I have lived outside of the United States for 8 years now. I have celebrated the holidays of my “home” country, as well as holidays of Spain, China, the United Kingdom (in a British curriculum school) and Singapore. I forget the “old” holidays and get used to the new ones. This year has come with a slew of new holidays (Vesak Day, Hari Raya, National Day and Deepavali), in addition to the old stalwarts of Christmas, Easter and Labor Day (May 1). What?!? Labor Day isn’t May 1st??!! Well, in 99% of the world it is, so I have celebrated Labor Day on May 1st for 8 years now.
The first Monday of September, to me, is just that: the first Monday of September. I holds no special meaning, it’s just a regular work day. I have not remembered American Labor Day in a long time, and it really doesn’t matter. In the US, Labor Day signals the end of summer and in other countries (on May 1st), it signals the beginning of it. I think I’d rather like to celebrate the beginning…especially when you get a day off for labor day in the beautiful spring!
Well, my forgetting of Labor Day has not meant much. It’s just not celebrated anywhere in the world at the same time as the one in the United States. Well…it hasn’t meant much until today. Today, I decided to go pick up my new passport. I got notification over the weekend that it was ready, and I could come pick it up at the US embassy any week day between 9AM and 12PM or 1PM and 3PM. I decided to go after my period 4 class, and return to school when I was finished. I left around 1:15PM.
I was expecting another quick turnaround, as the time I went there to renew my passport was very fast. I actually spent more time in the taxis traveling to and from the embassy than I spent in the actual embassy. How’s that for efficiency?! After living in China and Madrid…the lands of perpetual bureaucracy, it was nice to see that the US (just as bureaucratic as others) was at least quick about it. I expected to be back at school around 3-3:15. I was back at 2PM! I forgot about Labor Day!!
As the taxi was pulling into the driveway of the embassy, I noticed a small sign posted near the entrance: “closed Monday, September 1.” Hmmm…I thought, maybe there’s some kind of emergency and they had to close the embassy. I started to wrack my brain for any terror threats I may have heard about recently, or about any specific issues with Singapore. I couldn’t think of anything. I asked the taxi driver to pull closer so I could go to the guardhouse and ask what was going on. The guard, who was Singaporean, said “it’s Labor Day in the US, everyone is off today.” D’Oh!! I forgot about Labor Day. I asked the taxi driver to take me right back to school.
Where can I get an embassy job??!! Not only do they get off all the American holidays, they also get off the Singaporean (or any host country) holidays. It’s like double the amount of holiday…sign me up!!!