Thursday, August 12, 2010

What the heck is a vacation?

To cite Merriam-Webster (and who doesn't), the word "vacation" means:

1) a respite or a time of respite from something;
2) a scheduled period during which activity is suspended;
a period of exemption from work granted to an employee;
3) a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation.

There is nothing in the dictionary I own that says anything about being constantly in contact - during one's vacation - with one's work environment by telephone, computer, cell phone, email, or pager. I have come to believe that Americans do not understand the concept of vacation, and don't therefore appreciate what can be gained by having one.

Let me elaborate. Of what use is a computer or cell phone or pager if you are lying on a beach hundreds (even thousands) of miles from your actual office? If something comes up that requires your attention, is it really so immediate and crucial that someone else in your office cannot handle it? If so, you really need to do some training and learn how to delegate or else work harder before you go on vacation so situations like these don't come up.

I can testify from personal experience that no one on a beach or in a seaside restaurant is the least bit interested in hearing second-hand about some crisis at your workplace.

It also baffles me that people seem to feel the need to connect (while on vacation) with every family member and friend they know. I've never figured out whether they are really that insecure, they are afraid they'll miss something, or they truly enjoy being indispensable (translation: an enabler).

So come on, folks, let's really chill out. Let's give ourselves permission to truly go on vacation. Leave the electronics at home or in the hotel safe, do a little basking on a beach or hiking across a mountain, and really truly "get away from it all". That's a real vacation.

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