My least favorite Labor Day was in 1977
Monday, September 04, 2017
In 1977, I was in the Navy, stationed in Washington DC at the Navy Annex. Although I worked in an office for database administrators, all Navy personnel also had to pull duty outside their 'regular' 9 to 5 jobs. These jobs could be as diverse as accompanying families to memorial services when MIA Vietnam Vet remains had been located, conduct inspections of barracks at the nearby Fort Myer, review movies to be shown aboard Navy ships (I remember having to sit thru Porkys. Ugh).
But the real dreaded duty was sitting in the Duty Office all weekend to answer the telephone about AWOL seamen. The office had a direct line to the White House and that telephone was red, but no one expected it to ever ring. The only relief from being in the office was the occasional run for food. Cafeteria wasn't open.
In 1977, I pulled this duty. From Friday at 5 pm until Tuesday morning at 8 am. Imagine the days before personal electronic devices. No television in that Duty Room, but the officer in charge had brought along his personal television and with its antenna angled out the window, he was able to pick up stations.
What did he select? The Jerry Lewis Telethon. The Telethon was very popular back then. I just didn't care for telethon shows. But for 63 hours this show blasted. It was 1977 and the Navy was still a bit ... well, not aware of something we'd call a hostile environment. The Duty Office didn't have any entertainment but it did have a stack of well-thumbed magazines. Playboy magazines. In addition to the blasting telethon, the duty officer felt compelled to show me his favorite centerfolds. Saying a polite 'no thanks' wasn't acceptable to him.
I figured my only defense given he outranked me and could court martial me was to glance and say nothing and count down the hours.
So here it is 40 years later and I still remember the weekend. No longer with distaste or shudders. More in awe that some things really did change.
This Labor Day weekend is my first Labor Day where I will not be returning to a workplace.