It’s a public holiday here in the US this weekend (I have to stop myself from calling it a bank holiday if I want to avoid the blank stares of my colleagues), and it seems that in offices across the city, people are leaving early to get a head start on their journey to wherever it is that they’re going.
As has been pointed out by many friends (and family), American jobs don’t come with much holiday attached – as little as two weeks, compared to the relative luxury of four to six weeks in Europe. As a result, many Americans make the most of their weekends with two-day mini-holidays, while those in the UK sit around in their pants watching Soccer AM and frittering away their time until Monday.
While the European belief in “working to live” rather than “living to work” is surely a more healthy and social approach to life, you can’t help but be impressed by the work ethic of New Yorkers. The last couple of weeks have seen me leave the office between 6 and 8.30 in the evening, which is pretty similar to the hours I kept in London. But what I’ve noticed when catching the subway home though is that if you’re leaving at around 6 or 6.30, the trains are relatively empty considering how packed they are when coming into work in the morning. If you leave at 7 or 7.30 though, the trains are rammed with people finally heading home.
My experience of London is that by 7.30pm, the big rush is over and people are at home watching Eastenders, or arguing over whether to get a quattro stagioni or a chicken dansak.
Could it actually be that New Yorkers just work harder than Brits? Or is it the simple fact that unlike in the UK, bars don’t close at about 11 so there’s no need to be racing out of the office at breakneck speed to enter the National Binge Drinking Olympics?