Dr. Strangecation (or how I stopped worrying and learned how to love the PTO)

It’s not often that I take an extended period of time off.  But seeing almost 300 hours of PTO banked on my last paycheck was a wake-up call to get away and detoxify myself from my professional responsibilities.  We can not uphold our commitments to our customers without first caring for our personal fulfillment.  Families, friends, mental and physical exercise, those quiet spaces in between everything else; those are all critical components of keeping us sane enough to cope with the mental (and sometimes physical) exertion we in Information Technology must expend in order to meet the requirements of our positions.  I realize now that I forgot about that though.  Work became life.  This is a risk of telecommuting.  I’ve often found myself extolling the benefits of remote working and stressing that there are also risks inherent in doing so – this being one. 

I learned a few things on my week away.  None of them having to do with SQL Server, databases, technology, or anything else I normally focus my attention on.  I forgot there is an entire other world out there:

  • I’ve learned that if you want fast food in South Dakota you better get it within the city limits of Rapid City or Sioux Falls.
  • I’ve learned that a civilized people will build a monument to anything from corn to mythical jackrabbit/antelope hybrids.
  • I’ve learned that bison and tofu are both alternatives to beef.  However, tofu has never been described as “gamey”.
  • I’ve learned that you never, ever, drive through Chicago unless you absolutely have to.  Oprah has one helluva entourage and they all have cars.
  • I’ve learned that there is a store in Wall, SD that will sell anything – an there is at least one purple stretch pant clad grandma who is there to buy it.
  • I’ve learned that Hollywood depictions of Minnesota and Wisconsin are way off the mark; those states are not that glamorous.
  • I’ve learned that every exit along Interstate 90 in Wisconsin will provide you with a cheese shop.
  • I’ve learned that all those newspapers no one reads are being used as toilet paper in hotels servicing the states of South Dakota, and Iowa.
  • I’ve learned that despite all those things you will have fun by simply experiencing the unfamiliar with those you love.

So, as the summer rapidly winds down I wanted to take a moment to remind you that there is still time to take a few days off; step away from the keyboard, back off the mouse, flee from the flourescents and go outdoors.  Just be sure to carry your own toilet paper and a well-stocked cooler.

Your family and your customers will thank you.