Brundle Guy writes:
First of all, I must apologize. When I was asked to join this ragtag group of misfits and ne’er-do-wells I was frothing at the mouth to get some posts going, make a bunch of comments, start a few polite dust-ups and generally mix it up with you laudable lot. However, you’ll notice that after a couple of weeks being an active member, this is my first post. “What gives?” you may rightly be asking.
You must forgive me. I have sinned. I committed one of the most heinous and unforgivable acts a modern working man can. It shames me so much I can barely type out the words. I… I…
I went on vacation.
Brundle Gal and I spent four days, only two off from work, to go down to New Orleans, indulge in some hot, sticky weather, delectable food, amazing architecture, incredible jazz and generally have ourselves a time. Adding to our horrific societal crimes, we didn’t even bring a computer. There was nary a remote log-in or work email to be had. It was just the two of us, getting away from it all for a few days.
But don’t worry, I’m paying for these transgressions. I’ve had to work even longer and later upon my return, take more home and indulge in that only-half-joking office banter wherein coworkers say, through rictus grins, “Hope you had a good time, we missed you, it was so busy you can NEVER GO ON VACATION AGAIN.” In this world where everyone seems to be overworked, understaffed and pushed to extremes, taking a vacation can make a person feel like the imprisoned revolutionary who becomes the hangman’s assistant for an extra serving of gruel.
I’d like to know, when did “vacation” become a dirty word?
There’s a number of related topics I’d love to get into soon about the rise of management, real versus perceived work, and one of my biggest bugaboos of late, the inability people seem to have regarding assessing the actual value of things. But this post is already going to be WAY too long, and it’s getting late, so what I’d like to do now is put forth some of my own recent brushes with the demonization and eradication of personal time:
Brundle Gal got a promotion very recently, which is exciting and well-deserved. Part of that promotion, however, will be an official, company-issued i-phone so that she can NEVER EVER BE OUT OF REACH EVER. Not only that, it’s international travel capable, so she won’t even be able to duck away from work by escaping the country. She hasn’t been harnessed by that particular corporate yolk yet, but it looms, it looms.
My boss, a man at the top of his admittedly fairly marginalized field, just went on his first week-long vacation in ages a bit ago. We received emails from him every day. Another coworker who has been in the game for a couple decades now talks about vacation like it’s some kind of trap. “You go on vacation for too long, they realize they don’t need you.” And this guy has a kid. That kid may never get to take some awesome, week-long vacation with his dad because the old man is scared out of his mind that he may appear to be a bad worker.
Many of my coworkers get to the end of the year and find they have vacation days to burn, and for some of them that’s exactly what happens. Those days just burn away. They don’t get taken because everyone’s too busy, you can only carry over five days, and they’re certainly not going to put any additional unused days towards any bonuses or incentives. Just burned.
Finally, Fridays are our big work days, and the Friday my boss was on his vacation my coworker and I stayed very late. We put out the work fires that had to be completed, but continued to stay at work a couple hours longer to clean up a few other dilemmas and do some prep work for next week. While we were still there, well into the evening, our boss wrote us an email saying he’d been watching the work flow from his vacation spot. Our big work for the week was completed, he saw, so what were we doing still working in the office that late on a Friday night?
The irony, apparently, was entirely lost on him.