Not Working

There are many cultural differences between the UK and the US, but one sticks out like nothing else when working in the US and in the Oil Industry - the fact that no-one here takes holidays.  Not a single person here that I know of seriously plans their year around holidays or plans to travel away.  There are plans for weekends, and long weekends, and weddings, and possibly trips for business, but when I even breathe that I am considering going to take some time off to go somewhere there's a sharp intake of breath.

I took 3.5 weeks off when I drove the Road Trip and that is the longest I have ever taken off mid-year; I took approximately 4 weeks off at Christmas but we can discount that due to the fact that a) it was expected and b) that's about the only time of the year any American worker takes time off.  When I mentioned this quite large amount of leave I exepcted a reaction of "Oh, wow, where are you going?" or something along those lines, but not the "Oh man, well, we will need to see..." or "What? How can you?".

The reason I can is because I work within the EU Working regulations.  There are things written into law that state that you must take time off work; Canada has 10-15 days required, the UK has 5.6 weeks (or 28 days plus holidays), and even Iran has 4 weeks annual leave to take.  The United States of America, the leader of the world, the super power, the beacon of democracy in our world?


pronoun /nən/ 
Not any
- none of you want to work
- don't use any more water, or there'll be none left for me

Not a single day legally required to be given.  Not a single hour.  The company I work for, though, in their infinite wisdom, do give you vacation days -  however, you earn that at a rate 3.5 hours of per 8 worked, which works out at a 184 hours, or 23 days year (this includes the holidays required to take for the nine office closure days on public holidays).  The interesting thing is that even after they give you this accrued vacation-leave, you can cash it in for money, rather than taking the time off work.  What's the use in that?  Why do it at all then?

There are a few problems with this.  The first is people who work are being legally obligated to not taken any days off.  What I mean is that in the same way that I have to take time off, people in the US have no reason to, and as such it hasn't appeared in their way of working ever.  So they won't, and have no reason to want to.  Secondly, the culture of the company I work for seems to be "quantatity".  I work 40 hours a week, 2.5 more than my base in the UK.  This is the base level, or lowest I can work - 4x 9 hour days plus a few on Friday to push me over the limit.  It feels okay here, because everyone is working fucking batshit hours - last week, at the afore mentioned "boil" a guy who works on my project mentions casually that he has been working 55 hour weeks since January.  This obviously is analogous to the people that I worked with when the Tales of Rock Steady were the bread and butter of my blogging subject matter - they try to outplay each other in terms of hours worked, or not slept, but to me it just seems crazy - if you can't do your job in 40 hours get someone else to help you out, or you need to work harder.  Working 55 hours a week is mental.

Or is it?  The third thing that annoys me about working in the US is that it seems to be regarded as crazy to want to not work.  I love taking time off and going travelling or just sitting about relaxing.  There's a reason why I like Thursdays and Fridays: if it was the otherway I'd be in on the weekend and pissing my self with anticipation every Sunday night - but no, no I don't.  I work to make money to then make my life the way I want it to be, not just to fill my days with shite.  I don't work for the fun of it, luckily I have a job I enjoy to a degree, but if I didn't have to work there would be no-way I'd be sitting in my window less office troubleshooting the Microsoft Excel Solver function.  Yet, here, in the States, I feel dirty, even an outcast, the moment I mention that in the UK, at my company, I get 34 days off (which, with 5 day weeks, works out at essentiall 7 weeks off work.

The work-life balance is broken, and they only have themselves to blame. 

Note: After writing the above post over 4 months (starting in February, working in various stages) I finally fact-checked some of the finer points and it dawned on me that the company that I work for actually incentivise you to not take time off.  You see, the spurious working hours that I can work are a godsend.  If you work your 40 hours a week, on any day of the week, in any lump sum, they don't really care.  So, if you wanted to work 40 hours Mon - Thursday, you can, and then work 8 hours on Friday.  Then, take the following Monday off, you can use the 8 hours "banked" to still work the Monday technically, without actually needing to come in - so the Holiday is observed, yet they've, in my eyes, tricked you into thinking it's better to work the hours rather than take them off.