Tagvacation

Vacation

I was on vacation last week. I didn’t pack a computer. My phone became a camera and GPS. I didn’t think about work and I didn’t let work get to me.

Before, I left, I set my auto-reply with one important line.

I will not be reachable by phone or email.

I wasn’t. I didn’t check email and I don’t give out my phone number. I didn’t worry about work. Work is here now that I’m back.

I had a wonderful vacation. Don’t let work join you on vacation.

Pictures of us

My wife said something last night that has stuck with me. What pictures are you going to frame and remember? The picture of scenery or one with us in it?” It was far more elegant than that. But her point remains. Take more pictures of us! And she’s right. I don’t take nearly enough pictures of us on vacation. As many photographers confess, there is rarely evidence they were on vacation at all.

There is only one photo of us from Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroo 2014

We were there for four days. We went to over 20 concerts. We sang. We danced. We laid in the grass. We ate. We drank. We slept. And it’s all in our heads. For now. There are no photos of us enjoying ourselves. There is nothing to look back on and remember the good times. There are only stupid pictures of bands and strangers. But no other ones of us. Which we took as a fluke. We almost came away having not taken a single photo of ourselves. For the entire four-day festival.

I did a little better in Canada.

But still fell short of capturing us on the trip.

Sure, I like to take pictures of where we go. But what’s going to be a better picture in a year when the memories have faded?

This?
Bonnaroo 2014

Or this?
Bonnaroo 2014

I am going to be better at capturing us doing things together. It doesn’t matter where we are, if we aren’t there. I’m not going to hang up pictures of random people and things when I could have memories and pictures of us having fun together.

We are going to California for a week. We’re going to attend a dear friend’s wedding and see the sights around San Francisco. And while we’re there, I am going to make a point to take pictures of us doing things. Living life. Having fun. Being silly.

I want to remember the trip and be able to show us living it. If you’re finding yourself lacking from the vacations you’ve taken. It’s time to change that.

Show me the money

If you bring someone in for an interview, or even have a phone interview before they know the salary range for the position you’re hiring for, there’s a good chance you’re wasting both your time and theirs. A candidate should not learn the position’s salary range for the first time in the interview. – Marco

Like Marco, this is one of my biggest pet peeves. Why should I waste my time and the employer’s time talking about a job I don’t want. Sure, I want to work. I want to find a job, that’s why I am hunting in the first place. If I find out the salary being offered is outside of my range, then we’ve both wasted time setting up this interview.

I want to work at the same level or higher than I am working. If I am employed full-time either directly or on a long-term contract I want the same stability and more money. If I didn’t, why would I be looking?

I get a little crazy when I see job postings with salaries listed as DOE or competitive. I have to ask, competitive to what? Depending on experience how so? I’ve got tons of experience but maybe not in what you’re looking for exactly. Are you competitive with my last employer? Competitive for an entry-level position? Who is the competition?

When I go job hunting I want to know I am not wasting my time. There’s no point in talking about a job that pays $10,000 under what I’m asking. There’s no point in looking at 3 or 6 or 12 month contracts. I am looking for something long-term not stepping-stones.

I am fine with a probationary period. It takes about 90 days to really feel comfortable and learn a new job. Six months are fine too, especially in a contract-to-hire situation.

I’m at the point in my career where I ask for what I want. When I show up to the interview, I have a pile of questions. I want to interview the company I’ll be spending 40+ hours of my life in every week for the next few years. I want to make sure we’re a good fit. I don’t want any surprises.

Learning The Hard Way

When I was younger, I would go into a job interview and do my best to be likable and impressive. I wanted to prove just how much I knew and how they would love me. I desperately wanted the job. And it showed.

I hadn’t done my research about the company. What did I need to know? They had a job, I was a job seeker. Seemed like a perfect match to me. I read the job description but I never looked deeper.

And that’s how I got myself into trouble.

My second job out of college was working at a Honeywell plant. I was a technician support contractor. I was hired by Unisys, to work on the Honeywell plant as a Dell technician. Honeywell was a Dell shop. All their computers were Dells. So it was part of my job to diagnose and repair the machines. I was Dell Certified and had access to order Dell parts and replace them.

It was a pretty good job. However, during the interview process the recruiter, who was not local, told me the position was in the Richmond area. This was my first mistake. I didn’t know exactly where the job was. I knew it was close, but close is a relative term. I needed a job. The contract position I was working was ending because the project was over. I needed something new to pay the bills.

So I accepted the position when it was offered to me. Then I learned the plant was 25 miles South of Richmond and would be a 45 minute drive, without traffic. I spent eight months driving 90 minutes round trip to a job that paid barely enough to cover the gas I used to get there and back.

Vacation Policy

Everyone needs time off. For the Honeywell position as well as my first few jobs out of college, I got no time off. If I was sick I worked. If I wanted to travel, I didn’t. More than once I drove through the night and arrived at work for the day without having slept at all. I did the best with what I had to work with, which wasn’t much.

As a result, I burned out of those jobs. I had perfect attendance, but I worked through being sick and wishing I was elsewhere. I couldn’t travel to see family. I couldn’t take leisurely vacations. I skipped holidays. and all the while I was miserable.

I spent my time looking for other jobs. I wanted a job that paid more money and a shorter commute. Since paid time off was not an option, I tried to compensate with money and a better commute.

It wasn’t sustainable.

Having time off is vital to a happy, healthy employee.

To quote Marco again,

Working in the environment without time off was miserable and I did it because I felt like I had to pay my dues. Each job held the appeal of maybe being offered a full-time, non-contract position. But it never did. So I would work for a few months, then leave for somewhere better.

I learned too late in life the grass is always green and if it wasn’t where I was, I needed to move. Because no one is going to look out for me, but me.

Vacation Silence

The single thing I have enjoyed most on this vacation has been the silence. As I sit here, the only sound I hear is the whirring of the ceiling fan and the light tap tapping of my fingers on the iPhone screen.

Beyond that, there is silence.

Sunset on the beach

Much of this trip has been spent sitting on the beach, listening to the waves crash and nearby children shriek with delight, reading a book.

I’ve sat with my wife side by side on the beach reading. Every. Now and again reaching for a drink in the cooler. Sometimes reaching over to grasp her hand or caress her shoulder and say *I Love You.*

As I eventually getting warm enough to put the book down and venture into the warm ocean waters, I float among the waves, listening to the sounds of the ocean. I’ve not been happier in a long time.

This was a much-needed vacation. And I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. And most of all, I’ve enjoyed the quiet.

The elusive, blissful quiet.

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