When I worked at the lumberyard, the shipper was a fellow named Robin:– nice guy, quiet, did his job, drank milk for his ulcer. He and I usually wound up taking our coffee breaks at the same time. When spring came, we’d sit in the coffee shack, sip our drinks (black coffee for me, coffee and a carton of milk for Robin), and talk about places to go on vacation. For some reason, we were both fascinated with Labrador, and we’d idly talk about what it would be like to take the mail boat up the coast north from Newfoundland. Of course, neither one of us wound up going to Labrador that year, or ever.
Robin went away for vacation in the middle of the summer, came back two weeks later, sat down quietly in the coffee shack to join me for coffee break. He stirred his coffee, smiled a little, and said in a low voice, “Worst day of the year.” “What?” I said. “First day back from vacation,” said Robin, “worst day of the year.
Now I have a job I love. Unlike when I was working in the lumberyard, I don’t spend nine-tenths of the day waiting for five o’clock to roll around so I can punch out and go home. These days, I actually look forward to work, and one of my biggest problems is that I like my job so much I work far too many hours.
I walk into the church office this morning, my first day back from vacation, say “Hello, good to see you!” to Claudette, our church administrator, and Claudette says, “Hi, how are you?” “Worst day of the year,” I say, and when I say it I’m grinning, but it really is the worst day of the year, even these days with a job I love.
I can give you lots of deep philosophical reasons why it is the worst day of the year, drawing on analyses of late capitalism and the meaning of labor, or sociological reasons telling how family and work have been separated. You don’t need to hear those reasons, because you know it’s true for you, too.