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Thursday, February 09, 2006

No siesta, solo fiesta

Could Spain’s legendary siesta be on the verge of extinction? It seems like people are clamoring for an 8 x 8 x 8 schedule, which means 8 hours for work, 8 hours for leisure, and 8 hours for sleep. As it is now, many companies obligate you to take 1 ½ to 2 hours for your lunch break. That makes your average workday 10-11 hours long.

The lunch hours here are too long sometimes. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s true. My first job, working en negro, or under-the-table, or more succinctly illegally (without papers), was loading textile rolls into trucks. This was in a warehouse in the Marina district. There we had 2 hour lunch breaks. In olden times, this was so you could eat and take a siesta afterwards. At least I’m assuming so. But during my year at the warehouse I never once took a siesta. Not once. And 2 hours to eat is way too much time considering you can’t do anything while you’re waiting to go back to work besides re-read the newspapers - or waste your euros in a slot machine. And, on top of that, it induces alcohol consumption. After the vino con gaseosa at lunch, carajillo de cognac afterwards, my coworkers and I would drink canyas as well. There was nothing else to do. Then, when I was really good and ready to take a siesta it was back to work for another 4 hours. And a very unproductive 4 hours those were …

It was such a drag to work at that place from 9-7pm everyday. I felt like I lived in that warehouse. I did learn a lot of trucker slang though. That was a perk … my only perk.

Not that I want the 8 hour workdays with half hour lunch breaks. With that kind of shift you only have time to eat a hamburger, then sit in front of your computer and wonder why your ass is growing bigger. That’s not the proper way to eat. I’m all for 1 hour lunch breaks where you have time to disconnect and digest your menu. That means one more hour for your leisure. More leisure can never be a bad thing.