Jul 3, 2006

Day Off

Not the recommended viewing angle by the American Academy of Pediatrics Its Monday and I am not at work. Like millions of Americans I have decided to take the day squeezed between the weekend and the 4th of July off. Sneedlet is still with us and is at present watching the video, Toy Story 2. I was reading the paper today and two different, but related, items caught my attention. Both are about how we manage our work lives. Perhaps you believe you have no control whatever over your work life but you would be wrong. At the very least you make the decision about where you work. You may rationalize about all sorts of things that keep you where you are but they are just excuses. In the end if you stay in a truly crappy job, it is because you have decided that the crappiness you know is better than the crappiness you don't. I've said this before but I'll say it again. I'm in favor of working, I've appreciated every job I've had, but my bosses' crusades are not mine. I sell my time, they buy it. The point of a job is to support yourself in the most tolerable way possible. The first article I read focused on why 1/3 of all employees use less than their full allotment of vacation time each year. This year the average worker will voluntarily give up 4 days of vacation. The second piece dealt with how we are working longer and longer hours, either because the boss won't staff correctly or cannot. Each year the average worker is asked to "do more, with less", which you likely have experienced. Some workers believe that they are too indispensable to take off because the work wouldn't get done or done correctly. Others have no ready replacement for them while they are off. Some just secretly are afraid that the boss will figure out that they are not really indispensable at all. People do what people do, but here is my take on it. Bosses make decisions that affect our job security all the time. Waldo in accounting doesn't get to make policy decisions for the company. Bosses rarely saunter down to the cubicle farm to run the latest from headquarters by the little folks before implementing it. So if we are short-staffed, it is not really my problem to solve. If they need my vacation time, I am willing to negotiate a buyout with them for it. Vacation time is a part of total compensation and people who give up vacation are giving up part of their pay. In 2001 I was working on a special project that took me on the road for 2 weeks per month. For the first eight months of the year I took no time off because I had a deadline to meet for my work. The boss knew that when I was done I would be off for an extended period and we were both okay with that. After completing that assignment I was given another one with an October 15th deadline. This still left me plenty of time to take my 35 days of accumulated days off before I would lose them on December 31st. I also got a new boss in the process. When I told her that when we met the October 15 deadline, I would be off from Thanksgiving through Christmas she had a fit. She told me that it was unacceptable and that she always gives back two weeks per year of her vacation. I guess that is why she was boss and I was not. We agreed that I would start using a day per week immediately and minimize the big block of time off at the end. Around Thanksgiving I was retired early (laid off) anyway. So much for being indispensable. I have also developed a concept called undertime. As the name suggests, it is the opposite of overtime. I have been a salaried worker for most of my life so I don't get paid for overtime. As a result the boss has been quick to point out that I need to work it. He/She has been not so forthcoming in suggesting I take an hour or two off. So I keep things in balance by taking off now and then, when I can. Seems reasonable to me. I don't always tell this to the boss so as not to upset him/her. Simple. At the end of day, if you suddenly die, are institutionalized or incarcerated, kidnapped by aliens, assumed into heaven by the rapture or get hit on the head and forget who you are, the job will go on without you. Get some perspective. Merle Tag: