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Vacations are hard work

Published: Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 11:16 a.m. CDT

Perhaps you haven’t noticed this, so let me be the first to tell you — people are crazy.

The specific crazies I am obsessing on today are the workplace wackos who don’t take vacations.

They’d like to take a vacation, but they’re way too important, and without their presence, the business would certainly fall apart. In order to keep the business running, they’re keeping their noses to the grindstone.

This could be true, I suppose. There are people who are essential. I doubt we could have reality television if Honey Boo Boo decided to spend a month wine tasting in the Loire Valley.

Fortunately, there is help available. In June of 2012, Eilene Zimmerman, a workplace columnist for The New York Times, published, “Balancing a Vacation and a Busy Office,” which addressed pressing problems, such as what to do when you’re due for a vacation, but “you have a heavy workload and are worried about falling behind.”

Now, you may think this situation doesn’t apply to you, a person who has a feather-light workload and is only worried about being found out. But you’ve got the biggest problem of all: it won’t be good for your career when the business runs even more efficiently without you to gum up the works.

So, come in super-early and let the boss find you at your desk, surrounded by paper cups of half-drunk coffee, balanced on stacks of paper and mountains of files.

“You’re in early,” the boss will say.

You smile wanly, and gasp, “Didn’t go home.”

Assure your boss that you’re on top of the mission-critical project, and you are 110 percent certain you can avoid the upcoming disaster and then get back to looking like you’re getting back to work.

When the non-disaster is finally diverted and nothing happens, your vacation request will sail right through. And you can sail off into the sunset.

Another vacation question asked and answered is “how to get the week you want when others want it, too?”

I suggest a more direct approach — lie. No one cares that you have booked a two-week tour of souvlaki stands in Spain, but no one can deny you time off to attend the funeral of your uncle in Antigua or your aunt in Aruba. Just be sure to keep track of your unfortunate relatives. Even a supervisor as dim as yours may catch on the third time your beloved grandmother in Grenada kicks it.

One vacation planning technique that you definitely want to avoid is becoming Mr. or Ms. Responsible and assigning the little work you actually do to other people. Once management sees how well your job can be done by someone else, your next vacation will likely be permanent.

I could suggest you find co-workers more incompetent than you, but a better solution is to ask your supervisor to handle your workload. Tell him your assignments are so important he is the only person who could be trusted. He’ll be flattered, and since he usually does even less than you, it will be a big relief when you come back — if you do.

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Dan and I were discussing a poll question that you might be able to put up. If you were to take a long weekend vacation trip, where would you visit?
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