Vacation Shame - It's a Crime To Take The Time

Me.  Mt Liberty,  New Hampshire.  

Me.  Mt Liberty,  New Hampshire.  

It is inevitable.  There is an email which always shows up 1-2 days into your vacation:

Hi There!

Don’t worry about answering this until you get back from your vacation. I just wanted to put this out there so I wouldn’t forget.  While you were gone, we found all these errors. We’re out of the one thing you didn’t order before you left and everyone needs one NOW, and I really need to talk about a few things with you.  But, don’t worry about it now. In fact, stop checking your emails! See you on Monday when you’re back!

Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire

Falling Waters Trail, New Hampshire

You’ve gotten this email too, haven’t you?  It always arrives mere seconds after you’ve plopped your ass on a beach chair and taken the first frosty sip of your frozen drink.  You’ve finally relaxed, and fucking Alice decides to napalm your happy with her nasty little message.  She knows what she’s doing. She has been waiting to send this email ever since she heard you were taking a week off.

There is an Alice in every office, and sometimes, there is a Joanne too.  I call them the “Vacation Shamers.”

The Vacation Shamers are dried up, and soulless workaholics who believe you shouldn’t be taking that vacation.  You know these people;  they are the self-righteous employees who walk around talking about how many hours they work to the point that they don’t have time to take a day off, much less a vacation.  In fact, one of them cancelled their vacation last year because the office needed them. Thank God for them, or the building would just fall to rubble. To them, taking a vacation is clearly abandoning the office and automatically marks that you has a second-rate employee. 

Do you remember the vacations before email, cell phones, texting, Skyping, conference calls and the internet as a whole?

I do….with orgasmic delight. A delight dimmed over the years by alerts from my iPhone.  How do you NOT check your email? I remember apologizing to an employer because I was staying in the White Mountains and “service might be spotty.”  I would do my best to check in when I had a signal, even if it meant driving out of the woods into town.  I had prepared my department for my absence, people were covering my closings, there were no urgent matters, and even if an emergency did come up, I wasn’t the owner of the company so what could I do?  I was on the side of a mountain….um….that’s right….ON MY VACATION!  The vacation time so eloquently explained to me in my hiring interview as a “benefit” the company gave employees.

I nearly shit my pants walking down this trail

I nearly shit my pants walking down this trail

So, I ask employers: Why offer vacations time? If it is a crime to do the time, why offer it at all? Make it optional like health insurance or 401K.  Employees must contribute a little extra to “benefit” from that time off.

Inc. Magazine stated, “Last year, more than half (54%) of American workers didn't take all their vacation days according to a recent study from US Travel Association Project: Time Off.”

Here, we are on our soap boxes screaming about “selfcare” and we aren’t even taking our vacations. And…even if we take our vacation, we’re not really on vacation if our email must be checked every hour on the hour.  Or those texts…you know the ones…they start with “Sorry to bother you on your vacation but….” They’re not sorry.  If they were, they wouldn’t bother you. Your employer wouldn’t let them bother you because no one should be bothering you.  YOU’RE ON BLOODY VACATION.  Even if vacation means sitting at home in your pajamas, binge watching Netflix while inhaling nachos (guilty).

We collectively need to take a stand on vacations and play nice like the Europeans who happily take over 20 days off a year (paid days off).

You know, the same Europeans who are in better shape than us, eat better and overall have a happier existence.

Maybe it has something to do with taking vacations?