Labor Day Math

Labor Day Math

Leave it to the ingenuity of Americans to take a single holiday day off and turn it into an extended mental leave of absence; it’s called holiday math. Everybody, it seems, is involved in stretching a single Monday into two weeks of downtime. This is truly an art because it is all done in a type of collective hypnosis. It is a simple planting of a seed and a notion that because our world (United States) will be closed on Monday we must prepare for it mentally in advance and then recover from it in the same way. By turning one day into two weeks we demonstrate the power of focused and positive thinking.

This is accomplished by looking ahead to the upcoming day off -most recently it would be Today – Labor Day – which always falls on a Monday. We see it coming as early as the Monday before and begin to strategize how we can get an “early start” by leaving early from work on Friday or possibly beginning the “l-o-n-g” weekend on Thursday night. This pretty much eliminates Thursday as any kind of productive day at all. That theoretically moves Wednesday into the potential last day of the week and thus creates a wonderful weekend euphoria that mentally begins on the Monday before the break. In fact the entire week our minds become ever more vacation conscious making it extremely difficult to cram what has become already a short week into a day and a half.

Of course a measly day and a half is not enough time to do the really big projects because you need more time and so all of the departments start to cut back on the schedules knowing that it’s futile to accomplish so much in so little time. Some people will actually add a vacation day, thus eliminating the day that they take off plus the remaining half day just thinking about it. As people begin to talk about plans for the holiday, this enormous power of suggestion takes hold of everyone in the organization, which is now on holiday watch, all sharing a psychologically shortened countdown to “quitting time.” This mental euphoria of course, spills out into other organizations until the contamination is complete. And of course if you are lucky enough to take a sick day anytime during the week, it is like getting an entire week’s vacation. The net result is that by Thursday afternoon business pretty much slows for everyone and is nearly non-existent by Friday. We forget that there will be a price to pay on the flip side.

The actual holiday itself seems like a Sunday all day and so we conveniently forget that the upcoming week will be a “short” week. Tuesday finally comes after the virtual “week off” and so it seems like an extra hung-over version of a normal Monday. There is added pressure however, because by not having a normal Monday to recuperate, it means we’re already in the hole for the week. This backs up the work until Wednesday which can’t be finished on time, making Thursday filled with impossible deadlines that threaten to get in the way of our normal light Friday. When Friday arrives, we’re exhausted from the two weeks off and vow to get some rest over the weekend to prepare for the following week, which looms as being extra busy because everyone has been putting off whatever they could.

All that said, this week’s Book of Szen has now slipped into a Monday instead of its pseudo normal Saturday or Sunday. But it really seems like a Sunday, so I’m not really late at all and probably way ahead of many of you that missed last week’s edition because you were thinking about today’s day off last week and missed it. That’s why today’s story is mostly a repeat of something I wrote about five years ago. And I’m certainly enjoying my day off. Hope you are too.

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