I took a full week off from work and, thanks to Memorial Day, got a bonus Monday too. It’s the longest time I’ve taken off from work since December. I’ve taken a day or two of vacation time in between but, mostly, I’ve been working straight through. It’s hard to explain why that is. I’m an hourly employee which means I’m only supposed to work forty hours a week—that’s all I’ll get paid for, and anything over that is overtime which has to be approved by my boss in advance. In spite of having worked my way up through the ranks for nearly thirty years I’ve never reached the level of being salaried—which I’m okay with. I’ve seen too many cases where “salaried” means working sixty, seventy, or even eighty hours a week, and while the pay for those positions may be a little higher I don’t think any of them are worth double overtime.
At the same time I get anxious about stepping away from work. Nothing’s certain anywhere—sometimes we’ll try to find the silver lining of being overburdened by saying “It’s job security” but there’s no such thing. Downsizing has happened before. It will happen again. I’ve seen incredibly qualified, hardworking people get axed because the managers, to their credit, really tried to be fair and objective and used a “last hired, first out” policy to decide where to make cuts. But I’ve also seen downsizing used to target underperformers too.
And yet I was completely relaxed the whole week. I didn’t feel a need to turn on my computer and sneak a peek at any critical emails I might be missing, or even to try and clean up spam. I knew it’d all be there when I came back, and it’s all part of the job—all part of the forty hours a week I’m paid to put in.
The one funny thing is some time late Monday night, or early Tuesday morning, I dreamed I was working. Maybe there was some lingering anxiety back there and it surfaced during REM. Most of the time thinking about work annoys me when I’m off the clock. The only work dream I should have is that I’ll be able to quit my day job, right? This time, though, I was okay with it. Almost every job has its mundane tasks that require so little thought that we can allow our minds to drift. I can take a moment to notice the hummingbird that’s come to my window feeder before I go back to whatever work-related job is in front of me. It’s okay that work and life blur together a little bit.
At least as long as I don’t get fired for saying that.