Is Labor Day just another work day or really a holiday?
For banks, government workers (local, state and federal) and many corporate offices, the first Monday of September is a day to relax, fire up the grill and hit the water.
But for many others, it’s just another day at work.
Retail offices, malls, restaurants, car dealerships and others trot out the Labor Day sales. The only celebrations they seek comes from the ringing of cash registers.
Federal workers call Labor Day a holiday but vendors at places like the Blue Ridge Parkway see it as another day that hope will be both busy and profitable.
The Carroll County Flea Market and Gun Show wraps us its four days of activity on Labor Day. So do the multitude of yard sales and flea markets that overflow from front yards and spare spots on the side of the road.
NASCAR staged a rare Sunday night race in Atlanta this year, knowing fans had a day to get home on Monday. At least that was the plan but a scan of seats at Atlanta on TV showed more than half the seats empty.
Coast Guard officials expect a busy day at Smith Mountain Lake on Labor Day as pleasure boats, house boats, jet skis and larger cruisers pack the water. That, combined with the flow of booze, means trouble on the water.
Those who do have the day off can also mean lots more work for first responders who answer accident and emergency calls and police officers who spend more time writing tickets.
“It’s just another day,” a local state trooper told us over the weekend. “If anything, it’s a busier day.”
It will also be busier for public pools — most close for the year on Tuesday and won’t open until next Memorial Day — the traditional “start of summer.”
Memorial Day starts three weeks before the real beginning of summer on the calendar just as Labor Day recognizes the end of summer three weeks before it says so on the calendar.
Oddly enough, Labor Day began as a holiday celebrated by the American labor movement but many of the workers who have to put in a full day’s work nowadays are members of unions that no longer recognize the holiday.
“I’m a member of a retail clerks union but I will be on the job on labor day,” says mall employee Lorene Wilson. “I haven’t had Labor Day off in more than 10 years.”
Many in the retail sector wonder longer hours at normal rates on Labor Day. Mall and superstore hours are longer and auto dealerships trumpet longer hours and a full sales staff on Labor Day.
“Those of us who sell cars and trucks for a living see Labor Day as just another work day,” says salesman Alex Hemmings. “We work but the mechanics do not. The shop is not open.”
Some car dealerships, however, do promote “open for service” on Labor Day, as do independent garages and auto parts stores.
“Just another day at the office,” says one auto parts employee, who asks not to be identified because “I’m at work but the boss is not.”
Happy Labor Day, if you happen to be one of the ones actually have a day off.