One of the great perks of hoarding sick leave early in my career is now having a giant stack of it available to use when I’m not feeling up to snuff. Today is one of those days – when the better part of valor was parking myself on the couch and flooding the system with medication instead of dragging myself to the office as if I thought I still had anything to prove to anyone.

Instead, after breakfast, and a few odds and ends, I sat here muttering at the dogs, facing a few hours where I’m nearly stoned into inaction. I’m not sure I could operate heavy equipment even if I wanted to. They may be on to something with that warning.

What they’re not on to, apparently, is the definition of the phrase “non-drowsy.” Hey, I like being as blitzed as the next guy, really, but damned if it wouldn’t be nice to have a option that could dry out my sinuses without sending me face down on the kitchen table. Yeah. That would be great.

It’s a scattergun approach, but that’s by design…

It’s Monday, but it’s a short three-day week and there’s at least one telework day between me and the start of the weekend on Wednesday afternoon. Summer and fall are my favorite times of year to be in Uncle’s employ. Unlike the interminable, holiday-free stretch from February to May, the holidays flow with reasonable regularity in 4-6 week intervals. They’re always something to look forward to on the horizon – a minor way-station on the long trip to 2035.

I make a point of pride out of making sure I’ve burnt off all my leave by the end of the year. I generally aim to carry precisely the maximum amount of leave across from year to year… not an hour more or an hour less. Keeping a big honking pile of leave available is a safety blanket of sorts – an insurance policy – against the idea that something catastrophic could happen at any time, but I have a cushion of paid time off owed to me to help mitigate whatever the problem might be.

Life experience has also taught me that I appreciate time off more in small doses than I do en block. With the exception of maybe a week or ten days across Christmas and New Years, I take most of my leave a day or two at a time. A four day weekend seems to hit some sort of neurological sweet spot for me – enough to feel rested, like it’s been something more than a regular weekend, but not so long that the very act of coming back to work feels torturous. Coming back after a long stretch – like the “Christmas break,” has a funny way of leaving me more annoyed and dispirited than I was before I left. For me that’s the real danger of taking too much time in one run.

So, here I am, my projected leave schedule covering the calendar like shot from a scattergun. Most aren’t random strikes, though. I try to set them to maximize preexisting holidays or to compliment the few days of the year I know I like being somewhere other than work. Throw in four or five more days held in reserve for the inevitable mornings I just can’t face eight hours in the cube farm, and it’s my own special, patent pending formula for dragging my carcass through another year while preserving some semblance of sanity.

Too soon?

After driving to the office a few weeks ago only to find that they had closed for the day without giving much of any advanced notice, I’ve opted to go ahead and ignore official guidance (whenever it comes at all) and establish my own policy for when to come and go in craptastic weather. This morning, for instance, I made a showing at the office, but pulled the plug at 1000. I cleared the parking lot and the security gate in my usual 10 minutes. Twenty minutes later, official word came down that liberal leave was in effect. Maybe twenty minutes after that, they announced that post was closing for the day. 20,000 people immediately got in their cars and jammed the gate for the next hour. By the time people who waited for “the word” got their gear and headed out, I was already home sitting in my fuzzy slippers. It’ll end up costing me 2 hours of annual leave since they didn’t formally close until noon, but I’ll trade 2 hours of leave for not spending an hour or more sitting in traffic at the gate any time.

The moral of the story is that when it comes to my health, welfare, safety, and convenience, I’m taking the decisions out of the hands of “something corporate” and making them myself from here on out. Unless or until the decision-making improves, I’ll cheerfully trade my earned leave for some semblance of sanity in how things work. I may not always make the “right” decision, but by god I’ll always make one in a timely manner. Maybe I’m just too damned old and cynical to sit around waiting for permission when forgiveness is almost always available.

So, is it too soon to start agitating for a closure tomorrow? Or authorized liberal leave? That would work too.