Vacation: Is It Even Possible Anymore?

You may have had recent difficulty connecting with someone you needed to speak to, because the person was on vacation. Don’t moan. In fact, rejoice, that this person was able to take vacation and did not respond to your call or email until she or he returned. This person is to be saluted for being able to unplug.

In years past, when I had a daily morning radio show, I was able to unplug. I recall standing in line with my family to visit Washington’s home at Mount Vernon ten summers ago. The guy just ahead of us, with family in tow, spent the entire half hour on his cell phone doing business. I shook my head in dismay.

The next summer, our family returned to a favorite resort in the Smoky Mountains. It’s a laid back place: no phones or TV’s in any of the rooms. There’s a payphone in the library, which I have used exactly once in about a dozen visits. When we showed up in ’03, we were informed that the library now had wifi for those who wanted/needed internet. I’ve seen people in there checking email and the next time we go back, I’m sure I’ll drag my laptop along.

In ’06, we rented a house at Gulf Shores and invited another family to join us. “Does the house have internet?” we were asked. We were not sure; it had never been an issue before. It was a concern of the mom of the guest family. She is a chemistry prof who was shepherding students toward their doctorates and booking her own consulting gigs. Each day of our week, she spent an hour or two online before unwinding on the beach with her husband and kids. I, on the other hand, spent a lot of time reading, walking on the beach, floating in the surf and not thinking much about my radio show.

Fast forward to PR work. During the past four years, I have had an important phone conversation with a client while I was standing on the banks of Red Lake in far northern Minnesota. I lined up coverage for another client while sitting on the deck outside my dad’s home in suburban Birmingham. I routinely handle email and social media—while my wife is driving, of course—while barreling down the interstate highways.

I am a one-man shop. I am always on call. And things do happen—at night, on the weekend, during my time “off.” The phone is always on.

Ten years later, I now can appreciate the guy in line at Mount Vernon. He was doing what he had to do.



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