Thank God It's Thanksgiving Friday

Coloradoan Title:

Gratitude Has Many Facets

Avogadro's Number was almost empty this morning since the students had already left for the week. I ordered breakfast at the counter, got coffee, and sat by my friend Seymour Sharpe.

"You doing anything special for Thanksgiving?" he asked.

I shook my head. "Just going to feast at the in-laws down in Boulder for the day. I have more fun that way. Tomorrow's jam is one of the best of the year. Granted, there's fewer people, but they stay late since they don't have to get up early the next morning. And I like working the Friday after Thanksgiving." I looked enviously at his empty plate.

"I thought all you office workers took that Friday off."

I leaned in and whispered, "That's the beauty of it. The place is empty. It's almost like having a day off. No meetings. No interruptions. Perfect programming weather. It's almost as good as working at home or late at night -- stuff we're not allowed to do -- so I try to work all those extra days."

My name was called so I jumped up. When I returned with my breakfast, Seymour said, "Seems like if there's problems or something, there's no one there to help."

"That's the beauty of it," I mumbled through a mouthful of eggs. "The only stuff you have to mess with are emergencies. If you fix them, great. If not, then everyone understands that you're working there all alone. It's a no-lose situation. I'm going to work between Christmas and New Year's, too."

He nodded. "Too bad there aren't more days like that."

"Actually, almost every Friday is like that now. We're on a two-week flextime schedule where the required hours are nine to three Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. When it started, everyone took the 2d Friday off. I took Monday. As more people began working longer days, the 1st Friday emptied out, too."

"So that's what you're going to be thankful for Thursday?"

"Maybe I'll get to it eventually. I mean, in the greater scheme, thanking God for job perks ranks down there with thanking Him for a good TV show."

Seymour nodded sagely. "You've got to thank Him for everything, but you've got to stop sometime and eat turkey."

"Exactly," I said through a mouthful of toast, "I should give thanks for the creation of the universe, for math and science to better understand His handiwork, for life in general, but those are big items for all beings. I try to give personal thanks for health, for being born a rich American."

"But you're not rich."

I shrugged. "Compared to most of humanity, I am. We all are: clean running water, indoor toilets, food, electricity, libraries, a capitalist economy that creates jobs, a government we can complain about instead of fear. I'm lucky to be born here, to have the luxury of worrying about the excess resources I use and the environmental destruction my wealth causes."

"You're thanking God for guilt?"

I nodded. "Someone whose baby is dying of starvation, whose wife has typhoid, and whose son is fighting a guerrilla war against the government should kill endangered species for food or burn the rain forest to garden. I cannot appreciate their needs if I don't first acknowledge my own immense lack of need." I stuffed the last fried potatoes in my mouth. "I'm not going to thank God I get Mondays off work." I sipped my Colombian and wondered if it came from a sunny plantation that didn't provide adequate songbird habitat. Then I wondered how much the farm workers got paid. Then I burped, thankfully.