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
Montezumaís Revenge? Tourista?
Indigestion? Some people might call it that. I prefer Revenge of the
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
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
"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
Neighbors said they heard my moaning.