by Tim Mahoney
When we come out the other side of this pandemic, we should take the opportunity to abolish weekends.
Nope, this is not a call to drag workers back to 19th Century standards, when they were lucky to get a Sunday off.
This is simply the recognition that the weekend has kept us in bondage long enough. Our months in isolation has proven there’s just no need for so much of what we thought was vital.
In normal times, every Friday, American workers start sneaking out at the morning coffee break. More follow at lunch, more still at the afternoon coffee break. By quitting time, only the temps and new hires remain, surfing the shopping, gambling and porn sites, as their betters drive for the beaches and lakes.
Every Saturday the amusement parks, beaches, camping sites, etc are crowded with desperados trying to cram a week’s worth of pleasure into a few frantic hours.
On Sunday afternoon, the highways are jammed with broken heroes debating whether to call in sick tomorrow. At sundown begins an unholy ritual, the Sunday Blues. Oh my God … Monday’s only a few hours away, and I’ve barely had any fun.
That evening, every supermarket in America is jammed with harried, depressed Americans hoping to scoop up the supplies they need to survive the coming week. When the dread Monday morning arrives, they’ll endure the ritual traffic jam and arrive at work with false cheer, boasting about having a great weekend.
All these sorry scenarios could disappear like magic.
Progress is possible, America. Hot air balloons have given way to jetliners.And we can move on from weekends.
Phase one is for the government to abolish the weekend, and spread its workweek over all 7 days.
The worker who reviews planning documents at City Hall can’t do it on Sunday? Come on. Cops, dog-catchers, nurses, baristas and firefighters all work seven days a week. The military is on duty every day. So, the government statistician can’t do her thing on, let’s say, a Thursday-Monday schedule? The restaurant inspector? The building inspector? Every government office could be open every day, it’s just the force of bad habit that dictates otherwise.
When colleges return from this forced vacation, they can easily operate on a seven day week, which would expand their capacity by 40%, without laying a single brick or putting in a parking garage. Students and profs already juggle complex schedules. See the Math department if you need remedial help.
If Saturdays and Sundays are no longer sacrosanct, there’s no reason road construction, street sweeping, garbage collection and all that can’t be done on what used to be the weekend. And when there are no weekends, there’s no need to pay overtime for working them.
Kaching$. Taxpayers save.
Overall, about 15 % of the workforce is government employed. With a few modest adjustments, and a lot of bitching and grumbling, Saturdays and Sundays could become substantially less crowded, simply by having the government spread out its schedule. Imagine if on your next Friday drive to the beach, one in 7 cars weren’t there.
Museums and attractions likewise need no holidays. Indeed, their usefulness and appeal will be massively increased when the bottleneck opens up, and people are just as likely to visit on Tuesday as on Saturday. Restaurants would be more viable, too, with their business no longer telescoped into Friday and Saturday nights.
Bus and train service would also improve. During normal times, the whole lame system goes on hiatus, the rusting equipment sitting in muddy yards until Monday rolls around. Without weekends, the demand curve would smooth, and less rolling stock would be needed.
Elementary and high schools could eliminate weekends if they wanted to. Don’t tell me an algorithm can’t figure out how to schedule classes all 7 days, therefore giving the schools a whopping increase in capacity at very little cost.
Yes, there could be an app for that.
There are almost 60 million kids in American schools. Abolishing weekends would mean fewer school buses, and more spread out schedules, more flexibility. Instead of 60 million headed to class every day, it would be more like 45 million. Again the price to pay is schedule complexity, but we can handle that now.
Corporate management will resist, of coursel. But I can personally attest that newsrooms, for one example, function well, perhaps better, on those days when the top management is checked out.
There would be a bonus for those people who are now “weekend workers” at the mall, at resorts, at restaurants. Demand for their labor will be spread out. No longer will they feel isolated, stuck at work while all their friends are out partying. These workers will be easier to recruit, as Saturday and Sunday become just another day.
Once government-controlled agencies, especially the schools, move away from the weekends, private employers will gradually follow. We’re already in a long-term trend of working remotely, and the 9-to-5 routine is becoming a grandpa story.
America has been in a long-term trend away from rigidity and toward flexibility. Not many years ago, courts were clogged with auto crash lawsuits. Then, no fault insurance.
Many states once restricted shopping and the sale of alcohol on Sundays.
City transit systems once had complex zone fares, until we realized they were a pointless time suck.
We’ve changed our minds on gambling, gay marriage, marijuana use, gender identity, recycling, birth control, tattoos, cigarette smoking, women’s role in society, use of credit cards, work-from-home – when this pandemic passes, we can change our minds about weekends, too.