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Sunday, May 11, 2014
Personal Reflections ... Society ...

A few days ago, I tried to get on a web site for a local utility company, to get a copy of a recent bill. I had entered the usual ID and password, but this time the site also wanted me to answer a security question. Problem was, I had not selected the question that I was being asked to answer. I tried logging in again just to make sure I got my credentials correct, but the same question popped up. I finally pushed the button saying that I had forgotten the answer (really, I never knew it in the first place!). And after some back and forth, I got my credentials reset and I successfully logged on, with a new security question and answer.

One reason that I knew that the unrecognized security question was not mine was that it dealt with vacations. “What is your favorite vacation spot?” I would never have selected that question, because . . . well, I don’t have a favorite vacation spot. Actually, I don’t have any vacation spots at all. I basically don’t take vacations; I use up my vacation time at work by sprinkling days off throughout the year. But as to taking 2 continuous weeks off and getting on a plane or driving all day to get to some wondrous spot . . . no, I just don’t do that. I’m just not a vacation person.

Why not? Well, partly because I’m trying to save up as much as possible to get ready for retirement. A good vacation trip might cost a few grand (or so says my brother, who enjoys his occasional week on a Caribbean island). That in itself might mean an extra month or two that I would need to keep working, as opposed to retiring a month or two earlier.

Am I alone in my aversion to what was once an accepted part of the middle-class American dream (and still seems that way to the internet security question designers)? The NY Times had an article saying that “the American vacation is dying”, mostly because of job anxiety, i.e. fear of getting fired. A CNN article said that a recent poll found that “only 57% of U.S. workers use up all of the days they’re entitled to, compared with 89% of workers in France”. A blogger named Ann Althouse said

Your living quarters are reasonably comfortable, your job is somewhat enjoyable, and you like your town and at least some of your friends and acquaintances. Why go to the trouble of going somewhere else, where every day is going to cost you lots of extra money, and where you have no guarantee you’ll be one bit happier than you are at home?

One of her responders added

I get a lot more out of five weeks worth of one-day “vacations” than I do out of a full week off. Taking the full week seems to require a trip somewhere, or it simply ends up being a mass of empty do-nothing days . . .

Another said

The extreme unpleasantness (especially for America’s increasing population of people of size) of air travel these days puts something of a damper on travel.

Is driving any better? Those interstate highways have become demo death-derbies against endless hordes of speeding long-distance multi-trailer trucks. Vacation definitely ain’t the Sunday joy ride that it once was.

In addition to my own financial reasons, I don’t like idea that I would come back to a desk stacked with messages and e-mails and voicemails that needed tending to ASAP. The first day back from a vacation trip would be a real bummer. A vacation experience would have to be really, really good to make up for the down-draft of getting back to the office and facing two weeks worth of typical mini-crises all at once. And from what I hear and remember from my own past vacation experiences, most vacations aren’t all that good!

So I’ll use my days off (but not all of them; in my 13 years with the County, I’ve never used all of my yearly vacation allocation). But don’t ask me where my favorite vacation spot is . . . unless you allow me to say “HOME”!

(And yes, I am not the first blogger to twist the title to the old song by the GoGo’s. In 2010, a single mom named Jenn wrote an article with that title, about what hassle her recent beach vacation with her two kids was. However, it was OK in the end because her kids “glowed” when talking about it after they got back. In the end, she did have reason to want the vacation, difficult as it was. Nice story ending, but as for me . . . I’ll still stay home!).

◊   posted by Jim G @ 7:36 pm      
 
 


  1. Jim, Well, you’re not alone in this world. At least there’s company of one – me – who has not taken a vacation ever. Well, I should not say ever!

    There was one time, back in the late 1970s, I think, when I told my husband that if he and I did not take a weekend vacation (Friday late thru Sunday late), I would not be around come Monday. So we went on a vacation – or do they call them “staycations” these days; one of those where we drove a couple hundred miles, stayed in a motel, and spent $500, which in the 1970s was exceedingly too much for our pocketbook at the time.

    The “vacation” consisted first, of my husband refusing (I don’t remember how many rooms) in the place I had made reservations to stay; none suited him. Finally, he decided one was going to have to do or we would not sleep that night. Second, it was very early in the season, few people were around, which on first tho’t might be a good thing. However, my husband was a “people person” and needed a lot of people around to talk to; thus, he was not happy as the visitors to the place were sparse.

    Third, we spent ridiculous amounts of money going on tours where someone would say, “See that rock? It looks like (fill in the blank)”; this went on over and over, until I began to think they had to be kidding, scamming us (which was more likely), or laughing their heads off at us for spending the money on this tour (which was likely too).

    We managed to get thru the 2 days and get home, only to find that, while we were gone, all hell had broken loose at home with the adults who had remained behind. (I know you’d prefer not to hear the details, so I’ll leave them out.)

    I decided then that I’d have to find some other way to get my vacations. I always managed to do something at some time that I actually wanted to do that required no “going away”, spend some money on something I truly wanted, while my husband did the same. And both of us were happy.

    I have known people who simply *love* vacations, the inconvenience of travel, the disagreements among people of where they should go, what they should take in for entertainment, how the money should be spent, etc. Somehow they find being cramped in a car for hours to arrive at, for instance, a camp site is wonderful. They find the sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag (with the accompanying inconveniences) just great. My considered opinion on this one is that these people really want to escape, run away as fast as they can, from life and spend a few days pretending that their work-a-day life does not exist for those few vacation days. (Maybe I’m wrong, but I find myself wondering just *how* wrong I might be.) So, it’s a way for them to “run away”. Why ruin their fun? I say let them enjoy their flee from life for a while if it pleases them.

    The other group who likely truly enjoys vacations are those who have unlimited money to spend – the people who have too much money anyway and really don’t know how to spend it, say other than spending $500,000 on a few days on an island where there’s someone at their beck and call all the time. So, here I’m talking about the 1%.

    Yes, some people sacrifice and save up for years with the goal in mind to take a cruise (or some other kind of special vacation that attracts them) – and many of them enjoy it grandly. (There are others who’ve been in the paper recently who’ve had different experiences.) Some people like getting away from everyday life, if even for a couple of days and find spending the money well worth it. Others are the type who would rather find some other way to spend their money. I’ve found, “to each his/her own”.

    I once was *shocked* beyond ability to speak when a woman I knew at work mentioned she had spent $50 that week on cosmetics, thinking all sorts of tho’ts that were not complimentary of her. Then a few seconds later I realized I myself had spent the exact same amount of money that same week on books. I came to realize it turns out to be a “whatever floats your boat” kind of thing. If it makes one happy, do it; if something else makes one happy, do that. And let it go at that. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — May 12, 2014 @ 10:41 am

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