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Seriously, Washington. Take Your Vacation. Please!

Food for thought as we all return from the Independence Day recess: When we’re out of the office, are we really away from it?

According to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, “No-Vacation Nation Revisited,” the answer is “no.”

The results of the report won’t be surprising to anyone in the American workforce. The United States is the only industrialized country that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation. Our vacation time pales in comparison to other wealthy countries, etc. This isn’t new. The new wrinkle is that, even for those of us fortunate enough to have paid time off, we’re not enjoying it.

When was the last time you stopped to smell the flowers? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
When was the last time you stopped to smell the flowers? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A lot of this is due to advances in telecommunications we all “enjoy” —  smartphones, tablets and the like that keep us wired into the work conversation even when we’re in the Finger Lakes or Outer Banks. But perhaps that’s just a symptom of a larger anxiety, as spelled out by Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson.

“We worry that we might be gone for ‘too long’ — meaning that we won’t be missed and that any extended absences might somehow put our job or status at risk. Unfinished tasks haunt us; they corrupt vacations’ pleasures. Some of us can’t even let go of work and, secretly or not, mix it with recreation. Others dread returning to the job. One way or another, the job shadows us,” he writes.

Samuelson, if you’re familiar with him, is no fuzzy-headed slacker idealist. He frequently extols the virtue of hard work and questions whether our entitlement system needs re-configuring.

So consider this a Roll Call After Dark public service announcement: When you’re at work, be at work. When you’re not, you’re not. Checking your email will only make you miss Wilson Ramos’ game-winning home run.

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