BEIJING - Who wants to get back to work after a holiday?
Most wouldn’t. But many in China dragged themselves back to their work stations last Saturday, the seventh day of the lunar year, as the Chinese New Year holidays drew to a close for most people here.
Contrary to popular belief, the Chinese New Year here does not mean a glorious 15-day break for folks in the country.
Actually, this year, they got a grand total of three public holidays, just a day more than Singaporeans, as the eve and the first day of the Chinese New Year fell on a weekend.
Still, the Chinese got to take Monday to Friday off, though they had to make up for Thursday and Friday by working during the weekend of Feb 16 and 17.
This is common practice in China, for public holidays.
So, say, if the traditional springtime Qingming festival (or the tomb sweeping festival) falls on a Wednesday, the authorities usually make Thursday and Friday holidays too but workers would have to work the preceding weekend in exchange for the two days.
That means employees get only one public holiday.
But then, at least they can go away from Wednesday to Sunday, which is not so bad.
This Chinese New Year, after days of waking up naturally without setting the alarm clock, many in China shuffled back to work on Saturday.
“Today’s the first day of work. But I haven’t woken up from my long holiday dream,” someone posted on the Sina Weibo microblog, China’s equivalent of Twitter.
“At first I wanted to cry but then I thought, it’s the New Year, how can I cry?” the writer said.
The post-holiday crush, especially for those heading for big cities like Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, meant that some couldn’t get back in time.
Nor did smoggy skies help.
A colleague had her flight delayed while a friend said her plane had to be diverted to Seoul yesterday before it touched down in Beijing because visibility was too low.
Then there are those who had no excuse but were just “eating snake”, or slacking off in Singapore parlance.
The practice must be common enough, for reporters from the official People’s Daily newspaper, no less, conducted spot checks on Saturday, the first day of work after the holidays.
Civil servants in Tianjin and Beijing passed the test.
But those in western Xi’an City seemed less on the ball.
At the administrative hall of a district office, only six of the 14 counters were manned.
Employees openly snoozed.
The same scene was seen at another office in Xi’an.
Some staff were chatting while a young boy played on an office computer.
But this is nothing compared to party officials of Shuichuan township, in remote Gansu province.
They happily gave themselves 48 days off for the Spring Festival, starting from late January.
When did they plan to resume work? Er.. March 6.
How can these officials have the cheek to rest for such a long period of time, while others slog, many fumed.
That many express outraged at such behaviour suggests that the Chinese collectively frown upon sloth.
Their hard won reputation around the world for being hard workers is at stake after all.
True to form, low skilled workers from the countryside are already making their way back to the cities to look for better paying jobs this Snake Year, even though they are free to decide how long they want to rest this holiday.
So, who wants to get back to work ?
Well, ironically, those not strictly required to do so, are doing so.