Recession sure ruins vacation

   I am writing this in pain. Iím bent over my word processor, clutching my stomach, bemoaning the day I decided I deserved that four-day vacation to Mexico.
   Ignoring all signals, I headed south last week, had a relaxing and glorious time, and now Iím back, hooked on Rolaids.
   Montezumaís Revenge? Tourista? Indigestion? Some people might call it that. I prefer Revenge of the Recession.
   I had made the plans some time ago, before it was clear The Recession (I capitalize to show respect) had the staying power to plague my business through the winter.
   For the last couple of months I have been emphatically stressing to all management the need to cut costs, to find ways to help us get through the deep, dark, long winter days that were looming ahead and as my departure date drew near (as in the next day), I still hadnít told anyone I was heading for Mexico.
   I thought about canceling but, darn the luck, the tickets were non-refundable. So I had no choice Ė I had to tell everyone I would be gone for most of the week. Someone would surely have noticed.
   But tell them I was going on vacation, just as we were about to enter a very difficult economic period? What kind of a leader am I?
   The solution, of course, was to lie, saying I was off on a business trip. And I might have, except that I have a strong fear of flying, and I feel itís wise not to lie about where Iím going moments before I step onto a plane.
   So I reluctantly told the truth. I met with Ralph, my general manager, and Ms. Ferguson, my loyal office manager, and spilled everything.
   "Iím a little uncomfortable about taking a vacation right now," I said after revealing my destination, "but itís just a cheap junket, only for four days, and I paid for it a while ago so I canít cancel."
   They showed no signs of resentment, only nodding with understanding as I explained that Mexico was nothing like the French Riviera. Iím not insensitive enough to go anywhere exotic in these difficult times, I told them.
   After I finished, Ralph was the first to speak. There was an employee meeting the next morning (while I would be jetting off to Mexico) and he had a question.
   "Whatís up?" I asked, enjoying a mental image of diving into the Pacific surf now that I had received their blessings. My vacation had begun.
   "Some of the employees were asking me if we were going to have a Christmas party this year."
   I dried off quickly, my vacation over. Ralph had me nailed, no escape.
   I had thought about either canceling the Christmas party or scaling it back to a potluck, or worse yet, maybe pizza and beer, in deference to the economy. Under normal circumstances, we would go to a nice restaurant, and I would pay for all meals and drinks. The cost? Letís see. Yep, about the same as my Mexican vacation.
   "Of course weíll have a party," I said, realizing I might as well have gone to the French Riviera for what this would cost. "Same as last year. Maybe even better."
   "Good," Ralph said, getting up to leave. "The employees really appreciate it."
   "Morale is so important," I replied, knowing mine was dipping fast.
   I recovered, though, and quietly left the next morning. Once on the beach in Mexico, I forgot about The Recession, the long winter ahead and guilt. Instead, I remembered why I needed a vacation Ė to get away from The Recession, the long winter ahead and guilt.
   When I returned, rested and relaxed, I was eager to get back to work. Thatís when the Revenge of The Recession unleashed its fury.
    No way was I calling in sick. I struggled out of bed, shaved twice in a mildly successful attempt to shave off my tan, and headed for the office.
   "Did you have a good vacation?" asked Ms. Ferguson, looking warily at my haggard face and crumpled body as I walked through the door.
   "The Recession is punishing me for my extravagance," I said weakly. "Let all the employees know I am suffering for them as well."
   "Too late," she said. "I already made reservations and announced the Christmas party while you were gone."
   Neighbors said they heard my moaning.



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