USE: your vacation days.
Americans are horrendously bad at using their vacation days and shelter-in-place hasn’t made that better. In one study by U.S. Travel Association, Oxford Economics and Ipsos, 768 million vacation days went unused in 2018, resulting in $65.5 billion of benefits lost. Though traveling cross country right now is discouraged, try planning a staycation. Have some quality time with your kids that isn’t related to distance learning, catch up on sleep, plan a date with your boo, or crack open a bottle of wine and toast yourself. You deserve it. If you don’t have the benefit of paid vacation days, try to schedule in two hours of downtime or block out your weekends to be in nature or watch the sunset. Anything to get out of the house briefly and swing the work-life balance more toward the life part.
EAT: a locally sourced meal.
Restaurants and agriculture are two of the biggest industries in Monterey County, and a lot of workers in these industries aren’t afforded the same benefits of those working a nine-to-five. It’s a lot of physical labor, for not a lot of thanks. On Labor Day, opt to source a meal from restaurants around your neighborhood and make sure to tip a little more – many servers bank on the ability to survive with the tips they receive. If you’re grilling and DIY-ing your own Labor Day feast, source your meat from local butcher shops or buy an extra helping of produce at your favorite weekly farmers market.
THANK: a worker.
The big Labor Day parades aren’t happening this year kids, sorry. But perhaps a little neighborhood organization is in order. Organize a mini car parade with a few neighbors, driving around your neighborhood blasting music from your car and holding out signs thanking workers on your street. Or perhaps organize a caravan and instead of driving through the streets. Drive through the dirt paths of agricultural fields instead, thanking farmworkers from your car – again with signs, music, honking your horn, all that jazz. Or make a big sign thanking firefighters or essential workers and post it on their regular routes or even better, near your local fire department or clinic. For a more personal appreciation, produce personalized thank you notes with the kids and mail them to your local hospital or retirement home. Better yet, leave a thank you note for your mailperson at the door.
We will save you the list of tedious documentaries on labor. Instead, watch a dark comedy or dramatic representation of labor movements, strikes and the workplace environment. Try Everything Must Go starring Will Ferrell for a dark comedy that centers around what happens when a sleazy alcoholic “family man” abuses the perks of his job and loses it all. Or perhaps try Norma Rae starring Sally Fields about an overworked textile worker who finds the courage to speak out after being inspired by a labor activist. There’s a whole host of others like Office Space (which frequently gets quoted around the Weekly’s office – ”I was told there would be cake”-style), Matewan, The Milagro Beanfield War and more. Pick one, pop some popcorn and go from there.