By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Are you going to be at work on Friday?
It's Leap Day, an extra day, one more day than we had last year. It comes around every four years, and tell me where it says -- by whose rules, and under what moral philosophy -- that you owe that day to The Man? Your yearly salary hasn't increased, has it? That's the argument of Karl Savage, a high school English teacher from Silver Spring, who leads an international movement called the No Work on Leap Day Revolution. Its slogan is "Seize Back the Day."
I know of this movement because Karl told me about it in an e-mail. For some reason, though, a Google search coughed up no trace of the No Work on Leap Day Revolution or its slogan or Karl. When I telephoned Karl, he cleared it all up: He wants the movement to begin with this column.
Me: I can't write about a movement that doesn't exist.
Karl: It does exist. It just doesn't have a Web site because I don't know how to make one. But after I wrote to you, I started a Facebook group!
Me: So I see. I'm looking at it. You have a few dozen members. Many are teenagers. Some appear to be infants.
Karl: I know. No hip New York people are finding it. That's where you come in.
Karl: I also made bumper stickers.
Me: Good. How many have you distributed?
Karl: Well, I only made 25. It's all I could afford.
Karl: This is a good idea!
Me: I think there may be a logical problem with your suggestion that we're not paid for Leap Day.
Karl: Actually, I didn't do the math.
Me: Me, neither. Two of the greatest mathematicians in the world did the math for me. Curtis McMullen at Harvard is a winner of the Fields Medal, which is math's equivalent of the Nobel. Terence Tao of UCLA won the Fields Medal and a MacArthur genius grant. I talked to both of them, and they both said that, mathematically, because most of us work for an hourly or weekly wage, most everyone is compensated for the extra day. Only people who are paid by the month lose a day's pay, but they're already getting overpaid in February, because it's so short.
Karl: But, see, this isn't the point. I'm not a mathematician, but I understand poetry. And there is an inscrutable logic to the fact that this day is extra.
Me: Don't you mean immutable logic?
Karl: No, inscrutable. It can't be scruted.
Me: You're a stubborn guy. Are you taking Leap Day off?
Karl: Yes. I cleared it with the principal and arranged for a substitute, but when I tried to enter it into the computer system, it didn't recognize the date! See, it's The Man at work, still giving me trouble. I'm also going to pull my children out of school in a form of mild civil disobedience. For me, I worked through established means, but, with the children, I'll have to write them a note to say why. All you have to do is say something like "family issue," and no one asks any questions. Nobody wants to delve into that!
Me: I see.
Karl: I ENVISION A DAY WHEN EVERYONE IN THE WORLD WILL WAKE UP ON FEBRUARY 29 AND DO WHATEVER HE OR SHE WANTS TO DO, INCLUDING GO TO WORK IF THEY WANT TO.
Me: You're talking in all capitals.
Karl: This is big.
Karl: So, what do you think?
Me: I don't know, man. It's a little thin. I like the idea, but you've got to give me a reason that this is important. What will you be doing with your day?
Karl: Sleeping late, that's all. I won't be drinking alcohol or getting wild. I'm a Mormon. Mormons are very good at things like not having premarital sex. We've come far from our wild, Stick-It-to-the-Man roots.
Me: Hmm. So this is one person's quest to reclaim the roots of his religious identity in a time of flaccid secular homogenization?
Karl: Will that work?
Gene Weingarten can be reached at email@example.com.