Labor Day in the United States is odd. We celebrate Labor Day by taking the day off from work. For most people, this is a three day weekend. I usually work on Labor Day. For me, it is a day that the phone rings a little less and I can really get some code written. This year, I will be digging through ancient archives and pretending to be an archeologist as I complete my tax paperwork for 2002. I will also be trying to get to my next milestone on a PHP project. Finally, it is my turn to get Tommy back to school. Cathy is sick and does not need to make that drive; of course, if she is feeling well, maybe the whole family will take Tommy up and we can have a picnic before coming home to do more labor.
I visited Jamaica once and braved leaving the resort. With a couple of other people, I contracted a local bus driver to give us a private tour of the island. While other tourists chugged their rum, ate papayas and mangos in the safe confines of the resorts which looked like a little piece of Heaven on Earth, our small group experienced the poverty of Jamaica as we drove through shanty towns. We stood by a cave haggling for a tour price as a helicopter flew over and the cave guide shook his fist saying something French sounding. Our bus guide explained, "They look for crops. He doesn’t like them." At Dunn’s River Falls, the locals aggressively tried for the tourists money. A man with a burro explained I could only take their picture for $5. Little shacks abounded with sale items of local crafts that looked like they were made in China. Dunn’s River Falls is a waterfall that the tourist walk up. It’s like a very wet staircase. There were many people eager to give tours up the falls; some looked official while others looked like they’d just walked up to see if someone would actually give them money. We got official looking tour guide but a teenager followed along anyway and since we allowed that we were expected to tip him. During the tour up the falls, the people from the resort who had joined me were convinced by the guide to sit under a fall and let him take their picture; a service to increase his tip. The boy chimed up, "give me your stuff so it doesn’t get wet." They naively handed over a few items including his wallet. As they got their picture made, I watched the boy open the wallet and start to flip through the money. After a couple of stern words letting him know I was watching, I recommended my friend get his wallet back. I don’t think he ever understood what the boy was doing. But I digress.
The reason I bring up Jamaica is its Labor Day. We happened to take our private tour on Jamaica’s Labor Day. Theirs is different than ours. People were in the roads painting the lines for instance. Our guide explained that on Labor Day, all the people who pay taxes take the day off. All the people who choose not to pay taxes, do community service. Then at night, everyone parties! It all erie!