Monday, November 14, 2011

Super Secret Day Off

Last Friday was Veteran’s Day, and my wife and I had a wonderful liesurely afternoon together. I alluded last week to the somewhat non-standard way in which it became a work-free day for me. Not a company holiday, not a day on which the government office was closed (although all of the government employees had the day off as an official holiday), yet not a day where I had to utilize any paid leave time or floating holidays or anything. Just a day I get to charge as if I had shown up for a full day of work, even though I emphatically did not, with the accounting side of who gets charged for the billable hours handled somewhere up above my paygrade.

One thing I didn’t mention about all that, though, is how the overall awesomeness of my boss’s gestures (he has done stuff like this for the contract team before, in the two-plus years I’ve been on this gig) is so often muted or marred by everybody being exceptionally squirrelly about it. It always goes down the same way, too, with one person saying “Hey, did you hear the boss is getting us Friday off?” and someone else hissing “Shhhh!” because apparently it needs to remain this totally secretive thing. I have no doubts whatsoever about my supervisor’s integrity, nor my employers, and while I snark about the bookkeeping mumbo-jumbo required to let us all play Veteran’s Day hooky on the company dime, I remain convinced that the whole paying-for-extra-time-off-out-of-discretionary-contract-funding is a legit move. And since the government folks have the day off already, I can’t imagine them being horrible distraught that we contractors are taking the day off en masse as well. I think maybe it has something to do with the sub-contractors, over whom my boss does not have the same degree of control and therefore cannot just blanket excuse for a long weekend? And how it would be bad form for us to crow too loudly about our good fortune when they all have to either come to work or use personal time off to stay home?

U!S!A!!! U!S!A!!! U!S!A!!!
The colleague I work most closely with on various projects is a sweet matronly woman who strikes me as not super-bright and just kind of riding out the contracting equivalent of tenure until she can retire. She took the whole secrecy thing to another level last Thursday, as she swung by my desk to ask something on her way out the door, and as we were saying good bye to each other she said, “OK, see you …” and then she MOUTHED the word “Monday”. I just nodded because I really wasn’t sure what to say. Did she think if no one heard her say that in effect she wouldn’t be in on Friday, that then no one would notice when she didn’t show up? And what difference does that make either way? It wasn’t as though she were covering up an attempt to express “Enjoy the free day off the boss gave us!” Just saying “See you Monday” could imply she was taking her own personal day off Friday, or I was, or any number of non-controversial things. But old habits die hard, I guess.

A little later on Thursday afternoon I headed out myself, and there began an epic adventure in getting home which seemed more akin to what happens around here during blizzards, but I think I will save that recap for tomorrow.

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