You could almost hear the collective groan from daily paid workers and employers. Similar moans of discontent would have emanated from those with longstanding medical appointments or the courts that are already backlogged with cases. There were probably cheers from some employees, the usual Monday morning blues wiped away by the whimsical decision of a Prime Minister.
As ever, it's a case of "the more things change, the more they remain the same". It is baffling to try to imagine the thought process of the Government in their belief that it is a good idea to call a national holiday on the first day of the working week, with a mere four and a half hours notice. This, from a political party that promised a change to such knee jerk reactions and who, were they in Opposition, would no doubt have heavily criticised any government that casually decides to put unnecessary strain upon a struggling economy by costing the nation millions of dollars in productivity. Throw in the fact that this particular month of August already has the economic burden of three other public holidays and the bafflement turns to worry that a leader cannot consider all the factors that affect the nation.
A hastily arranged holiday sends the wrong message to the psyche of a nation, more so in the aftermath of a disaster such as Saturday's floods with the resulting death and damage. The overall message should be for the nation to show the fighting spirit by getting back out to work, for things to return to normal as soon as possible; a show of defiance in the face of disaster. When the same city where our athletes have just garnered the record haul of medals, was bombed on July 7, 2005 —the day after the announcement that they would host the 2012 Games —Londoners returned to work in droves on July 8. The focus here, even with Keshorn Walcott's wonderful and uplifting performance, are those areas suffering in the aftermath of the combination of Mother Nature's fury and our own contribution via blocked drainage and cutting away the hillsides.
The calling of a national holiday 48 hours after the flooding, maintains the five-second goldfish memory of the society, as we quickly move on to the revelry of Walcott's return, while ignoring the effects upon the economy and the negative communication that it sends out to potential investors.
But we won an Olympic gold medal I hear you say. That deserves recognition, especially for a nation that has waited 36 years for the precious metal.
Of course it deserves recognition and perhaps yes, even a holiday to honour the achievement, but the problem is that the People's Partnership is not a properly planning partnership and in its eagerness to capitalise upon the public relations opportunity it has not realised that with some thought, it could have satisfied the need to celebrate our Olympians, provide the public and private sectors with ample notice so as not to seriously affect work practices and have their PR exercise all at once.
Consider this scenario: Keshorn Walcott returns, gold medal in hand, and is met and greeted by the PM and the relevant dignitaries as well as an adoring public who will have no doubt turned up, public holiday or not.
Announcements regarding the gifts to be bestowed upon him are made, perhaps a motorcade through his native Toco follows, but for the nation it is a working day without the most impromptu of holidays. All the while the clean-up of the flooded areas continues as T&T shakes off the ordeal through the return to normalcy of a working Monday.
The PM also announces an Olympic Appreciation Day which is a public holiday to be held on Monday September 3, tagged onto the Independence Day holiday weekend. Employers groan a little less because while not ideal to productivity, the notice allows enough time to plan. On the holiday the government can salute and fete the Olympians in one showing, the collective celebration a master coup in political PR.
It also offers the likes of Lalonde Gordon, our double bronze medallist from the London Games, the opportunity to be saluted in the manner as Walcott because all of the Olympians are present. In the year of Jubilee celebrations aligned to that long awaited gold medal, there is less opposition to a 15th holiday being added and certainly less impact upon the mechanical forces that drive the nation.
Is this scenario too farfetched for a responsible government to visualise? The problem is that, like previous regimes, this government is quick off the mark with the knee jerk reactions, not putting structure behind its decisions, so that in the end those decisions are made on a whim and are therefore irresponsible.
A national holiday for our Olympians? Yes. A national holiday with less than five hours notice? Of course not. How can a government be seen to be proactive and aiding productivity, when it contributes to the disruption?
• Sheldon Waithe has a degree in business and is a freelance writer,
commenting mainly on sport