Labor Day was passed into law in the late 1890's as a way to celebrate the contribution of the rank and file workers of this country to what sets the United States apart from most of the world in terms of economic prosperity and potential, quality of living and basic security of the populace.
In this era of constant complaining and self-hating, it is sometimes lost just exactly how good everyone -- of every race and ethnicity, men and women, have it in this day and age.
If you've been reading any of my stuff, you should know I work for the U.S. Postal Service as a letter carrier. It can be a frustrating and thankless job at times. Both customers and our bosses sometimes seem to forget or perhaps don't appreciate exactly what we go through on a daily basis. And exactly how above and beyond we go routinely without any second thought.
But not always.
We recently had a tropical storm pass through our area. Where I work, there is already an overloaded and outdated storm drainage system. And to complicate things, they are in the process of trying to upgrade that system. Which means that there are streets torn up, new pipes halfway in place, and pumps running on every corner (it seems).
A foot of storm driven rain . . . and you can imagine what a mess that caused.
I had places on my route where the water was 2 feet deep. Which is too deep for the trucks to drive through. Which meant I had to walk those streets. Two feet of water is mid-thigh, unless you're an NBA player. And that's a tough slog. Plus it was often raining. And no one stopped ordering from Amazon or wherever just because there was a storm coming.
I should also mention I'm not 20 years old anymore. Not even close.
Bottom line -- it was a real chore to get the job done.
And it was amazing to have folks slow down in their cars and shout encouragement or thanks or simply reach out and high-five or fist bump while I was wading down one street or another. And don't ask me why they were driving their personal car down some street I wouldn't take a beat up old postal truck down . . . that's just crazy in my opinion.
And my customers thanking me or expressing incredulity that I was even at work, let alone sloshing through water nearly up to my crotch just to get them their mail.
But that's the job, right? That's what I would tell them. And that's what made this country so great -- work ethic. We don't take naps in the middle of the day. We don't stop everything for tea or only work four 6 hour days or some such. We bust our asses five or six days a week. Often ten hours a day to get it done. And that's why this country has the level of prosperity and personal dignity for anyone willing to put in the effort for it.
So for the spoiled athletes and entertainers and politicians that wouldn't know an honest day's work if it kicked them in the ass, this holiday isn't for you. It's for those of us who make everything work. Who make this country work.
For those of you who get it done on a daily basis -- I hope you have the day off and can put your feet up or do something relaxing, even if it's yard work or washing the car or whatever. You've earned it. And if you're one of those that still has to work, and I've been there -- working for five years in a hospital and other jobs where Labor Day was just another Monday in September, I feel for you. And I'm not the only one who hasn't forgotten about you.
Thanks for everything you do.