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Blink twice, and this month is already gone

So you want to know what the problem is with August? You should have figured it out yourself by now, but, OK, I’ll tell you. August is the fastest month of the year. I say “fastest” advisedly. Nearly everyone knows that I cannot claim it is the shortest because February usually has 28 days, four others have 30 days, and the other seven, including August, each have 31 days.

So, how, you ask, how can I boldly claim in print that August is the fastest month?

That is an appropriate question and I want to assure readers that I reached that conclusion after significant thought and review of the available facts. To agree with my theory, you must be willing to accept the fact that quantity is irrelevant. The best example is February: its meager 28 days seem more like 35 or 40. It is endless.

Of all the months, August has the most regal heritage. As a common noun minus the capital “A,” it is just plain august, meaning impressive or respected. It is derived from Augustus Caesar, the Roman emperor who succeeded his uncle Julius. In contemporary parlance, the popular usage is “Gus,” often adopted as an approachable term of affection.

August, the month, however, is notable for its velocity. It annually arrives following a somewhat lackadaisical July. Oddly enough, although it has its own persona, its tempo is determined by the approach of Labor Day, the first Monday of the next month, September.

For years people have been asking themselves a question with only one answer: “Why does Labor Day come so fast?” It is because the August schedule was so overcrowded that the weeks vanished, leaving plans incomplete and tasks undone.

Although Labor Day is clearly enumerated in bold type on calendars, the entry is widely ignored until it is too late. The holiday arrives almost unheralded, virtually unexpected, because people were preoccupied, trying valiantly to keep pace with an overcrowded August agenda. Picnics, outings, golf tournaments, fishing trips and barbecues are all popular events, since August is viewed as the last phase of summer. But there is another reason: serial procrastination. Events that could have been held around Memorial Day or the Fourth of July for some reason were postponed, eventually to be crowded into an already congested August.

If it is true that time is fleeting, August is the “fleetest month.” The days and nights are so crammed; there is just not enough time to get everything done. Because of the style with which August comes and goes, arriving without fanfare and concluding so abruptly, individuals, families and businesses are left with lengthy lists of good intentions that remain unfulfilled.

However, all is not merely frivolity, picnics and days at the beach in August. As the countdown toward autumn continues, August has often been properly characterized as a wasteland for many business persons. Yes, some flee, seeking a quiet refuge, a brief interlude, far removed from the mundane arena of the workplace. Others remain on duty, but it is a perilous time for them. The offices are open, but the phones don’t ring. Many buyers and sellers have temporarily departed, and it is difficult to discuss a deal without them.

Yes, August can be a lonely and cruel time for the many businesspeople who remain on duty, eager to compete. They are delighted to mark the arrival and passage of Labor Day. The clocks spin out of control during August when there are never enough opportunities to accomplish all that needs doing. If you agree, when the time comes, join them in welcoming September.

Dick Hirsch is a longtime contributor to the Opinion page.

8/21/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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