It’s summertime, at least temperature wise (the real thing doesn’t start until June 21), and a lot of people are making plans to take at least a few days and get away from work and the old hometown.
Though, according to a bunch of news stories I’ve read recently, just as many, if not more, aren’t making any plans at all. Summer just means you go to work complaining about how hot it is instead of fighting a bitter wind and saying you’ll never complain about the heat again.
If all goes according to plan, I’ll be taking next week off. Don’t worry. I’ll still crank out another column so your week won’t feel empty and pointless. I’m a good guy that way.
Anyhow, I’ve been taking at least two weeks a year off for as long as I can remember. Back in the old days, after you’d been employed for a certain number of years, you got 20 off days, four weeks, a year and you could use them however you wished. If you didn’t use all of them, they didn’t carry over into the new year, but you were reset automatically to four weeks.
Now, you get no set days at the beginning of the year, but you quickly earn them and you don’t stop earning them until you get to 160 hours (four weeks), and if you use some of them, you start earning them again as soon as you come back to work. And you can carry 80 hours or less over to the new year.
Yeah, it’s basically a different way of doing the same math, but it’s time off and that’s nothing to be sneezed at.
At least, it didn’t use to be. While myself and what few co-workers I have left do take time off and try to use as many of those replenish-able hours as we can, it appears a lot of you just let that time go, never to be seen again.
Why is that? Well, according to a survey of 2,500 adults by Bankrate.com, these were the top six reasons:
1. Can’t afford it — 60 percent
2. Can’t take time off work — 9 percent
3. Family obligations — 13 percent
4. Health/age — 15 percent
5. Other — 5 percent
6. Vacationing another time — 6 percent
Not having the money is far and away the number one reason. I can understand that. In recent years, thanks to car payments and medical bills (it’s a pain getting old), vacation time for us has basically meant just hanging around the house, getting long ignored chores done, with maybe an occasional day trip.
Health/age came in a distant second (though it’s at number 4 above; don’t ask me. I just copied and pasted it). If you don’t feel like it, or you’re super old, like early 50s, traveling isn’t something you really want to do.
I don’t get family obligations. I feel no obligation toward my family. They all take the kind of vacations I can’t afford, so forget ‘em. I’m gonna take one myself.
Can’t take time off also isn’t a worry. The company encourages us to take time off. I think they’re secretly hoping we won’t come back.
Taking a vacation at another time is understandable. If you really want to hit the beach, prices are much better in the fall or early spring. Only super rich people with titles, like editor, can take a beach vacation during Memorial Day week.
As for “other,” well, who knows how many reasons fit under that title? I guess “you’re a miserable old crank who doesn’t like fun” would fit in there.
There is a fear that if you take off for a vacation, you’ll be viewed as not being a team player and plans will be put into place to find your replacement. That’s probably true at some places. Part of that fear stems from the fact America is one of the few, if not the only (I don’t want to look it up), modern nations to not guarantee some paid time off.
By comparison, Canada guarantees 19 paid off days a year, Japan has 25 and Italy makes you take 30 paid days off. Spain, the Florida of Europe, has 39 mandated paid days off.
There is a rumor it’s actually 39 mandated work days in Spain, but the country denies it.
I know. None of those countries are America, so they’re obviously wrong. But when summer comes to an end and you look back and realize you worked 95 percent of the days that end in Y (you had to take some days off to avoid that communist threat of overtime), will that make you happy or make you think you just wasted another summer?
I’m talking about the wife here. I’m still young and vital. Ask anybody who’s only seen me from a distance.