Vacation All I ever Wanted…

Posted on | February 4, 2011 | 12 Comments

I may never go on vacation again.

This week has almost killed me. I feel like my life was picked up, spun around, and placed face down in a pile of garbage the size of New Jersey.  I’ve been working so hard that my fingers type letters in my sleep.  My neck has a permanent indentation exactly the size of the back of my earring from hours on the telephone. 

In short, I’m exhausted.  I don’t think I could write another memo or brief or even case summary without a pint of beer or a fifth of vodka. 

Isn’t it funny how we’re encouraged to take vacations? Our employers say things like “You have two weeks of paid vacation and we encourage you to use it.” Or threaten us that we will lose the time if we don’t take it.  Yet when we actually pack our bags, turn off the office light, and board the plane? All. Hell. Breaks. Loose.  Because the secret no one tells you is that yes, they encourage you to take a vacation. But what they mean is that you should get on a plane and work from a new place.  You know, plug your lap top in and work from a hotel lobby for a change of scenery.  Maybe dictate your letter from an airport baggage carousel.  They certainly can NOT mean to actually leave work behind for two weeks.  Because if you did that? You’d be screwed.

I had every intention of working from Nashville.  I took my laptop and my papers.  I even packed my trusty Dictaphone.  Did I work? Not so much.  I answered my blackberry when it rang.  I responded to emails when they came in. But I didn’t initiate any contact with the office.  I needed a break.  I wanted to clear my head.

And now I’m back. And all the contact I didn’t initiate then had to be made up.  All the correspondence I didn’t write, all the research I didn’t do, all the phone calls I didn’t make… no one did those for me. They just piled up in the corner, waiting for my return when they could swoop down on me like the Wicked Witch of the West and rain down fury like poop-throwing flying monkeys. 

Vacation in the corporate world is a myth.  It’s encouraged… by words but not by acts.  If you actually take that time? If you actually dare to test the waters of the vacation policy… you will be hunted down.  You will be stalked by the work you left behind for hours, days, and weeks after you return.  People will say things like “Well. That must have been when you were out of the office” like you were sitting at home for spite.  A friend of mine told me her husband was interviewed by a firm who wrote sonnets to their maternity and paternity policies. They went on and on about how they were one of the few firms who offered a paternity leave for new fathers and how they were very VERY family friendly.  After he took the job, he discovered that yes, they had the paternity leave… but no one had ever used it.

That’s like vacation in the corporate world.  It’s there and sure, you can look at it. It sounds good as part of your benefits package. But God help you if you take it.


12 Responses to “Vacation All I ever Wanted…”

  1. Jana A
    February 4th, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

    This is exactly why my husband never takes his. And pays for it later when he’s burned out. Sucks that it’s like that. We need to pick up the European way of working. But that would never work because WE know how to do it better. *rolls eyes*

  2. KLZ
    February 4th, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

    Oh, I refuse NOT to use mine. That’s part of what HR considers my “salary”. And I refuse to leave money on the table.

    Now, if I could just stop ordering in so much, we’d be rich.

  3. Mom on a Line
    February 4th, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

    This is one of the reasons I sometimes long to be a secretary in my firm rather than a lawyer. They can take a vacation and not think about work the entire time. Or, when the office closes for snow, they can do whatever they want. Attorneys just get to telecommute! Then again, being an attorney has its other perks.

  4. Crystal
    February 4th, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

    Back when we had the first 2 of our 4 boys, I worked in a bankruptcy department. ANd OMGosh, when I had to take time off, I think my work reproduced on its own at my desk. THe stress that comes after a day (or a week!) off almost makes it not worth it. My hubby feels the same. He works in the military with recruiting. When he gets back, he ends up working late hours just to catch up!

    I hope you are able to get through today and enjoy your weekend sans work!!

  5. LegallyInsaneMommy
    February 4th, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

    Ahhh. The best part of leaving private practice and going to work for the government is the week long vacation I take every summer, the half days I work on Friday and the sick days I actually get to use!
    I hope you recvoer soon!

  6. Law Momma
    February 4th, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

    Um, LegallyinsaneMommy I want your life. GIVE IT TO ME. 🙂

  7. Heather
    February 5th, 2011 @ 2:33 am

    I think part of it is that we, as individuals, have a hard time letting go of our responsibilities and entrusting them to others. I know the pressure I put on myself to be my best is more than anything the company puts on me. But when I went into labor 3 weeks earlier than planned, and was out for 5 months — as indispensable as I was, somehow the business didn’t completely fall apart without me.

    Maybe what we really need is to plan better for when we’re out for the shorter spurts, so we don’t feel like we got hit by a ton of bricks when we get back…

  8. Meredith
    February 5th, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

    Yeah, back when I was working in a corporate firm I had 4 weeks of vacation but if I had used it I wouldn’t have been able to make my billable hour requirement and it damn sure would have been frowned upon.

    The firm also offered 6 weeks paid maternity leave, I took it and was subtly punished when I returned. The last woman who’d had a baby before me took 4 days, she made partner the next year. I got the message.

  9. Diana @Hormonal Imbalances
    February 5th, 2011 @ 7:02 pm

    My husband will end his job with a month of vacation time, and over 100 hours of sick time.


    Taking any of it means he gets the short end of the stick for other things. Nevermind that he worked the past 3 Christmas’s, Thanksgivings, Easters, and all the other holidays.

  10. Booyah's Momma
    February 6th, 2011 @ 6:35 am

    It is such a double-edged sword, isn’t it? I wish for the time off. But after playing a week of catch-up, that’s when I feel like I truly need a vacation.

  11. Shelley
    February 7th, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

    I long for a federal job. But I’m an insurance agenct and we know that will never happen. Actually, I just long for a job that is not this one.

    Also, I always use my vacation time. If they don’t like it, they can suck it.

  12. Jennifer
    February 7th, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

    This is how it was when I worked for the big accounting firm. I was definitely encouraged to take time off, to go on vacation, to spend time with my family. You know, have work/life balance (whatever that means). But I also had to take my laptop with me and check email and respond to all requests and have my cell phone on and with me at all times in case I was needed. Definitely one of the things I don’t miss about working there.

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