Thursday, November 17, 2005

Dig: Taking the Day Off

So my wife is a teacher. For most of the day yesterday and a good part of last night, it snowed and blowed ("blew" doesn't rhyme) so she was rewarded with a phone call at about 5:30 this morning with her two favorite words: Snow Day. For those of you folks in Arizona or Africa or someplace who aren't typically eligible to receive a ticket in the Snow Day lottery, a Snow Day happens when the superintendant of the school system determines that the roads are too dangerous for buses to be out and about and therefore the future of our country gets the day off from learning. My wife would tell you that if you see "blowing and drifting" in the forecast, you're golden. Well, there wasn't much snow to drift, but it sure was blowing so the roads got pretty slippy, as my grandma used to say. It was really crappy driving home from work yesterday so I was pulling for her to get the day off. Mind you, she's stuck with our three brats all day but she can put them into SpongeBob-induced comas if necessary. So that brings me to something that I dig - a day off.

I've never been to prison or held hostage in a 7-11 robbery gone bad, but I am a middle-management corporate suck-ass father of three and husband of one who seems to get more work thrown at me with not enough time/people to do it. So the freedom that comes at the end of the day prior to taking the day off is the kind of freedom that I'm sure Martin Luther King was talking about. Assuming you aren't taking the day off to get a root canal or an audit from the IRS or a visit to the proctologist, you can petty much just take that big old weight that you carry around on your shoulders, hand it to the poor sap who has to be a contributing member of society while you turn into a slacker for the day and just skip on out into the sunshine. Yes, the sun always shines on the day off. You could be living in Seattle, where it rains all the frickin' time or here in Michigan where it snows half the year but the clouds will part for a brief moment allowing the sun to shine through and the angels to sing. As soon as you go into day-off mode, life is good and you are untouchable.

Again, as long as you don't have anything to do relating to gloved fingers and Vaseline (unless you're into that sort of thing), you have the whole world in front of you. Want to stay up late watching stupid shows on cable? Go for it! Booze it up so much that you do a little drunk dialing during David Letterman? Be my guest, 'cause you don't have to work tomorrow! Just don't get so drunk that you forget to turn off your alarm, because if you get up at the same time on your day off that you do on days that you go to work, you need counseling. Days off are for sleeping in. I recognize that there are people out there who enjoy getting up early. But those people clearly have issues that we simply don't have time to discuss here. Sometimes I have grand plans to get up at 6, run a quick 10 miles by 7:30, re-shingle the roof by 10, feed the poor by noon and then spend the rest of the afternoon working on my doctoral thesis. However, this doesn't usually happen and I am content to spend my day off only getting so far as to use the oven instead of the microwave to cook dinner.

Having a day off is like finding a $20 in your pocket that you thought you lost the last time you went to the casino. That's free money, baby, and a day off is free time. Time that is normally given to someone else. If you're like me, you spend most of your life at someone else's mercy. Work, kids, wife, bills, and just generally The Man. Well, The Man won't get me down on my day off! You want something out of me on John Day? Tough luck, Junior, I'm not punched in today! Don't try to call an 11:00 meeting, because that's when I'll be playing Plinko with my friends on The Price is Right in hopes of getting to the Showcase Showdown! And I hope you don't expect me to go someplace that is offended by unshaven people in sweats and old baseball caps, because I don't get all dolled up on my day off. If you need me to do some research on the Great Wall of China, you might be in luck if there is something on the National Geographic channel. If not, you're S.O.L.

Appropriately enough, one of my fave movies is Ferris Bueller's Day Off. There is a scene when Ferris, Sloane and Cameron are at the Cubs game and Ferris says to Cameron something about normally being in Phys. Ed. at that time. They both give a little laugh like they have totally gotten away with something. Certainly, they HAD gotten away with skipping out of school, but even for us yahoos who have to have our vacation time approved by HR, there is still that feeling of "everybody else is at the salt mine being good little worker bees and here I am in my favorite sweatpants scratching myself while I watch reruns of those reality show whores on Road Rules vs. Real World." The ONLY natural response to that feeling is that cheshire-cat, smug little Ferris Bueller kind of chuckle to yourself. You've been making deposits into that bank of time all your life and now it's time for a little withdrawal. Hand over my time, little Banker-Man, I'm going to piss some of it away! And don't even think about judging me for "wasting" a day off by doing nothing. This time is mine. It's bad enough that I don't get to earn interest on it, but I'll do whatever I want it with it, thank you very little.

And that's the bottom line here. My time is valuable, people, and there's a lot of crap I want to get done. One of the things that I want to do is sit on my arse. Yep, I go to work and meetings and stuff. Yep, I do the dad and husband thing. Sorry, I haven't gotten around to my Ph. D. yet. All I'm saying is cut me some slack and allow me to enjoy that feeling of sweet freedom that Tim Robbins felt at the end of Shawshank Redemption. The rest of you schlubs keep making those little hash marks in your cells/cubes. If you need me, don't call, because John Day ranks right up there with fishing out the secret decoder ring from a box of FrankenBerry cereal.

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