Monday, July 26, 2010

Why I don't like to work on federal holidays

Okay, so this post definitely falls into the category of "things I meant to write about when I had the idea but not the time."

For a while, my company had decided that the accounting department was going to have to work the 4th of July holiday. (The 4th of July always falls at quarter-end. Holidays that fall at the beginning of the month are always a pain for accounting because we're busy closing, although you'd think the federal oversight committee, or whoever is actually demanding that we get stuff done and turned in, would know about these holidays and extend the deadline, as they are federal holidays.) I was totally annoyed by having to work July 5. Livid, in fact. Although it turns out, I didn't have to. What a waste of a good tantrum! So I'm going to continue here as if I didn't already know that I didn't end up having to work July 5 (which is my dad's birthday, coincidentally).

I didn't actually have any plans for the 5th (Dad doesn't live nearby), but what if I had? It's been marked as a holiday on our payroll calendars since they came out at the end of 2009.

And Captain America was out of town. I had been really looking forward to three whole days off with the house to myself. I was going to watch a collection of movies that Captain America has no interest in, do some scrapbooking, and drink a lot of tea while reading a few books.

But then we were told we'd have to work, and while we'd get a different day off to make up for it, it just wasn't the same to me.

And then, on top of it all, isn't it a little rude and disrespectful to work on Independence Day?

Yes, I know the extra day off was the 5th, not the 4th. But, in ways I have yet to figure out how to concretely verbalize, it just strikes me as disrespectful. I know I have an idealized view that all of our service men and women are pledging to protect my rights, but then again, aren't we a nation founded on ideals? Shouldn't we be more respectful to the very people whose job it is to protect our rights? Isn't it a little presumptuous to think a few accounting entries are more important than celebrating our freedoms? I mean, really, one of those freedoms gives me the right to complain about it here.

Another holiday like this is Labor Day. Does anyone else see the irony in working Labor Day? Again, I think it's disrespectful to all of those men and women who fought so hard to get us things that seem like common sense: time to eat lunch, or use the restroom, in addition to other benefits, like worker's comp and over time pay. Oh, and fire exits. I'm a huge fan of fire exits. Remember 9/11? Yes, all of those people who made it out did so because they had fire exits.

I don't have to be in a union; I don't have to fight for those things because someone else did the work for me. And it wasn't as if a bunch of workers put some suggestions into a box and the boss said, hey, these are pretty good ideas. No, labor unions did actually have to fight for better working conditions.

I've tried explaining to my now-boss, before she became my boss, why I take lunch every day, but she just didn't get it. I said that I don't mind working through lunch on occasion, if it's necessary, but I won't do it every day because I don't want my company to expect it of me; I don't want my company to think I'm willing to do it every day. She just looked at me and said that if she took lunch everyday, she'd feel like she'd have to stay longer. And I commented that that sounded like we were under-staffed. (I would, however, gladly skip lunch ever day if it meant I could leave sooner, but it doesn't. And, my department is, in fact, hugely under-staffed.)

Everyone's job has unexpected inconveniences. Everyone I know has to work later than they want sometimes, and put in the occasional Saturday, and yes, it sucks. It cuts into your personal time, your real life. It limits your ability to literally re-create yourself on the weekend so you're a better employee the following week, but every now and then it's just necessary. And I don't mind it when it's necessary. But if it becomes necessary for me to skip lunch every day, or work every Saturday, or work late every day, well, then we have a problem. I don't live to work; I work to live.

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