Let’s get to work

You can consider this a rant against a popular habit, if you’d like, and just move on to a more relevant section of this week’s newspaper. There may be some swearing and railing against a well-loved institution, and it’s not going to change anything—unless it’s a mind or something—so your time may be better spent reading Bob Grimm’s pieces about the best movies of the last year, the Grimmy Awards, and the year’s best DVDs.

But here goes. Please don’t think we’re humorless, paper-pushing types who think that work is more important than fun.

Let’s put the problem into perspective. Everyone knows someone who comes to work in the morning reeking of red wine or stale beer. It often happens in the middle of the week, when noses are particularly tuned to the oddness of the odor. You know what? There’s little wrong with that. Nobody is a slave to the office when they are off duty (although bosses often take the opposite view on that one). We tolerate our lovable drunks—as long as they’re taking care of business. But most of us believe coming to work with a hangover too often says there is something wrong with the person. We at least believe the bad habit cuts into that employee’s productivity.

But we also know of people who take it one step further. They call in sick. Those of us who fit the earlier category know that there is something fundamentally wrong with a person whose fun incapacitates their ability to work or take care of their families. In our minds, we even move the person from the category of “lovable drunk” to “alcoholic,” and despite our best intentions, it’s very difficult for us not to look at the disease as a moral failing. It is as the old T-shirt read: If you can’t hang with the big dogs, stay on the porch.

So, if we as individuals believe it’s wrong for individuals to allow a hangover to prevent them from doing their job the best they can, what can be said about an entire society taking New Year’s Day off from work because it’s hungover?

All over the country people poured down the poison, “celebrating,” because they knew they’d be able to sleep in. The mail wasn’t delivered. The banks were closed. Businesses lost a day of productivity because other businesses did not open their doors. And most of the businesses that were closed even had to pay their employees for the day.

But why? Is our society so childish that we think there’s some special significance to tearing one more page off the calendar (on Jan. 2, because we, too, stayed home on Jan. 1)?

It’s bull malarkey, is what it is. There is no reason to call off work for the day simply to allow people not to come to work with a headache. There’s really no reason that the tick on the clock should require any more than a passing thought and a warm hug to whomever we happen to be in bed with.

So, anyway, we hope you had a good New Year’s Eve celebration, and since you won’t be reading this until Jan. 3, please don’t call us spoilsports. But wasting the first day of the year in bed with a hangover and the fact that our society tolerates and encourages such behavior says something about us and our society. People who can’t get to work after an evening on the town should stay home.