October '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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96 || P R I N T W E A R O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 Dan Danbom is a Denver writer and the author of "Humor Meets the Workforce: Make Laughter One of Your Organization's Goals." LAST LAUGH B Y D A N D A N B O M T he average American spends more time planning a vacation than planning for retirement, yet a new study shows that more than half of American workers leave vacation time un- used. People used to look forward to vacations. Now they're afraid to take them. How times have changed. I'll bet that when you were a kid, vaca- tions used to be two consecutive weeks in the summer spent with your family in a steaming station wagon, going to someplace like Oozing Sap, Iowa, to visit relatives whose idea of a good time was to make tea. When you got out on your own and began your career, vacations might have been spent with your spouse in some exotic tropical location, where you felt no hesitation ordering a rum and Coke at 9 a.m. and lying in the sun until your skin turned the color of leather. Maybe later, if you started a family, your vacations showed signs of deterioration because they consisted of taking your children to the big-deal theme parks in California or Florida, where enjoy- ment meant standing in line for nine hours a day and buying all manner of junk that didn't fit in your suitcase. But, I'm betting that vacations are different now. According to a study called "Project: Time Off," employees worry that too much work will await their return; that no one else can do their job; that they can't afford a vacation; or they simply want to show their total, insane dedication to their employer. The idea that you can't take a vacation because you can't deal with all the work that will pile up is not true for every job. For example, if you were a Postal Service employee who went on vacation, someone else would have to deliver the mail. On the other hand, if you're, say, a web designer, you know that while you are on vacation, your work is not getting done. The work is just sitting there on your desk like some malevolent fungus, growing and growing and becoming more formidable every day. Fortunately, technology now makes it easier for your vacation to be ruined. The office can reach you almost any place you go, and the places where it can't reach you are places you would never want be in anyways. You can be called or texted during your tour of the nation's largest shingle factory. You can be on a conference call while marvel- ing at the exhibits in the Museum of Dog Grooming. Even if you leave all your devices at home, there's no guarantee that you will have a vacation. No, you have to work extra hours in the weeks leading up to vacation so that things don't completely fall apart while you are gone, and you have to work extra hours after you re- turn to get caught up. Quite often, the net effect of your vacation is that you worked an extra month for the pleasure of taking two weeks off. Then there's the worry factor. Will Bob be able to run the machinery without setting fire to the plant? Will the new person in personnel be able to get the paychecks out without misplacing decimal points? Will the new guy in sales be able to close a deal with- out brandishing a machete? I can understand why Americans kissed 658 million vacation days goodbye last year. If you were lucky enough to take a vacation re- cently, you probably spent the first half of it worry- ing about what was going on at work while you were gone. You probably spent the second half worrying about what awaited you when you returned. In reali- ty, your actual "vacation" was probably approximately four hours in the middle. I hope you had fun! Vacation Takes a Break

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