Solving For X
I went through most of today feeling sort of gobsmacked, much like the fish that float to the surface of a lake when an efficiency-minded fisherman decides to fish with dynamite.
What caused this smacking of the gob, you ask?
Well, it was caused by the fact that I didn’t have to go to work for four whole days due to the July 4th holiday weekend and today was my first day back at work. Like most people, I loved every minute of being off. However, there is a dark side to being off from work. And that is: you have to go back to work at some point. And the longer you are off, the more of a shock to the system it is when you have to go back.
I have always heard people say things like, “Man, I loved being on vacation, but after X days I was ready to come back to work.” The variable X ranged anywhere from one week to four weeks or more. I have been unsuccessful at figuring out what that X is in my own life. In the course of my long career, I have been off anywhere from one or two days at a time to nearly three weeks on a row. In none of those instances did I ever say I was ready to go back to work. In fact, it is just the opposite. The longer I am away from work, the less ready I am to go back.
I’m pretty darn sure I was supposed to have been born into the “idle rich” class. I would love to spend my days practicing falconry, assessing polo horses, taking up yachting, playing chess with living chess boards, having tea on the east lawn, and losing large sums of money in Monte Carlo and laughing it off as being just part of the game.
What I’m NOT suited for is being awakened harshly every morning at 6 am by an obnoxious alarm clock so I can shuffle off to create ephemera for amorphous clouds of management in order to satisfy vague objectives. When I get home at the end of the day and am asked “How was work?“, my usual answer is, “I’m not sure.“, though sometimes I will answer, “There’s no way to tell.” To-do lists were created, tasks completed, and then dutifully checked off of the list. But if someone were to storm into my office and say, “Biff! Show me what you’ve been doing all day!“, I would have to gesture vaguely towards our company’s server farm and say, “I rearranged the alignment of millions of microscopic bits of magnetic particles.” More than likely, that person would say, “Good job! Keep up the good work!” and then would de-materialize in front of my eyes.
This easily explains why I’ve never been able to find the quantity of days in a row I’d have to be off from work before I’d say, “Man, I’ve really enjoyed being off from work for 75 years, but I think I’m ready to get back to work now.”