Friday, August 17, 2012

The French Bulldog Days of Summer

It’s the dog days of summer, but no, I’ve not been on vacation, just too busy with my day job and weekend commitments to post anything recently. I keep wondering though; I’m of French heritage, so why don’t I get the entire month of August off from work like all my French compatriots?  They don’t break a sweat all month. This year my August vacation was the first Sunday of the month – from 2:00 to 5:00 PM.  At least it sometimes feels that way.

Actually, the whole issue of vacations is a running topic in our household. I’ve always worked for consulting firms throughout my career – sometimes small ones.  Consulting firms of most any size are not particularly known for a providing a generous array of earned vacation time. My friend Gerry worked as an engineer for the super-paternalistic firm of Anheuser-Busch (before it was acquired by InBev). I recall him telling me once that he had reached his 5 year anniversary with the company and now was entitled to 5 weeks vacation (plus about 16 or more holidays per year). I was working for a 100 person consulting firm at the time and responded, “Gerry, I could rise to the position of President in our firm and I wouldn’t get five weeks vacation after 30 years!”

One of my current clients is a branded boutique in the food industry. Think Ben & Jerry’s and you’d be in the right ballpark. I’m working with the company’s sustainability staff on some management system improvements and the point-of-contact for the project I’m working on is a very nice, bright 20-something. Progress has slowed a bit on the project since she is off on her paid sabbatical this month. Sabbatical. Wow. I’ve been in the workforce 35 years and never come close to that perk.

And don’t even get me started on Federal worker vacation/holiday/sick time benefits. My head hurts just thinking about it in this election year and with the Federal budget mess.

Being a scientist and therefore fond of logic, I can only conclude that I’m a pretty dumb yardbird for staying in the consulting track all these years. Not the brightest Bunsen burner on the bench or shiniest Erlenmeyer flask on the shelf. Why didn’t my French relatives warn me about this while I was still at a tender young age? Maybe they did and I just couldn’t understand them. I took Russian in HS and college. Foolish me. Это жизнь в большом городе.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

If it has a union, they will get guaranteed vacation, and the management over them will be irritated if they don't get the same.

Gringo said...

I don't know if I have yet linked to this in my comments on your website, so here goes. Learning to Love the French.

Based on my experience I prefer the Cajun and New England versions to the French of France versions. The New World improves things.

Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

Learn to Love the French? That might be a tall order! Nice article in the link though. I was born in New Bedford but my family moved to the Mid Atlantic when I was two and left most of the French Canadian culture behind.