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So This Is Why It’s Called <i> Labor </i> Day : Holiday: Some employees must take the day’s name literally so that others can celebrate with a day off.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

While most people are sunning themselves on the beach, picnicking in parks or reveling at back-yard barbecues on Labor Day, some will be on the job to help make the holiday more enjoyable for all.

Mark Markert, 34, manager of the Home Depot on Huntington Drive in Monrovia, said the holiday will most likely turn into a party, or picnic, for employees and customers alike.

On Memorial Day, he said, the store gave away 2,000 hot dogs. Similar plans are in store for Labor Day. It’s a treat for employees who cannot be with their families, he said.

“My wife doesn’t like it,” Markert said of his holiday work schedule. “She would rather spend time with me, but we need bread on the table. Somebody has to do it.”

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J. R. Delk Jr., regional manager of the do-it-yourself warehouse chain, said Labor Day at Home Depot will be just like any other Monday.

“In most businesses people want the day off, but it’s not important in our business,” he said. “In the retail business, we generally don’t have weekends, or Mondays, off. We don’t have 8 to 5, Monday through Friday jobs.”

Mickola Matthews, 21, an assistant manager at the Wherehouse on Azusa Avenue in West Covina, said most store employees work holidays by choice.

“It doesn’t bother me at all,” she says. “I don’t do anything on holidays, anyway. It’s fairly easy to get people to work.”

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Some police officers work almost every holiday because of their rotating schedules.

“You name them, I’ve worked them,” said West Covina Police Lt. John Schimanski, who is scheduled to work a 12-hour shift Monday. “It comes with the job. I’ve grown accustomed to working on holidays. I’ve learned to do things on weekdays.”

His most memorable holiday stint was on a Christmas Eve. About 2:30 a.m., he recalled, a woman phoned and wished him a Merry Christmas. When he asked who she was, she responded, “ ‘I’m just a citizen who appreciates you, since you can’t be with your family,’ ” he said.

Schimanski said he expects Monday to be a quiet day for his officers because many residents will be out of town. But, he does anticipate a few complaints about noisy back-to-school parties.

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Tom McLaughlin, 18, a checker at a Vons grocery store in Glendale, said he tries to work all the holidays, because he is paid triple his hourly wage. Vons stores are unionized.

“The store’s atmosphere is better on holidays,” he said. “People are happy thinking about all the money they’re making.”

Two emergency-room nurses at Glendale Adventist Medical Center consider Labor Day “a minor holiday,” which pays them time-and-a-half.

“We learn to make our own holidays on our days off,” said Bob Brown, 34. “It’s shift work and we have to take turns.”

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Brown and colleague Lynda Gallagher, 30, expect at least 100 people to flow into the emergency room Monday because private doctors’ offices are closed. They will deal with mostly minor cases, such as cuts, sprained ankles, hurt fingers.

They also expect to see some picnickers with upset stomachs from eating, or drinking, too much.

Although the two nurses do not mind working Monday, they say people are often unappreciative of their services.

“People expect us to be here and they take us for granted,” Gallagher said. “About one out of 10 really appreciate it. You give them instructions (about medications) and they walk away and never say thank you.”

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Brown nodded in agreement.

“People come in the middle of a family outing and want to get out quickly,” he said. “They don’t understand that there are people here with heart attacks.”


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