Saturday, October 1, 2011

An Introvert Looks at Vacation

"Seventy days until embarkation."

I misfired on my schedule this year. We twenty-plus year employees get 160 hours of vacation each year, which translates to four work weeks (almost five calender weeks, once you figure in regular days off). In addition, we work public holidays. Instead, I get about two and a half weeks of "holiday" leave, meaning I can aggregate that time into one or more blocks. I usually take a couple of weeks in early spring and a couple more in late fall. This year, for some unknown reason, I built in nearly nine months between vacations. Groan.

I know, I know. For some people (especially small business owners who get few hours to themselves) the idea that nine whole months pass between multi-week getaways must make me appear a little narcissistic. Maybe even a lot. Whining and sniveling from a public servant. Etcetera.

I understand. I could go on at some length about what it's like to work on Christmas (very quiet, until the eggnog kicks in and the family fights begin), July 4 (non-stop; lots of drinking, lots of brawls...and that's just among the cops) and Black Friday (really, in the Internet Age why the ffff....hell do people go shopping at one in the frickin' morning?). But, I get the time off when I want it and my wife is used to holiday's without me.

This year, it seems an eternity between trips. But, the vay-kay gods are smiling, and I've been saved. We've booked a cruise (our first). Wow, are there a lot of things to decide!

Outboard or inboard cabin. Porthole, balcony or Astor-style suite. Bow, stern.... You get it. Then, because the cruise lines aren't stupid, they offer drink packages instead of opening the bar. Paying top dollar for bottled water is annoying, and thirty bucks for "unlimited soda" seems an invitation to vacation-long flatulence. I totally understand why drinks aren't included. It's one thing to have a resort full of drunks, but a boat full (actually, I guess it's technically a ship) might tax the crew's ability to break up fist fights, prevent a trail of water-treading former passengers and to keep the boat clean. Formal night - to tux, or not to tux, that is the question.

Even a merely competent introvert can become bathed in a sea of possibilities and decisions, and I'm better than most. YouTube clips, cruise line primers, Cruise Critic "Seven Most Obnoxious Cruise Passenger" tips - all part of travel's charm. And there are so many cool things to buy before we even leave home. Did you know that someone makes a battlekit-style nylon passport holder, complete with a ton of velcro to attach all kinds of combat-necessary doo-dads? Got one!

Finally, airplane rides to book. I love nothing better than to walk the gangplank (I know it's called a Jetway) with my lovely wife, on our way to adventure. If you've read my book (Out of Ideas - check Amazon) main character Adam is discussing a magical flight and wishing he'd had someone with whom to share it. Well, I had that flight (mostly, because we flew cattle car class, not first class), Pat next to me, equally enamored of the view.

Who knows how the actual vacation plays out, except that it eventually ends. But, fear not. Once home - nothing to be sad about. Time to plan the next one!


  1. I felt like I was there along with you!

  2. You know, Jim, I think cops deserve every second of vacation. That is not an easy job and very dangerous no matter what beat you walk. Personally, I think Americans don't get as much vacation as we should. We do better when we have the down time. We come back refreshed and ready to start again. Or if not ready to start again, at least rested, and that helps our productivity.


  3. Patti - thank you for the fabulous compliment! Sometimes, planning and anticipating is almost as good as actually going.

    Marci - thanks for understanding. Sometimes, we public employees have a deserved reputation for being a little selfish. And, I always judge a vacation by how long it takes to remember the combination to my locker at work!