Monday, March 18, 2013

Where's My Spring Break?

This is shaping up to be one of those days, weeks, years for me. Spring Break has started and all of the kids are out of school for one week. That’s right, they get to enjoy a week of no school. Even if they don’t get to do as much as they want they still don’t have the stress of getting up early and slogging their way through school for a whole week. That’s a good thing. Since it is such a good thing then I have one question. Why don’t adults get this benefit?

Think about it. Who needs the time off more? Kids who got time off in the fall AND about three whole months in the summer or adults who get time off when they can get it approved from their boss? That’s provided of course that they can afford to take time off and actually do something relaxing. What’s the point in taking time off from work only to have your wife decide that since you’re home then you’re available to get all of those chores done that she’s been saving for you? That is not a vacation, believe me I know. Often it’s equal to if not an increase in your stress level.

This phenomenon of adults getting time off actually does occur in some countries. Many European countries not only give you the paid time off but they also have paid holidays. Some even basically shut down so that everyone can take time off from work. One of my previous employers gave us Federal holidays off with pay and if it was your holiday to work you also got a paid day off during the week. I loved that about them. My present employer offers no such thing. Instead sick days, vacation days and holidays are all lumped together and you accrue a certain amount each pay period. The amount you accrue actually is very close between those two companies.

Of course it was even better when I was in the Army. You accrued thirty leave or vacation days a year. All Federal holidays you were off and if they holiday fell on a Thursday or Tuesday the weekday after or before became what is known as a training holiday. Unless of course you had a duty assignment you had to pull. Think of it, every Thanksgiving you had a four day weekend that didn’t affect your vacation time. Theoretically you weren’t supposed to go very far from your duty station so you wouldn’t have any problems reporting back to your next scheduled day of work. That theory of course didn’t stop anyone from doing so. It was a great way to save up vacation time and then cash it in when you get out of the service (like I did).

Unfortunately most of us adults in the U.S. get left out in the cold when it comes to getting break time from work. The mentality here is to work, work, work and then work some more so that you can save up to go on vacation. Unfortunately most people never actually get to take that vacation. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve taken a real vacation while I’ve been with my present employer. I’m sure I could find a bunch of studies that would show how important it is for workers to take time off and get rid of their stress by taking a break but I’m too busy to do that right now. I’ll just look forward to the vacation I will (hopefully) be taking this summer. Three weeks off and you won’t be able to reach me by phone. Sounds like heaven to me.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

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