Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had three friends go on vacation. One to the other side of the world, one to the other side of the country, and one to the other side of her back porch. I don’t know if any of them were where sloths are indigenous but I do know that all of them swore off electronic communication of any kind while they were out of country, state, and office.
I also know that upon their returns, all of them swore they will never do that again. Apparently it took each of them as much as a full week to sift through email, Twitter and Instagram feeds, and Facebook posts. Email the worst.
I’m not a big vacationer. Other than a couple of longish trips over the last 45 years my vacations were mostly long weekends or 2 days jaunts. Before that my parents were responsible for recreational trips and mostly I remember being in the back seat of a large Chevrolet with no air conditioning during the two hottest weeks of the year. Probably why I now tend to vacation in the fall. Now by the time anybody realizes I am gone, I’m back home. The long trips that I did take were so long ago that snail mail was still a catchy way of denigrating the US Postal Service and my catch-up phase amounted to retrieving the mail and newspaper from the next door neighbor and dropping off some salt water taffy, moon pies, or beignet mix in exchange for being my personal drop box for a handful of bills and a flyer advertising the local department store’s weekend long one day sale. Catching up on hundreds of hundreds of emails wasn’t part of my routine. (The thousands of thousands of work generated emails accumulated over the rare day off don’t count. And they were easy to sort through anyway. Unless it came from someone who signed my paycheck or annual evaluation, they were quickly deleted.)
So the thought of having to take vacation time so I could catch up with correspondence that came in while I was off using vacation time is not something I would entertain. But it’s not something I would scoff at either. I wouldn’t entertain it because I haven’t had to entertain it. I’m not sure that I have that large of a friend base. But if you can accumulate a few hundred unanswered emails and again as many messages on this or that feed in a few days that means someone wanted you at least a few hundred times over those few days. I think that’s very cool. And pretty positive too.
For me though, I’m probably pretty safe going off grid and coming back to not much more than a full spam folder with which I’ve had lots of practice in dealing (see work emails above). I will offer my mail and newspaper pickup services to anybody planning a trip if you still get hard copy papers and mail sent with a stamp. But if you expect me to pick up your mail and papers while you’re away for a month in the Brazilian rain forest I’m going to want more than a box of chocolate mini World Cup candies. You can at least bring me a mechanical sloth.