GateHouse — What did you do with your twelve weeks of vacation last year?
Me? Aw, thanks for asking. Goodness, what didn’t I do — I hiked around the northern coast of the Mediterranean for a few weeks, you know, backpacking, kind of ambling around and thinking about stuff. Re-read the “Harry Potter” books, of course. Did a quick month with the Peace Corps in Honduras, I like to try to sneak one of those in every year if I can. Finished painting the boy’s room, re-sodded the yard. Got about 200 pages in on my novel. Taught my kid to ride a bike, skateboard and paddle-surf, and tried to notch a good eight, eight-and-a-half hours of sleep a night. Oh, watched the first season of “Heroes” on DVD. Did I mention my art show? Had an art show. Good turnout.
This is, of course, one of the grandest benefits of living in America: the vast and generous swath of vacation time afforded to each and every one of us, regardless of job, age, gender, race or title: Everyone gets a solid and inarguable three months off per year, to recharge the old batteries, see the family, pursue some soul-cleansing leisure activities, travel a bit, do all those little things that make living life a daily joy. Yep, everyone, from your local firefighter to those kids on their third tours of Iraq to the president of the United States, who, in just a short week and a half or so, will break the all-time record for The Most Well-Rested President In The History Of The United States, being just a dozen or so (depending on when this column runs in Your Local Paper) days short of the record of 436, set by the equally tuckered-out President Reagan. It’s just days away, people! And you thought the Barry Bonds home run chase was thrilling and dramatic and not at all soul-crushing.
That’s right, Bush, just like your local principal, dentist, mine worker and barista, has bravely notched right around 422 days of vacation in his 6 1/2 years as president, which works out to about 64 days or 12 weeks per year. I have to hand it to him, when he said he was just the people’s president, just a drinkin’ buddy to folks like you and me, he kept to his word, right down to the three months we all get off of every single blooming year. So I think I speak for all of us when I say: You keep plugging along there, little fella, we’re all pulling for you. Well, I probably don’t speak for all of us. I imagine some of us are on the clock right now.
Bush’s most famous vacation was the one he took while Katrina was sinking underwater, in 2005, when he stretched his August siesta out to a full five weeks of Crawford brush-clearing and horse-brushing. But those were during extremely hard times, people; his most current one to Kennebunkport and Crawford — his 65th trip to the latter during his reign — comes during a time of unprecedented national unity, widespread peace and a general sense that everything is pretty much jake. (Lest you think I’m piling on, it’s not just Bush. Thankfully, most of Congress is off on vacation, too, as is the Iraqi parliament, all of whom have earned a well-deserved bit of downtime for a job well done. Cheney, of course, is technically off but remains operational.)
Oh sure, 64 days a year may not sound like enough, but think of how much worse we’d be if we lived in some other stupid freedom-hating country like France, which only lets its workers take 37 days off per year. Or Italy, which gives its workers 43, plus red wine and the opportunity to spend every last one eating foods that have been soaked in olive oil. Germany only lets its workers have 35, the Japanese 25 and Canada 26. Twenty-six! I bet they have to spend most of those absorbing their crappy universal health care, too.
But don’t take it from me, take it from the Wall Street Murdoch, which reports with certain irony that “The leisurely summer vacation – long considered a chance for employees to break away from work for at least a full week, if not two – has fallen out of favor.” If the WSM could take a moment out of emboldening the terrorists, they might realize that five weeks is way longer than two weeks, and to stop whining so much. Let us all follow the lead of President Sleepy; as soon as you’re done reading this column, call up your boss and tell him or her, “Hustle up, Pinhead, I’m clocking out now, I’ll see you in early October!” and then cackle maniacally. He or she will think it’s really hilarious. Trust me.