|November 29, 2000
I gave Franz my Christmas vacation request first thing this morning, for his signature and royal blessing and stuff. I said, "Hiya, Franz! Here's my Christmas vacation request for your signature and royal blessing and stuff, OK?"
And then I ran like hell.
(OK, I didn't really say that. I said, "Can I get your signature on this, please?" But I DID immediately make myself invisible after I handed the vacation request, so he could look it over privately without me standing there looking cute and anxious and ready to spit on something -- or somebody -- if he refused to sign.)
This was a task I'd been dodging. Not because I thought he was going to turn me down: I knew he wouldn't. Not because I thought I was going to have to justify wanting to go home to TicTac to spend the holidays with my children: I would never stoop that low, frankly. And not because I've been so wrapped up in family stuff and money stuff and website stuff, the past couple of weeks, that I totally forgot about submitting my request ... although that's certainly a part of it.
No. MAINLY I hadn't turned in my vacation request yet because, for a while, at least, it didn't look like I was even going to BE at the Totem Pole Company at Christmas.
'When I started making my holiday flight arrangements, a few weeks ago, I was 99.9% sure that the plastic koala bear plate and I would have found ourselves miraculously relocated to newer, groovier professional digs, come the holidays. I figured, Why go through all the headache and rigarmarole of clearing my vacation request through Franz, if I'm just going to have to turn around and do it all over again with a new boss? So I kept letting it slide.
But it's like John Lennon said: Leaves are what happen when you're busy making other plants.
So here it was, just slightly more than three weeks before I'm due to board that MD80 for TicTac ... I'm now committed to hanging in at the Totem Pole Company a little while longer, thanks to a token raise and a couple of fried bananas ... and I still hadn't routed my vacation request through proper TPC channels. Out of deference to whoever is drafted to fill in for me while I'm gone -- giving her plenty of time to start on the St. John's Wort, for one thing -- I knew it was time to start the procedural wheels turning. So I scribbled out my vacation request first thing this morning, and -- resisting the urge to bury it in the other 43,897,621 metric tons of paperwork currently residing in Franz' "In" basket, where it would be safely ignored until next Easter -- I marched boldly into his office and handed it to him.
And then I made myself *invisible* for a few minutes.
(Actually, I went and dinked around in the MIS Department for a few minutes, talking the merits of Paint Shop Pro versus Photoshop with the computer people. I knew that was one place Franz would never look for me.)
After what I felt was a discreet and reasonable amount of time, I reappeared in his doorway, wearing my very best *Earnest-Yet-Approachable* face. Franz was sitting at his desk, still bulldozing papers around his desktop. My vacation request was on the top of the pile, but without my glasses I couldn't tell whether he'd signed it yet or not.
"Do we need to discuss my holiday time-off?" I asked pleasantly. (say no say no say no say no say no say no)
"Actually," he ominously replied, "we DO need to talk about it."
(This was going to be Y2K all over again, wasn't it? With me *paying* for those extra two days of Christmas vacation last year by coming into the office all by myself over New Year's?)
WHY did I think this was going to be easy?
I started talking really really fast. "I know the office is going to be open the day after Christmas," I explained, "but I really don't want to try and fly back Christmas night ... and I'm worried about air traffic the day after Christmas, so I've booked an extra-early flight on the 26th, and that way if something goes wrong I've got the whole rest of the day to get back to California ... and I figured that if I come back on Wednesday or Thursday that week, that will give us plenty of time to get you ready for your Washington D.C. trip the first week of the year, even if I have to come in on January ... "
But he cut me off in mid-rant.
"No no no NO," he said. "That's not what I meant." And he picked up my vacation request and handed it to me. Up close, I could see that he had signed off on it, after all. My vacation starts on December 22nd, as requested. But he'd crossed out my original return date -- December 27th -- and scribbled "January 2" in its place.
"You're trying to come back too soon," he said. "You need to spend a little more time with your family." And he beamed at me ... looking for all the world like a magnanimous genie, granting Aladdin an unsolicited bonus wish.
Or -- even more unbelievably -- like a boss who actually LIKES his SecraTerri.