Thursday, May 24, 2012

Vacation Dilemma

Ever notice how worthless you become at work the last few days before vacation? Even though there's lots to do to prepare for being gone for 11 days, I'm finding it difficult to summon the necessary enthusiasm needed. Every item on my "to-do" list becomes an occasion for a raging debate inside my head that goes something like this..."Is it really critical that I take care of this now? I mean, will the world cease spinning on it's axis if I wait until I get back to do this?"

I could either be setting up annual review appointments with clients for the week I return, OR, I could be on the interwebs checking out where I'm going to be playing golf next Wednesday. Talk about your tough decisions, devising a strategy for dealing with a Greek exit from the Euro, or deciding which shows to see..Le Grand Cirque, the Legends Concert, or The Blue Man Group? I could either finish up this life insurance paperwork on my desk, or work out the details of which type of meat I'll grill for dinner the first night. Everyone knows how absolutely crucial it is to set the proper tone for a fun and frolicking vacation by nailing the first night's dinner. Seriously, is it even possible to over think dinner number one? I think not!

Since I'm in the trusted Financial Advisor business, every year at vacation time the most difficult decision is this...what kind of message to leave on my answering machine. For one thing, there are very specific rules for phone messages in my line of work. You can't just say any old thing. For example, you must always remind clients that they cannot leave trade instructions on the machine since they cannot be honored in that fashion etc, etc.. You also can't do any advertising in your message. You can't say something like..."Thanks for calling, and remember to ask me about the hot new Detroit Municipal Bonds paying a very high octane 18%"...or ..."Thanks for calling, and remember, only uncivilized people buy gold." But what about the all important message that informs clients that you will not be in the office until Wednesday the 6th of June? What happens if news breaks that Mitt Romney is dropping out of the Presidential race to pursue a relationship with Ralph Nadar, the love of his life? The stock market is down 500 points on the blockbuster news and my panicked clients call and hear....what, exactly?? " Hello, today is Saturday, May the 26th and I will be in Myrtle Beach with the wife and kids until Wednesday morning the 6th of June. In addition, I will NOT be checking this phone for any messages since the primary purpose of being on vacation is to get as far away from my office as possible. Matter of fact, as we speak, I'm most likely doing some body surfing or hitting the golf ball, and you guys are the furthest thing from my mind, so leave me a message and I will call you back when I get back in town, and not one minute sooner."

No, that message won't work. But, the thing is, I really want to be away when I'm away. My life is forever tethered to the global stock markets in all of their insane volatility. My vacation weeks are not immune from some catastrophic event that might cause them to gyrate in frightening ways. I remember one week when I was in Maine and couldn't have made a call to Richmond even if I had wanted to. The markets were down big every single day of my vacation, or so I was informed by the intrepid newspaper of record in those parts, the Rumford Falls Times. When I got back in town, I dreaded the deluge of phone messages I was sure were waiting for me.  There was only one, a client had called to inform me that I had left my pen on her kitchen table. Sweetheart was going to put it in the mail. It was laying there with my other mail. It was then that I decided that I wasn't going to spend any more vacation time worrying about stuff I had no control over anyway. I will leave a tidy message, optimistic and energetic, but reminding the world that I will not be checking the machine every 5 minutes. I'll be on vacation. It's about can look it up.