Weekends vs. Days Off

One thing I’ve had to learn while working retail is the difference between a “weekend” and a “day off.” This was a hard lesson, and it took me a while to figure out why.

After all, for most of my life, these two concepts have been one and the same. In school, you have the weekend to sleep in and catch up on homework. At most office jobs, Saturday and Sunday are there to recuperate and do whatever projects you have for yourself (more often than not, cleaning).

But not so when one works retail. When working retail, your busiest times are those when “everyone else” (read: those with a typical 9-to-5 job) have nothing else going on. That is to say, evenings and weekends.

Needless to say, this came as a bit of a shock to me. I was used to having to “work” on weekends; after all, you won’t get very far in grad school if you’re not willing to give up some of your free time. But my schedule was still flexible. I normally took Saturday off, so that I could spend time with my girlfriend and go to the occasional SCA event. Sunday was my “work day,” where I would head downtown and crank out whatever project I had put off until the last minute. It was a regular schedule, and something I was at least able to get used to.

But weekends are the peak business times at my current job, Saturdays doubly so. And without a regular schedule (it changes from week to week), I could be working anywhere from early mornings (5am) to late nights (10pm), on what is assured to be the least convenient day. As such, I’ve had to take my days off where I could get them.

When I first started, I was still very much in the “weekend = day off” mindset. If I didn’t have to work on a weekday, I nonetheless found other productive things to do, like cleaning house, running errands, and looking for a better job. I even felt a little guilty if I didn’t “accomplish” anything on those days. Additionally, I felt that having to work on Saturday and Sunday cut into my free time, preventing me from being able to recharge and relax.

I soon (but not as quickly as I would have liked) realized that my views would have to change. After all, applying the old system to the new job had resulted in no weekends and no days off. Therefore, I started making a conscious effort to do “nothing” on my days off, whenever they happened to fall. Weekends would just become additional days, some of which I had to work, others which I had off.

I think this mindset would be easier if I had consistent days off. I would be able to mentally shift my “weekend” to those days, and thus reduce the cognitive dissonance. But alas, I apparently do not have enough seniority to merit a consistent schedule, even if I am on the schedule writer’s good side. Ideally, I wouldn’t have to change my mental model, and I could consistently get Saturday and Sunday off. Heck I’d even learn to work with Friday and Saturday. But I don’t see that happening any time soon.

So I will soldier on, sleeping in when I can, and trying not to feel like too much of a slob when I don’t bother to change out of pajamas before lunch on a Friday.