Running out of days in 2001-- 10/26/01

Yes, of course, you will say, we are almost at the end of October, just two months left in the year, only eight weeks and a few days to get Christmas shopping done, etc...

And all of that is true, but that normal rapid flow of time is not what I'm talking about... my concern is that I am running out of potential days to take off from work.

Here's my problem: there are sixty-six days left in 2001 -- but ten of them are Saturdays and ten of them are Sundays, leaving only forty-six Monday thru Friday weekdays. My employer provides twelve holidays, some of which are fixed dates and some of which are personal floater holidays. At this point I have used four of them (New Years Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day), leaving me eight for the remainder of the year. Two of them are scheduled for November 22nd and 23rd (Thanksgiving Day and the following day) and two of them are scheduled for December 24th and 25th for Christmas. I am planning on using the remaining four personal holidays to take off the other three days of Christmas week and the following Monday (December 31st).

Well, that sounds like a nice arrangement -- a four day weekend for Thanksgiving and then eleven straight days off at Christmas time (including January 1, 2002). The trouble is, I still have seven vacation days I've not taken... and it's a use-or-lose situation, I can't carry them over be used in 2002... so somehow I also need to take off those seven days. Hmmm, forty-six days minus eight holidays leaves thirty-eight days to choose among. No, not quite. I am teaching a five day class next week, so I can't take vacation days then. I need the following week to prepare material for a class I'm teaching the week after that in Pittsburgh... and then it's Thanksgiving week.

Okay, so maybe I could use three vacation days for Monday thru Wednesday of Thanksgiving week, so I would have that entire week off. But what about the remaining four days? Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas... but I am already taking a third of the month off at Christmas... and I most likely will be teaching one week in December (perhaps in the U.S. but maybe in France) and I could possibly end up teaching two weeks out of that month. Well, if that happens, then I have no problem making a decision, I just take off any four of the remaining days...

It's not that I get too many vacation days, it's just that I've been too busy to take time off.

Europeans are always amazed at how many days Americans put in on the job -- they get two or three times as much vacation as the typical American worker -- we even exceed Japan in average hours of work per year. Here I am with three weeks of vacation and I've only managed to take half of it so far...I'm going to have to work on that.... This year was a bit different because I was tied up in a project in June and July and then had three weeks of classes to teach in August (and during that week I wasn't teaching I was too busy to take any time off -- in fact, I probably worked extra days at home or in the office half a dozen times on Saturdays or Sundays during the summer) so the only time I took off was around Adam and Leah's wedding. I will have to schedule time in advance in 2002. I suppose I should try to schedule days off during Nancy's school vacations. (I tried to do that this year, but when she had a week off for spring break in April, I was down in North Carolina on business.)

One of the reasons I have so many vacation days left is that (outside of times I am teaching) I have a very flexible schedule and I can do things like work at home sometimes. For example, my daughter's car needed some work done so today I worked at home so she could use my car for her commute to school. (That works out very nicely... I can work undisturbed at home, save an hour a day of commuting time... although I sometimes end up putting in more hours when working at home.) Also, of course, if a little kid is too sick to go to school, a parent has to take a day off to stay at home... but you can leave teenagers at home by themselves.

I suppose I should make a New Years Resolution to be sure to schedule all of my vacation time during 2002 so I don't end up having to squeeze it in at the end of the year. That would be good practice for 2003, 'cause starting in 2003 I'm eligible for another week of vacation time... yeah, I'll have four weeks to schedule instead of just three.

How do Europeans manage to schedule six weeks of vacation plus all of their holidays (I understand that in France and Germany they may have fifteen to eighteen days off for holidays) and still manage to get things done?

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