July 21, 2021 • Work-Life Balance

Pandemic Summer Out of the Office Replies

A woman seen here enjoying her vacation. (Damir Spanic via Unsplash)

In approximately two weeks, I will take my first proper vacation in over two years. After over a year of pandemic, launching a book, writing another one, covering the worst caucus cycle in presidential history, losing my job, breaking my wrist, adopting two puppies, and don’t forget zoom school, I am ready to throw my whole computer in the ocean. Maybe even my entire life. I’ve planned a small trip with my kids to the sea, where we plan to eat breakfast by the pool and read books on the beach. I’ve told them the internet doesn’t work where we are going, unless they want to watch National Treasure.

The very nature of my work (freelance, writer, author), means I never get to take a break. Last time my kids and I went on vacation, Alan Dershowitz called me on my way to the pool. (It was a weird call.) This time, I’m determined to truly unplug — to live my life as if I am wealthy enough not to be online. Or at least, too tired to exist in the world of capitalism. In that spirit, I wrote some potential out of the office replies not just for me, but for everyone…

  • I am not exactly on vacation. It’s more like I am languishing in a different location. I will reply to your email when I return.
  • After 18 months of sitting in this office, while my children whine and my husband asks, once again, what is for dinner? I am taking a break to go to the lake, where my children will also whine and my husband will also ask about dinner. But at least we will be in a different location.
  • I hope this email doesn’t find you, it may never find me.
  • There is no more out of the office. We are all office now. If it’s urgent please text me.
  • I am away from my computer with limited access to email. That’s a lie. I am all email now. Just email and nothing else. My body is a screen. My brain is a constant “per my last email” loop. I’ve taken “a break” in order to keep up the facade of humanity. But I am more machine than human.
  • I have gone in search of my hot girl summer. I’ll be back to moldering by a keyboard on 08/24.
  • This pandemic has transformed me into a sack of flesh grafted to my keyboard. I have begun the slow process of separating man from machine. I’ll be back on Sunday.
  • These past 18 months have transformed me into faceless particles floating in a pool of anxiety and dread. Specifically, I’ll be floating in a pool of the Hampton Inn in Kansas City. I’ll probably still read your emails. I may never reply.
  • I am taking a break from the ceaseless drumbeat of capitalism, so I can come back refreshed for more capitalism, in order to earn more, to afford to take another break. Capitalism!
  • Once upon a time, there was a concept called a “vacation.” I have gone in search of it. I may never return.
  • I am at the ocean. I am walking into the ocean. I am the ocean now.

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