By Mandi Donohue
During the Industrial Revolution, when child labor and horrible working conditions ran rampant, unions began to form, giving a voice to the people. A railroad strike was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and in 1894 President Glover Cleveland and a unanimous Congress created Labor Day as a national holiday. I find it rather ironic that the “working man” has feared it ever since!
By the time you read this column, our awesome Methow Valley businesses and employees will have spent the past week gearing up for the grand influx of tourists coming through this weekend. More doughs will be made, orders will increase and our freezers will be stocked to the brim, which means longer hours, more severe backaches and even less sleep for the people taking care of you.
In a valley whose survival is dependent on tourism, the extremities of this labor are felt even more severely. Thankfully, without too many local fires to deal with this season, business is booming! However, it is also booming to such an extent that while the Methow increases in popularity and familiarity, people continue to visit and settle here that don’t necessarily contribute to our work force. This turn of events has strapped many businesses, and being understaffed has made it an exhausting summer for many of its employees.
While these laborers are happy to be of service and grateful for the paychecks that allow us to live here, I wanted to remind us of the meaning of Labor Day. What started as an important day of recognition has turned into another long weekend barbecue. The same happens for our veterans!
So this weekend, be aware of what is happening around you. Be sure to thank the people waiting on you and recognize that this is a holiday to honor them. When you want to grumble about a long line, instead leave a big tip. When you wonder why your pizza is taking five minutes longer than usual, poke your head in the kitchen, see the sweat and say thank you. Give your local busboy a high five and know the names of the people cleaning your rooms.
Service is a thankless job. It is exhausting. After decades of service, it can literally be crippling. So my dear friends and comrades, take pride in who you are and pat yourselves on the back. Know that you are seen, you are appreciated and you are loved! Sophocles says it best: “Without labor, nothing prospers.” Let that sink in …
I also wanted to give a quick shout out to The Freestone Inn for opening its pool — the first time ever — to the general public. On Thursday night they had a pool party with music, brats and dreamy bucket drinks. A blast was had by all, especially the kids!