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May Day: A story

Updated on May 1, 2012

It was May 1st, 1964 and the butchers from the city slaughterhouse were told to gather at their workplace at 7 am despite it be a holiday. It seemed ironic to most that they had to show up on the international day of work, but it would be worth it in the end. The slaughterhouse workers were all given fresh and clean butchers clothes to wear for the parade. The head of the slaughterhouse made a quick inspection of everyone's clothes and bleached white hats. Once they were given the go ahead everyone boarded one of 3 buses that would take them out to the parade ground where they would meet their float.

They were at their brand new float by 8 am. Five selected workers had the honor of actually riding on the float where they would demonstrate how sausages are filled on a sparkling clean new hand operated grinder. The rest of the workers were given red ribboned pins to attach to their chests. Some were given posters and banners exalting the communist party, Marx, Engels, Lenin, and their own ruler. The day was already getting hot and the workers were getting bored as they waited for everything to be made ready. They were to be one of many floats representing all of the city's industries, factories and organizations. There would be brass bands playing communist marches and children pioneers waving small red flags alongside their own national flag. People would be packing the sidewalks, balconies and windows cheering - albeit somewhat unenthusiastically, as if it were expected of them - and waving even more flags.

The workers were told that this was their day, and that they should be happy that they have to march in this parade which was being put on in their honor collectively. They were told before moving out that as they reached the platform where the mayor was standing with the cities other notable they were to yell an enthusiastic "Hurrah!" as convincingly as they could. Any worker seen not being enthusiastic enough would be summoned to the factory manager's office for a meeting with the political heads in charge of communist moral the next day for questioning.

The workers started moving out before, on top of and after their float as they plastered fake smiles onto their faces and waved their hands and flags as much as they could for fear of looking unenthusiastic. The bras band stated playing as the musicians started sweating in the heat of their uniforms as the crowds sporting equally fake smiles waved to the parade. The only ones with genuine smiles were the children and those men who didn't have to march with any float, as they were usually already on their second bottle of wine by they time these events started at 10 am.

The tedious and tiring parade was getting on everyone's nerves by noon, when the event was scheduled to end. The brass band started to play slower and slower, and everybody's arms were barely able to keep waving any longer. Despite this being a holiday in honor of them, the workers couldn't help but feel they were working. Everyone mustered whatever strength they had at the end of the long walk to let out a resounding "Hurrah!" for the mayor and other communist party bosses on their platform. The parade was over. Everyone let their arms hang limply at their sides as they stared listlessly at the red flags waving above the platform.

Now came what they were waiting for, the long awaited prize for the day. All of the workers were given a pair of sausages, some horseradish sauce, and a mug of beer in celebration of their day. Everyone ate their sausages in a matter of seconds and then drank their beer slowly, as this was a rare treat. It was not the usual watered down liquid they could usually get at the state operated bars. This was real beer. This made the whole day of waving, smiling, cheering and parading worthwhile. Some workers managed to get more than just one mug of beer, which they gulped down as quickly as they could. As the drink made its way to brains, some workers became talkative whilst others became even more sullen and sad. They were trying to remember whether they looked enthusiastic enough during the festivities, as the threat of being called into the factory manager's office the next day loomed overhead gave reason for unease.

Finally, everyone made their way home: some stumbling, some crawling, some with eyes fixed firmly on the pavement.


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    • frantisek78 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks a lot theclevercat! It is a fictionalized version of events that I vaguely remember seeing mixed with first hand accounts from family members. Thanks for reading, commenting and voting!

    • frantisek78 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks a lot theclevercat! It is a fictionalized version of events that I vaguely remember seeing mixed with first hand accounts from family members. Thanks for reading, commenting and voting!

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Excellent story -- is this straight fiction, or did you write up a version of a personal account? Either way, it's really well done. Voted interesting.


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