Nothing festive about working over holiday

By Eva Bradley

Get back to work. Go on. All of you. Scat.

If I was bordering on Grinchy before Christmas, you ought to see me now that I'm back at the coal face and the rest of you are sunbathing at the beach (or clogging up my city streets).

The holiday season is a great one.

When you're on holiday. If you are, then this column is not for you. You've had more than your fair share of wordy poolside features and Best-of-2012 roundups to read at your leisure.

This is a short, snappy and especially snitty 600 words for the minority like me who sat at their desks, beside their tills or behind their cameras, making sure the rest of the great unwashed had a silly season to remember.

It's not that I don't get time off. During the cold, dark winters when my business is slow, I've been known to disappear to tropical climes with a one-fingered salute to those left behind with holidays all used up. But winter was a long time ago, and when it comes to watching other people enjoying themselves and not working, memories can seem especially distant.

Having indulged in some of the statutory days in a way I once didn't, I slept in on Boxing Day and on New Year's Day as well. But that was it. The rest of the time it was business as usual. With one very big exception - no one else seemed to be.

On Wednesday, as I dragged my sleepy frame to the car and drove to work early, the midweek streets were empty and quiet, missing only a stray piece of slowly rolling tumbleweed to complete the picture.

I felt like the last man left standing. In reality, I was the first one working.

While the rest of humanity was still nursing a hangover from two days earlier, I was getting a head start on editing my Christmas weddings.

With not even my local coffee joint willing to open its doors to help kick-start my year, I waited until 11am and poked my head out to see if anyone had stirred.

The deserted streets had morphed into a seething mass of humanity, all hell-bent on getting a trim flat white with a side of New Year sales. My normally peaceful stroll to the corner cafe turned into a battle to the death with holiday-makers, bargain hunters and cruise ship tourists (undoubtedly the most bothersome footpath traffic, because they wander without purpose and always stop without warning to take pointless photos).

The only thing worse than being in work mode walking through town is trying to drive. Visitors driving casually or in muddled confusion clash with locals fighting for the last carpark outside big-box retailers offering 70 per cent off.

The only thing that has made starting work early for another year bearable is knowing that at least this time some other unfortunate mug had to join me. My partner in crime in the wedding photography business was even more harassed than me, working until just before midnight on New Year's Eve and arriving at the studio early the next morning to start processing. Needless to say, she was an absolute delight to work with, being as overjoyed as I was to be sitting in front of a computer while everyone else sat in front of a large beer.

But revenge is a dish best served cold, and I take unapologetic delight in thinking that cold is exactly how all this week's holiday-makers will feel when they climb out of bed on a frosty August morning to creep into work in the dark while I enjoy my own "summer" holiday on a warm, golden beach at some yet-to-be-determined location.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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