Labor Day came into existence in 1894 after Congress and business titans realized that giving organized workers a day off once a year was less expensive than having the National Guard beat them on an as-needed basis.
It was that and the incessant whining from the Brotherhood of Tool-Toting Tykes, Local #698, (and the failed attempt to mollify the little goldbrickers with a “Bring Your Teddy to Work Day”) that brought us the holiday most people now view as an end-of-summer tradition.
The fact is, though, if you want to get technical about it, I’m not qualified to participate in this national celebration because I am not an organized worker.
That’s apparent to anyone who enters my office and sees on my easy-to-reach bulletin board the assortment of “Do This Now!” notes that have hung there so long that they’re starting to compost.
My approach to these things involves a special routine that entails making myself a big deal reminder in front of others, posting this big deal reminder on my bulletin board for all to see, and then waiting a month until someone reminds me to look at my reminders, at which time I reply, “I’m working on it.” It’s a good system.
For practical purposes, my notes aren’t really reminders as much as they are declarations of intent.
But my disorganization aside, the circumstances of the American worker have changed so much since those early days that there’s been talk of changing the name of Labor Day to “Remote Worker Day” because all those factory jobs have been sent to countries where “Take A Kid to Work Tuesdays” is a hiring program and the people who are left here want to work from home.
As with everything else, there are pros and cons to this work-from-home movement. The upside is that it does open up the labor pool because employers don’t actually have to see people to put them on the payroll.
“So, Johnny, tell me about yourself.”
“Okay, I’m five years old and ...”
“La la la la la la! I can’t hear you!”
On the other hand, the remote worker transition can cause problems come promotion time.
“So, Louise, how well do you get along with your co-workers?”
“What? I have co-workers?”
I get it that many of us can get more work done at home for the simple reason that we aren’t being distracted by having to hear how funny it was when Chip the Cat ate a piece of string on Saturday and ended up looking like a party favor on Sunday (Okay, I would be up for hearing that story).
These distractions, however, can be easily eliminated with a few kind words, such as, “Did anyone ever tell you that you’re chronically funny-looking? But please, go ahead with your story.”
Alternatively, you could keep a book of raffle tickets on your desk with a sign that says, “Beware, I’m In Fundraising Mode.”
Actually, that’s not a bad idea. In fact, I think I’ll make myself a note.
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