Well. One hears about furloughs incessantly, along with salary freezes and layoffs. And though it comes as absolutely no surprise, it does feel a bit different when one gets the news that it’s landed at home. I got the notice yesterday — we’re on a mandatory week-long furlough at work in mid-May and there will be no wage increase until (at least) 2011.
My reaction? I’m just glad to be one of the lucky people in this economic disaster that still has a job. For now anyway. We learn at the end of this month what the really big news is. The furlough and wage freeze are only the first course of this particular meal. The amuse bouche, really. Much more drastic measures will be decided and implemented in three weeks.
But assuming I’m still employed in May, I have ten days leading up to and including Memorial Day in which no work must take place. No email, blackberries or cell phones. This will be the free-est “vacation” I’ve ever taken, as work concerns won’t be at the back of my mind.
Of course my mind immediately turns to ways I might spend that time. I know one thing. I don’t want to fritter it away on tv and Facebook. nor do I want to spend it like I would a vacation (though it’s tempting, remembering some lovely hours spent lounging like in the picture).
I’d love to volunteer, but the options are dizzying. Brian isn’t too keen on anything overseas, and though I bristle at the notion that he’d tell me what I can and can’t do, I can’t argue with the free Southwest ticket and Holiday Inn points he’s handing me. I just need to choose a cause that’s important to me and finagle the arrangements to work with my free travel options. I wish there were a Match.com for volunteers. I’ve hit the big volunteering websites and am more lost than ever. I want to tell a search engine “here are my dates, I care about food issues (like availability of healthful food, awareness of local food options and education about nutrition) and I have to go somewhere Southwest flies” and get a nice neat list of options. Lazy, I know. But I’ve got some time.
In the meantime, I can’t help but wonder what I might do with my time if I were to lose my job. I hate that I’m old enough to say this, but if I were younger, I might try something like my friend Erin’s student is doing. Natalie is applying for an internship with STA and dreams, like me, of traveling the world. I’m all for helping fellow travel addicts, so do check out her application video and leave some comments and ratings. And let me know if you hear of a chance like this for the 30-something set!