While Murphy’s Law can show up in every part of life, I seem to be very susceptible to it when it comes to vacations. A time-off day or two from work seems to draw no fire, friendly or otherwise. In fact, I manage to make it through those short and unfulfilling days unscathed. It’s only when I have the audacity to tempt the gods of fate by taking two weeks at a time that things get nasty.
Last year I decided to take a fortnight* off so I could go to Disneyland with my family and experience the Happiest Place on Earth with my grandson. My co-worker had a family emergency that led him to take a six-week Family Leave of Absence just a few days before the clan was scheduled to take off. Working remotely is nothing new to my position so I was allowed to take enough time off to drive to Anaheim (1-day journey), spend two prepaid, non-refundable days at D’land, drive back and return to work the next day. In case I’m not being clear, 14 days away from work turned into four. Hey, things happen. Oh, and did I mention I spent most of D’land night #1 doing work over a flaky motel WiFi connection?
That was my last attempt at a 2-week vacation until this month. HR sent me a friendly reminder that my Personal Time Off (PTO, in HR-speak) was about to reach the state-imposed cap of 1.5 annual accrued hours so I needed to take some time off or my accrual would stop accruing. The last 2 weeks of the year are usually dead quiet for my job. Indeed, the IT Department adheres to a software upgrade/update freeze during that time so its drones may sit back a bit and enjoy the holidays.
Now, I have nothing against HR. That department has more rules to uphold and follow than a Rolls Royce factory manual. I get that. Besides, getting close to 400 hours of accrued PTO means I’m not taking enough time off. So I put in for vacation starting Dec 18th and returning to work Jan 2nd. Perfect! Holiday time off and a chance to learn how to use a new camera. It would be the perfect time to escape the dungeon for a bit.
Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong“
To be fair, I had been forewarned by the Macbeth witches at the pharmacy. Being a hospital employee, our state requires me to get a flu shot each season. The warning I got was that a new flu strain was making its way into the population and had not been included in this season’s vaccine. Missed it by that much!
The good news is that the shot was free. Bad news is I got really sick…crawl-into-bed sick. Christmas Eve came rolling around at the end of my first week off work. So did the flu.
The rest of the week I’d cough myself to sleep at night and then wake up a couple hours later soaked in sweat. After I changed my pajamas, I coughed my self to sleep again. And then have a crazy dream about pouring rain and away we go again.
So once again, my two-week vacation ended up not quite living up to the expectation. Maybe next time will be the charm. But I’m sure not booking a cruise to test it.
* I wrote this entire article just so I could use the word “fortnight”.