The struggle of a local grocer to stay open last Canada Day has opened up some important questions about how we manage our time. That was not the first time he has done so. Almost every stat holiday for the last year, he has said he intends to open his grocery store, in the face of possible fines which he says are unfair. Apparently, judging by commentary on public news sites, Manitoba has the most restrictive laws on this and should move ahead with the times. But should it really?
I think there is a valid critcism about things like casinos being open but grocery stores can't. Having worked in customer service, this to me is the flip side of convenience. The idea that whatever you want should be available whenever you want it. That exacts a toll on the people who provide said service. Is the idea of instant convenience and have-what-you-want-now good for social cohesion? Is the inconvenience of not being able to buy a bag of chips on the same level of experiencing a medical emergency, which everyone agrees that hospitals and medical services should run 24-7?
This goes to the heart of weekends and the history of them. Originally, unions fought for Sunday off to go to Church back when everybody did, and from then that expanded to having Saturday off as well. People don't go to Church like they did before, but the weekend still serves an important social function. Even there, there are differences. On some stat holidays, private stores are allowed to open for limited hours, however government offices are closed. Even if you receive time off in lieu of having to work a stat, free social life is still organized around having a "weekend." For example, you ever notice that a summer street concert, with live music, never happens at 12:00 PM on a Wednesday afternoon? Have weekends now become a class privilege? Is "the weekend" something we must rise to defend? Or do we need to be innovative in these current times and find a way to meet the liesure needs that the traditional weekend fulfills in a new way?