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New Weekends!

New Weekends!

It’s not many times in a person’s life that a new weekend is declared, so we should feel quite privileged that our government has decided to implement a new weekend spanning Friday and Saturday, rather than the so far usual Thursday and Friday. This new weekend is set to start from September 1st, 2006 and I’m looking forward to it like you wouldn’t believe!

During my early life, I worked in a stationer’s/bookshop/art supply store owned partly by my dad and we worked a 6 and a half day week. We only had Friday afternoon off, and I used to be paid by a subscription to Tin Tin magazine! I later caught-on a bit and demanded money in addition to Tin Tin and was rewarded with a HUGE salary of BD30 a month, that’s just over US$100, a huge deal for an 8 year old. We carried on with Al-Taleb Stationary until the late 70s when its 4 owners decided to call it quits and closed it down.

Such a shame really, that was a piece of history and a lot of people, artists mainly, still remember it with tears of nostalgia, as it was their first touch with extremely hard to get art supplies which my dad – rest his soul – struggled to import from Japan, Belgium, Holland, Germany, England and other international points. Artists made Al-Taleb Stationary their regular haunt and stopping point, an informal place to talk art and solidify friendships. My dad at that time was still a teacher, so he was around only in the afternoons.

After Al-Taleb Stationary, my dad joined forces with his brother and another friend and started Arabia Glass & Mirrors Company. Unfortunately I didn’t join him there as I was far too busy being a teenager with a venerable afro, platform shoes, big collars, and “navy” flared trousers! Yes, the image of the venerable Michael Jackson in his early career comes to mind and it isn’t that much different from what I looked like at the time, save for his much darker features. At that time, we still had 6-day school weeks as we only took the Friday off…

But before the American Mission School (as it was called then, and is called Al-Raja School now) I was at the Sacred Heart which had even a more screwy weekend: a full day Friday and full day Sunday! Catholics, what can I say?

It was only when I went to university in Scotland that I experience a full and contiguous two-day weekend: it was a Saturday and Sunday! But realistically, the weekend was any day that we didn’t have an exam!

Back to Bahrain and my weekends were stranger than that Catholic school… I worked shifts, two days nights (8pm – 6am), one and a half day off, followed by two morning shifts (6am – 2pm) and immediately after that were two afternoon shifts (2pm to 8pm), and it carried on like that for 13 years until I decided that I have had enough of Gulf Air and left to manage my fledgling company.

At Computer Point we initially worked six-day-weeks, having only Friday off. (We exclusively sold Apple products then!) But of course nothing stays static. When we moved from a “shop” to an “office” as we started selling more corporate products exemplified by SGI we changed our weekend to five and a half days, having Thursday afternoon and Friday as days off, this is the situation we still use as our working week, an arrangement I must confess that I got really disenchanted with. My body (and my gardening) was telling me that it really needed a couple of days off in a week so that it can unwind and take care of itself…

Well, that time has now finally come. The government has decided, prompted by the Economic Development Board supported fully by the Chamber of Commerce (kudos to both for such a tangible step that people will remember them for) to switch and unify the weekend in Bahrain to Friday and Saturday.

Phew. About time! And I am really looking forward to that weekend.

Some of you might wonder why I didn’t just do it several years ago, as I own my business. The truth is, we have to respond to our customers needs, and as the government customers have Thursday and Friday off, while some of our private sector customers have Friday and Saturday off, we had to compromise and still keep our phones on throughout our weekend, just in case any of our customers require urgent support during their normal working hours. Now, with a unified weekend, we can join the human race as far as weekends are concerned!

1st September can’t come soon enough for me I can tell you. For a very very long time I shall enjoy two full days of rest… oh, but wait, our Saudi and Kuwaiti customers will still work Saturdays… DAMN! We have to at least keep our phones on for Saturdays just in case they need our assistance.

Still… better than a kick in the teeth!