Labor Day without a job is no holiday

Peter Basch


TESS VIGELAND: So what are you doing this weekend? Wringing that last bit of fun out of the end of summer? Labor Day festivities seem to be far removed from the holiday's origins. And for some workers, especially want-to-be-workers, it's a reminder of what's missing.

Here's commentator, Peter Basch.

Peter Basch: I've had 36 great Labor Days in my life, getting that sweet paid day off to watch the parade and go to a barbecue. But this one is my second I've had without a job. Makes me feel kind of left out, like Valentine's Day without a date, or New Year's Eve without a party, or Arbor Day without an arbor.

I used to design PowerPoint presentations for investment banks, so I'm not a member of a union. But I always felt like I should march in their parade. The only reason my bosses gave me good pay for an eight-hour day with one-hour for lunch and a nice clean breakroom, was because of union members who risked their lives.

The only way to keep us from organizing? was to provide what labor had fought for: Decent working conditions. Working conditions that I don't get to enjoy so much now, because I don't have a job. I really miss the free cereal in the breakroom, the birthday cakes, the weekly pizza, the endless rivers of Diet Coke. Not to mention the great air conditioning and broadband.

And the people. The typist, who somehow had my boss under her thumb; the mailroom guy with the heavy metal hair that I mocked but secretly envied; the top executive who took up my time to talk about art, because he used to be a painter. This Labor Day I really miss them all.

But in my 14th month of unemployment, it's dawning on me that some jobs may never come back. So I've started to explore other alternatives. Instead of doing computer work for banks, I'll be giving tech support to private clients, going to their homes to clean up their PCs and train them on software.

So on Labor Day 2010, I will celebrate in a brand new way. By working, as my own boss. I won't go to the parade, but I guess I can barbecue a burger for myself. Then, I'll have to organize my own labor and get back to work.

Vigeland: Peter Basch is a playwright and computer consultant.

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Great story - more like this, please! More from this guy!

In his funny piece on Labor Day Peter Basch mentions that he's out of a job: what a shame. This man has talent, and a small but devoted following in Brussels, Belgium. Maybe he should come to "The Heart of Europe" and give his groupies, whether employed or not, a piece of his mind and a chance to smile. Recession times are gloomy here too, and there is no Indian summer in Belgium. No free cereal or diet coke either. So send us Mr. Basch, and we'll feel better already.

Nice piece. Peter is a very funny commentator who manages to get the edge in--Chaplinesque, you might say. Someone should hire him--he's too clever to stay out of work.

Peter has been out of a job long enough to have gotten his bearings. I am hassling through unemployement requirements in two states and my sense of humor is quite a bit lower than his. Peter's essay reminded me that there is plenty to be upbeat about. If I get a job and need hire, I will definitely think of him.

As someone who has found infrequent work-from-home jobs between long stretches of unemployment, it gave me hope to hear the tale of someone celebrating a new working life.

I was particularly moved by the descriptions of former co-workers. I don't hear enough stories about the isolation of the new work-from-home world.

Thanks for a great piece!

Thank you Marketplace...as someone who has been unemployed for 6 months now, I am wont to despair at the drop of a hat these days; Peter Basch's commentary put a smile back on my face. Thanks to you both!

Mr. Basch may be unemployed, but he hasn't lost his sense of humor. This seems like a positive economic indicator.

Another great story from Marketplace...you do find the best folks !!

Only foolish people will ever not 'think of themselves as self employed'. Peter's 36 years of work represent approximately over 9000 buying decisions by his past employers (260 days / year times 36 years) to hire him for his serves. The seismic shift of the past decade should have taught us that fact. We have grown to expect the paycheck each day, each week, each month, and just hoped, gambled that the reality of the evaporation of job security wouldn't hit us. For much of the world these is no holiday to celebrate labor and work, only another day attempting to find work that fits their talents and provides for their family's needs. We ought to be thankful for our opportunities and begin seeking them out more diligently, not waiting for them to land in our laps.

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