A CROSS THE REGION where I live, the first months of the year are a big deal for outdoors enthusiasts. In addition to ongoing hunting seasons and some incredible fishing, the first quarter also features the nation’s largest under-one-roof boat show and the equally impressive Houston Safari Club Expo.
Truth be told, probably thousands of hours of productivity are lost during the first three or four months of each New Year across southeast Texas. Whether the professional absences are excused, depends in great part on place of employment.
In Texas, that translates to whether the boss has any taxidermy in that corner office.
In my profession, it’s easy to holler “work” when I’m on the way out the door carrying a rod or a gun. For most people, however, hunting, fishing and golf can’t be validated as “on duty” activities.
Here are some tips on doing what you want to do, what we all would rather do than work—and keeping your job. (Disclaimer: None of these ideas was given thought much past the concept stage, none of them has been tested, and it’s unlikely that any but the most understanding boss would fall for more than one of them per year. And, finally, I never used any of them to cover an outdoor trip.)
First, no matter how young and healthy you are and feel, avoid using sick days to cover your adventures. Once you’ve burned those, you’ll have to drag yourself into the office even when you should, for legitimate health reasons—such as not infecting the entire staff—stay home.
By using vacation days, personal days and community service days, if your employer offers such a thing, you hold those sick days in reserve for the fall openings of deer and waterfowl seasons.
I have a friend who hangs onto as many designated “off” opportunities as possible and negotiates to work on paid holidays—all those Mondays the nation takes off to celebrate important dead people.
He’ll work, he tells his superiors, in exchange for specific days off down the road. Usually, he swaps Mondays for Fridays so he can get a head start on well-timed long weekends in the outdoors.
He’s in a particular segment of retail where being in his store on national-holiday Mondays is almost like having the day off. Almost nobody buys what he sells on holidays, but the doors have to be open.
I knew another guy years ago who deliberately owned an older-model car, meticulously maintained, and blamed some of his “unforeseen” absences on breakdowns. This particular must be used carefully and on alternating days. Nobody’s car has dead batteries or busted water pumps only on Fridays.
In this sidebar, I’m not suggesting that anyone…
Shame on you for claiming a family member died, but here’s how to pull it off. Set up a couple of weeks in advance—sick and getting sicker; one weekend to go see; false alarm; another, a little later, for the funeral. This only works if nobody at work knows your family.
Email Doug Pike at [email protected]