When I went to bed on Thursday night nothing felt different. Same thing when I woke up yesterday morning. I was meeting a former colleague for coffee, and my cleaning lady was coming, so I quickly packed up my computer and left for Starbucks.
What was unusual, though, was how quiet it was in there. At Starbucks.
It’s always crazy busy. There was no line up of people waiting to order their coffee. No crowd waiting for their lattes and cappuccinos and breakfast sandwiches and bagels to be made. You could have your pick of seats. In fact, there were only a couple of people in there.
Surprised, I checked my watch. It was 9:15. I’ve been in there much earlier and it’s been a struggle to find somewhere to sit.
Then I realized the usual hoards of people weren’t exiting the subway across the street, either. In the afternoon, I met another former colleague for another coffee. At another Starbucks. Same thing. Dead.
And that’s when it hit me.
Yesterday was the start of a long weekend. It’s the August long weekend. It’s a civic holiday, here in Ontario, celebrated annually on the first Monday in August. While it’s observed in most of the provinces, there are some — Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador — where it’s just another day at the office. Business as usual. No time off.
I always think of this, particular, long weekend as Caribana time. It’s been a tradition in Toronto since 1967; and it’s a celebration (Carnival) of Caribbean heritage, capped off with a huge parade. Which is today. It’s a really big deal, attracting upwards of 2 million visitors. It’s HUGE fun. Fabulous costumes, great music, West Indian food and drinks being sold all along the route. Non alcoholic drinks, let me point out. Well, unless you count the flasks of rum punch safely tucked away in peoples’ pockets. It is one enormous party that lasts for hours and hours and hours and hours.
Of course intellectually I’m aware it’s a long weekend. I haven’t completely lost my mind. But when you do freelance work, like I do, weekends lose their significance. Think about it. If I’m not busy with a client project I can turn any day of the week into a day off. I don’t have to wait for a weekend to relax or have fun or catch up on chores. Even if I have got work to do, I can take a break from it, whenever I want. I can go take a pilates class in the middle of the day. I can take a 3-hour lunch. I can go grocery shopping mid-morning. As long as I meet my deadlines, even if it means I work half the night.
Unlike those with regular, nine to five jobs, I have no regime I must follow. No rules. I have no boss watching my every move.
Because I have so much freedom, I don’t mind working on weekends when I’m super busy, which I very often do. For the simple reason, I can easily take a day off, during the week, to make up for it. To me, one day is the same as the next. There’s no distinction, any more, between week days and weekends.
Which is why, half the time, I don’t realize it’s a normal weekend, let alone a long weekend.
For those who have to go grocery shopping today, it will be a pleasure. The stores will be quiet. No congestion in the aisles. No waiting forever to check out. Huge numbers of Ontarians are, at this very moment, sitting on their docks , enjoying their first coffee of the day. Yep, they’ve made the trek to “the cottage”. The weather’s gorgeous, so they must all be thrilled.
So must all the band members and dancers be, who are “playing mas” today. Translation: participating in the parade. It’s been known to rain on this day on more than one occasion; and NOTHING stops the parade. It goes on rain, or shine. Even in blistering heat. Much more enjoyable when there isn’t a cloud in the sky and the high will only be 24 (75 fahrenheit).
What are my plans? Same old, same old. Like I said, it’s no big deal. And at some point, I have work to do.