when you would get a day off for a holiday during the week.
First we had the government create these 3 day weekends by moving holidays like Memorial Day and Veterans Day to the nearest Monday. Then people started to take 4-day weekends when holidays like the 4th of July would fall on a Tuesday or Thursday. People used to go back to work on the day after Thanksgiving, now it's an unofficial shopping holiday. And heaven forbid if Christmas should fall on a Wednesday - that apparently gives you an excuse to take the whole week off!
Am I suggesting that we go back to the way it was? No. People would never stand for it anyway. And maybe I would be trying to weasel out of working too if I had a job I hated, but fortunately I work in a field where I can't wait to go to work each day. All I'm saying is that the traditional American work ethic has taken a big hit in recent decades, and I know that these holiday stretching attempts have contributed greatly to that decline.
So enjoy your day off today. Hey look, it's the 30th, what a coincidence. Then let's get back to work!