A Celebration of Labor

Staff photo by Damien Fisher Jeannotte’s Market, at the corner of Manchester and Courtland streets, is a considered a Nashua city landmark and is believed to be the oldest grocery store in the city.

Editor’s Note: To commemorate the upcoming Labor Day holiday, reporters from The Telegraph interviewed employees representing three industries that do not stop for holidays: food service, nursing and trucking.

NASHUA – Today is the start of the annual three-day weekend that marks the unofficial end of summer. Instead of spending Monday at the office, in the shop, or at another place of employment, many will head to the beach or have a barbecue on Labor Day.

However, while numerous people will get Monday off, others will not.

Food Service

When Glynn Bingham started stocking shelves and running the cash register at Jeannotte’s Market at 16, he would get jealous of those who got to take off work for holidays.

Staff photo by Adam Urquhart Stephen Lyons stands in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post No. 8641, in Merrimack. He stopped by this week before heading home to rest up before shipping out to Buffalo, New York from Manchester.

Now that Bingham, 53, is the owner of the landmark store, he sees things a bit differently.

“Those holidays are usually good business days,” Bingham said. “That’s just part of retail.”

Bingham’s been with Jeannotte’s for 36 years, 18 as the owner. He remembers scooping ice cream for customers when the store had an ice cream counter. Now, the little grocery shop is known for its sandwiches, fresh meat, and friendly staff.

Jeannotte’s will be open for Labor Day, for last minute shoppers needing snacks or something to throw on the grill. Bingham said the store is open every holiday but Christmas.

“We’re even open Thanksgiving morning,” he said.

Bingham does manage to find some time to take a break from the job. He said he is fortunate have good employees at the store whom he can trust to run things. He simply prefers to be at work most of the time.

“If I want to keep my wife happy, I need to take a day or two off,” he said.

Nursing

Michelle Gardner always knew she wanted to be a nurse. Growing up, there was never a time she thought she might do anything else, although she never expected to work specifically in behavioral health.

Now, a registered nurse at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center’s west campus with more than 20 years of experience under her belt, Gardner has worked thousands of shifts, including many nights, weekends and holidays.

Many nurses and other medical professionals do not get to take off Labor Day. But for Gardner, it is all part of the responsibility of the job.

“When we go into (nursing), we know it’s 24/7,” she said. “Our patients don’t get to choose when they get sick.”

“We come in and we work an eight or 10-hour shift and then we go home,” she said. “Our patients don’t have that” ability to go home right away.

This is part of why she, as a clinical nurse manager, and her staff try to make holidays special for the patients who have no choice but to be there.

In behavioral health, she said, patients often do not have the same kind of support network that many others do; some of them are even homeless. Therefore, on holidays such as Christmas, they try to go out and buy something small for everyone. Those on the overnight shift will wrap the gift, and the patient has a present to open on Christmas morning.

“You have to take the good with the bad in everything you do,” Gardner said, adding that she has a wonderful team to help her.

For Kim-Ly Mobley, house nursing supervisor and emergency room nurse at SNHMC, her coworkers are also one of the best parts of her job.

While it can “absolutely” be hard to work holidays and weekends, missing parties, events and school performances, “getting to work with friends” helps make it easier, Mobley said.

Mobley does get Labor Day off this year because she worked July 4, but with a husband who works at Nashua Fire Rescue, another job that often has no days off, scheduling anything can be a challenge.

However, having been in the field for 15 years, and despite a current nursing shortage, Mobley said it is the patient care, the feeling of helping others, that makes it worthwhile.

“The emotional side can be difficult,” she said, adding, “I have a great team.”

Trucking

During his 38-year career driving semi-trailers across the nation, Merrimack resident Stephen Lyons believes he has logged nearly 3.3 million miles on the road. Many a holiday has he spent on the long and lonely highways of America.

Although his trips are generally shorter these days, he remembers what it is like to skip out on holidays and steer straight into the horizon, racking up millions of miles along the way.

“In the (19)90s, I did Los Angeles every week,” Lyons said.

However, when he was going all the way from New Hampshire to California in one straight shot, he was making the trek before much of the modern technology. Back then, teams of trucks, with two drivers in each truck, would make runs non-stop. The drivers would switch on and off to take turns driving in shifts.

“For long hauls, we only had Christmas off, and so, yeah, you go out and just run non-stop and you’d have 48 hours off when you got home,” Lyons said. “So, if you got home like, say, on a Tuesday morning, you’d have 48 hours off and go right back on like Thursday night.”

He said depending on where a driver ends up, it can be a good time.

Traveling across the country, Lyons said he would sometimes find himself passing through miles of wheat fields, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge or zipping through the Grand Canyon. Having passed through plenty of states on his way to California, Lyons said would often be asked about the prettiest place he has ever seen. He said his reply would always be, New Hampshire.

While often starting his shifts at night and driving through the early morning hours, Lyons said he splits his sleeping schedule into a pair of four-hour increments.

Lyons admits having to give up some things in life, such as holidays, to pursue this career is tough. Still, he said it has been a good lifestyle, so he keeps going.

Staff writers Damien Fisher, Hannah LaClaire and Adam Urquhart contributed to this report.