Yup. I need a vacation.

road-flagsI was looking through my accrued vacation time today on my employer’s payroll site.  I have a trip coming up and I was just curious to see what kind of vacation bank I have.  After all, I’ve been with this employer less than 3 years and I took a week off last year, so I couldn’t have that much time left after I finish this upcoming trip.

I was surprised.  As of today there are more than 181 hours sitting there waiting to be used.  When I get back from my trip in June, there will still be over 109 remaining.  This is new for me.  I’ve always worked for employers in the past who didn’t allow vacation rollover at the end of the year.  “Use it or lose it” had been the policy.  My current employer also has a policy to force you to not let it accumulate forever.  You’re not allowed to bank more than 250 hours – so when you get close to that level it’s also use-it-or-lose-it.  But somehow that feels so much more equitable.  In my prior world, there were times when things were so busy, especially for a person who was, so called, “in charge” that a lot of years it was very hard to squeeze in all the vacation time one had coming without either a.) feeling like you were abandoning the job;  or b.) being made to FEEL like you were abandoning the job by the various bosses.

Maybe there’s something to be said for working for a guv’mint – or maybe my current employer is just more mature and humane than the cutthro— uh, ….. people I used to work for.  I’m guessin’ more the latter…

So, a lot of vacation time piled up.  Why?  Oh, I suspect I’m like millions of other Americans that use their vacation time very poorly.  I’m just as guilty as others – don’t want to return to a pile of work;  don’t think I can afford to take time away, so why bother;  don’t want to inconvenience my colleagues;  still stuck with the old job’s unspoken, unwritten but completely and clearly obvious “if we can do without you for two weeks, we can do without you” mentality.  It’s all there and it leads to stress, and lack of sleep and being less than pleasant at the office, withdrawn from friends and on and on.

… and I’ve done this forever.  Ask anyone who knows me.  Me and vacations are not something that many people who know me would associate in the same sentence.

At any rate, I suppose everyone eventually gets to a point where some time off is just about necessary.  Webster’s defines “vacation” as:

1  an extended period of recreation, esp. one spent away from home or in traveling : he took a vacation in the south of France | people come here on vacation [as adj.] a vacation home

So, off I go.  I’m actually looking forward to this one.  I took a staycation last year just to get away from the office for a week, but I honest to goodness didn’t go anywhere at all – oh, I took one of the bikes out for a day and rode around, but I was back home that same night in my own bed.  During 2014, I was off work for several weeks in the spring and fall, but as a good friend of mine reminds me, “dealing with the deaths of your father and your brother … uh, not vacations.”  So this will be, as far as I’m concerned, the first “real” vacation I’ve taken since the summer of 2013 when I flew back to Maine to see mom and dad just before I started my new (and current) job.

Time to charge up the memory banks with some new ones.  Time to have some fresh adventures.  A two nation, four province, 19 state, 23 day, 7000+ mile trip usually proves to be pretty good in both of those areas.  Sure, the middle of those three weeks is a work week, but not the day to day work I do all the time – that school alone will be a new adventure and from everything I’ve heard from people that have attended before me, it’s a blast.

T-Minus 16 days and counting.


(image credits: yulialavrova / 123RF Stock Photo  lenm / 123RF Stock Photo )