Friday, May 01, 2009

labor day, sort of

Today is May Day or International Worker's Day which is basically the European equivalent of Labor Day in the United States but with some suspiciously Communist undertones. (Sorry Andrew, I haven't found any Soviet-era 'schwag' as you called it, though there is a museum on Soviet history in Hungary one town over from here. I have driven by it but never been inside.) Europe seems to be a fan of getting Friday instead of Monday off from work. However, when they get a day off from work, they're really serious about not working. In the States, every three-day weekend and even some borderline holidays like Columbus Day are an excuse for retail stores to have sales and bring in shoppers. Not here. Today is a day when you're hard-pressed to find an open store anywhere. Even the super-Tesco is closed. But good old McDonald's was open and doing seemingly brisk business.

This creates problems at work. See, the other exciting thing about Europe is that big trucks, mostly tractor/trailer or what they call 'combination' units cannot drive without a special exemption on holidays like today. Actually, they cannot drive from 10pm yesterday until 10pm today. We cannot get the special exemption (or perhaps do not want to pay for it - I'm not really sure which) so this slightly handcuffs field operations. But see, we're sort of used to this because that same 10pm to 10pm driving ban also exists for Sunday. Starting 10pm on Saturday night, that same 24 hour restriction occurs every single week. The general reasoning is to keep big trucks off the roads while people are going about their May Day festivities. In the States, the highways are a bit more robust, but out here in Central/Eastern Europe, the roads are generally not so big. And rules and regulations are generally more geared toward social, not corporate interests than in the States.

As a side note, the term 'schwag' is a great word. Apparently, it's a slang term for low grade marijuana which is somewhat unfortunate since it clearly should be a term that pirates and only pirates are allowed to use. Why? It just makes sense, at least in my mind.

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