It’s a Saturday and my wife’s at work. She’s worked five days already and will still be at work tomorrow. I’m lazing in bed until 5 a.m. when I hear the neighbor’s alarm clock from upstairs. An hour later I see him headed to his car, dressed for work. I think about the concept of weekend and how it apparently means nothing any more. Well, I’m not at work, so it must mean something, but it’s not what it used to be. Don’t get me wrong—when I was a professor I gladly worked through weekends. Indeed, I was working pretty much all the time. I was paid to be a thinker, and I can’t shut this thing in my head off. My current job, however, is a 9-to-5 with expectations of more, but not entailing any extra compensation. Overtime? You lucky one, you’re “exempt!” And don’t forget to take your laptop home, in case something comes up in the middle of the night. (I do read the timestamps on my emails.)
The weekend is a religious idea. Ideal, even. We have the biblical concept of the Sabbath to thank for our free Saturdays, when they come. Christian beliefs about resurrection to account for Sundays. Days originally set aside for worship. Time off work is worship now. When else will we get the laundry done? Groceries bought? Floors swept? I leave before six each day and arrive home near seven at night. To keep up my Manhattan lifestyle I have to awake before four and head to bed at eight. If I had an extra minute to access my memories I might think this a little odd. I used to have time to write books. Where did that go? Vacation time? You have to be at the airport two hours early so you can be frisked for a plane that’s inevitably late. You get five days off, and two will be spent traveling. Work waits for no one.
I guess it’s no surprise that those who argue that we should abolish religion have jobs that either they love or that don’t require weekend hours. They have time to examine this gift horse minutely in the mouth. You know, we don’t have to have days off. In olden times, or even today on farms, the concept of a weekend is only academic. Those whose jobs are just work to keep an imprisoned soul in its weary body are, after all, expendable. Perhaps I’m just too weak. The occasional three-day weekend rejuvenates me to a degree that’s almost frightening. I wonder why we can’t add holy Fridays to our list of days to worship. There is a price to be paid for neglecting time to reflect. I can’t imagine Pharaohs and kings wanting to grant any more time off, however. We all know who we’re really working for, and it’s not the one who gave us our weekends in the first place.