If you’re lucky enough to have a steady job, you know how double lucky you are when is time for vacation. Whether you’ll travel to less known world places od just staying at home, paying for car registration or having a dental plaque removal… vacation days are holy.
I worked in an office for ten years (this is going to be intro in each of my texts).
This is how preparations for the vacation looked like.
In the early days, back in 2000s we still haven’t embraced western corporate standards… we kept it casual… the old fashion face to face vacation request (from now on FTFVR).
First, I thought about a vacation for a long time… where can I go… what can I do… searching for cheap flight tickets… After a few months of analyzing the tourist market, I finally chose where and when to go.
So this is the moment where I have to decide if I’m about to ask my supervisor if I can go on those particular dates (and fly directly into the risk of being declined cause of the workload) or if I should buy the plane tickets and just present situation as I cannot go back now.
Somehow… I always end up buying tickets first and then asking for permission.
FTFVR had to happened sooner or later. But I didn’t want it to happen. I just wanted to go wherever I wanted to go. So, following the laws of logic, I kept postponing the FTFVR as long as I could. Looking for the best opportunity… for the supervisor’s feel-good days, for us to win another account, or do some outstanding creative work… but the days got worse and worse… I kept telling myself repeatedly “Now is a bad time, now is not the good time”… the atmosphere got uglier, all the clients got even more anxious… nobody cared about my travel plans.
The trip is now way too close… I already bought sunscreen and mosquito bites lotion. I even choose what movie I’ll watch inflight. All of my friends and family already know about the trip. Except for my supervisor.
Final the day for the FTFVR arrived. It usually rains, you can hear the nervous traffic noise. I knock at the office door. He’s not here. Thank God. I wasn’t ready anyway.
Next day. Friday. Traffic jams. You have to yell while talking to your colleagues. I try the door again.
Yes Masha. Hello. What’s up.
Hello, hello, what’s up… oh look at that traffic… it’s the worst… nice poster you have over there… just babbling stuff that comes to my mind. So, I was wondering what the chances for me to go on a vacation are… cause I already kind of bought tickets…
He makes the face. Oh Masha… when I came here… I had a vision…
Then we talk about the vision for a while.
But afterwards he mentions friends… colleagues.
Times are difficult… we are short of people… what are your friends going to feel like if you’re not here.
I thought: They’re going to hate me and love me at the same time. So when you put it in an equation the result is – they’ll be almost OK.
Yes, you can go but…
I just don’t hear the rest. My mind just got blown away. From time to time I recognize words like responsibility, future, honor, chocolate (I guess it’s a project). But nothing makes sense except that my vacation is approved.
My face is trying to stay serious.
Have a good day my Lord.
I excuse myself directly to an infinite freedom. Vacation is starting right now if you ask me. I just have to solve like 90% of the country’s marketing enigmas and I’m off.
There is this one more awkward moment, just two days before the trip when the director assigns a huge project to me… I can see that he totaly forgot about my vacation. Nooooo! We’ll have to go through it again.
Yes, but, but, we talked about it… you see… remember… it was raining… I was wearing a cashmere blouse.
Oh yes. Shit! Shit, shit, shit.
Fuck. And you have to go or is it like… changeable?
Well… I bought the tickets already… and its day after tomorrow.
So you cannot, like, move your trip or something.
Yes I can. For a zillion dollars. Thought to myself.
I just made a polite NO face.
Fuck. Ok, then if she’s not here we should…
I guess this is it. Nothing can go wrong now. In two days I will be up in the clouds affected by a mild turbulence. I work hard as hell for the next two days. I’m as productive as China. I smile to everyone, I don’t mind the late hours, I buy food for everyone.
It’s Friday. I’m arranging my projects and files so everyone can easily change them when I’m gone. I’m hugging everyone, I act all modest… like, no biggie… it’s just a vacation.
But we all know it’s freedom… the power or right to act, speak, think or swim as one wants. The state of being unrestricted and able to move easily. For the entire two weeks.
The power to look at life from a different perspective… to see how life would look like if we didn’t have to work. This is really an interesting perspective for me. If I was a student in social science, this would be my master project.
Later through transition, we embraced new work policies. We installed new software and soon didn’t have to do FTFVR anymore. Everything was digitized. Thank God.
I open a software. Find calendar. Choose the dates when I want to use some of my 4 week year vacation. I insert some basic information… name, position, phone number (so they can call me to come back?), who I recommend to do my job while I’m gone.
Everything is an open book. You can see yellow dates of all the other people (asked vacation dates) and green dates (approved vacation dates). Try to avoid holidays because everyone wants that. November is like dead. No colored fields at all. You are looking at other people’s requests. Damn. This guy took a vacation 10 months upfront. Bastard. This new system really needs you to think way up ahead.
The best thing is it’s all done in the most non personalized way. You type the dates, Silicon Valley processes the request, the superior analyzes it and finally approves it and your dates becomes green.
But, there are some times… when reply answer is late. You’re not getting it. Each morning you are checking your e mail waiting for the robot to congratulate you. Still nothing. After few days you start to wonder… Is this a test? Am I being watched? Will my creative results somehow influence the decision about my travel plans? Or the Balkan Economy? I hope they are just swamped with work and my vacation issue is not on their important list. Please be that.
Finally, I get a generic mail saying Marija, your vacation is approved. Have a nice trip. Smiley face.
Later on, when I see my supervisor all super-nervous and bossy, I look at him as if to say: You can act all tough and demanding but I know the real truth. You just approved my vacation, you’re a good sweet soul. A warmhearted human, a great humanitarian stuck in a high managing position. And finally a true, true friend.
Kisses to you all.