Confessions of a vacation neurotic

I’m coming up on a fairly long stretch away from the office. My resolve will be tested.

Vacations quaintly are designed to give your body and mind a break from work and an opportunity to do things you can’t do while on the job. Even if you burn the days off in a hibernating stay-cation instead of flying to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s still valuable time spent not concentrating on your job.

The digital age has screwed up the whole traditional “let’s go to the hot springs and sunbathe and sleep for two weeks” vacation groove. A Netiquette blog post on CNN today reports that almost 60 percent of American adults check their work e-mail during holidays. I’ll bet the percentage is far higher during vacations.

So, e-mail checker, are you getting a good holiday, a lazy, fun vacation? Not like you used to, I’m sure.

In recent years I’ve been the occasional victim of vacations or long weekends sullied because I gave into the neurotic impulse to keep track of e-mail every couple of days. Of all the e-mails I’ve opened on vacation that elicited a curse of frustration, I can’t recall a single one that absolutely required my immediate response or action. But many of them washed away vacation dreaminess like a blast of freezing water.

This time, I intend to maintain strict radio silence, like they say in the war movies. No Facebook. No Twitter. No virtual private network connection to the office. And above all, no Outlook e-mail retrieval.

In theory, this will be a blissful time filled with fun and relaxation, with minimal or even nonexistent qualms about what kinds of crises might be playing out back at the workplace. Yes, I should return to work limber in all muscles and joints and grinning like a happy fool.

Of course, I can think of several hazards that might blow up my clever plan:

- I’m leaving my cell phone number, so they’ll call me if needed. Everything left hanging will come rushing back into my unprotected vacation-brain.

- Something urgent actually might come up that deserves my attention right away. Upon returning to work, I’ll examine the carnage and berate myself for not being plugged in to quickly resolve or minimize the problem.

- I’ll doggedly hold to my vow of digital silence but be guilt ridden the whole time, worrying about what kind of disaster I may be allowing to happen by not being on eternal duty.

- My boss might read this blog post and become annoyed that I’m plotting something that could be categorized as managerial slacking.

Nevertheless, I’m going to try it. After vacation, I’ll come back to work as a fully rested and restored ball of fire deserving of immediate fat raises and promotions. I’ll also post a postscript to this post. (See? I really do need a vacation.)

Finally, I’m wondering how others cope with work-related vacation demands or anxieties. Please post your thoughts here.

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5 Responses to Confessions of a vacation neurotic

  1. Bob Becker says:

    Mark:

    It works. Bring no laptop. If you have a superphone, don’t use it to check email. Blog not. I’ve been doing it for years on trips, long and short, and it works. I also don’t read newspapers on vacation or watch TV news. NPR goes off the dial for music only stations. If the world ends while we’re camping in the Tetons or at a B and B in Park City, I won’t find out about it until I get home.

    Away means away in every possible sense. And it works.

  2. I think one of the worst things that happens when we go on vacation is if we find that the universe in fact did NOT collapse without us … oh the need to be needed – but maybe that’s just me.

    While I’m pretty sure that if you were to take a prolonged leave of absence, the department could very well go up in flames… you do have a more than able crew – so go climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or whatever fun you’re planning, and have a good time! Take photos and post them when you get back :) Merry Christmas!

  3. ctrentelman says:

    People used to go off into the wilderness and tell folks back home “if you haven’t heard from us in two years, start to worry.”

    And yet, somehow, the world kept turning.

  4. Levi Khristian Florence says:

    Head Gear off to U Senior Mark! Even you and the staff wear a myraid of Hats.
    You struck a cord of The Holidays of yesteryears.
    In days gone by, myself and the immediate Clan would sojourn to
    Fishing Bridge, West Yellowstone National Park… to refresh and rejuvinate the Spirit of Christmas. Antelope, Bison, Bear and Elk
    were a plentitude. This was before Parks and recreational authority
    drove the Grizzley and Grey Wolfe into the Wilderness of the
    High Country. The tributaries of Yellowstone Lake was abound with
    Rainbow Trout and Salmon. Dad and the siblings would knell at the Rivers white rapid and glance underneath the mirror turbulence, as the Red Salmon in Schools of 10 or More, would be treading stationary.
    With the arm extended up to the elbow, Sisters and Brothers would submerge our arms while maintaining equalibrium and balance. Without the aide of Pole and Tackle would sneak from the tail fin up to the breathing gill. It took an aquired grace and the patience of Job to be ever so gentle, while depressing ones’ hand over the cold blooded creation. Thus lifting out for our \Trophy Catch\.
    This Specie returns semi-annually after procreating to lay there
    offspring. Thus with out doing harm or bodily damage, get a
    A Post-Card photo to send to Grampaw and Gramma back home.
    As the [Standard Works] and Christ would essay to his devotees
    on the shores of Galilee to Peter Simon;
    \…Come with me and I Will make you a catcher of men…\
    Friends and Family have taught proficently. Today the avid
    sportsman in me, dictates that when I drop a line with hook & lure, that the mere worshipfull \dynamic\ is very contemplative;
    Like our Youth of today, I \Hug the Salmon\ and pass on the admonition aloud in \self talk\. \Stay in School\ and DARE to
    Stay Away from Drugs. You to \May\ get Hooked. Juve Hall
    will not always Catch and Release You. Good Luck.

  5. Mark Shenefelt says:

    I made it the whole 10 days without signing onto Facebook or Twitter. But in a moment of insanity, I decided to check my work e-mail on Thursday, Dec. 30. Not a good idea, as noted above. What did I eat that day to make me lose focus?

    The website went down New Year’s morning. I got a phone call about it and spent a few hours following up and monitoring and fretting.

    In balance, the vacation was a good escape from the electronic noise I live with. The late hiccups didn’t really spoil it. Nothing’s ever perfect and neither was my plan of a hermetically sealed disappearance.

    Now, back to the grindstone.

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