As you know from my earlier posts, I’m no longer working in PR. And since I’m a ‘labeler’ I’ve decided to call this period in my life a sabbatical. By definition, a sabbatical (from Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, literally a “ceasing”) is a rest from work, or a hiatus that lasts from two months to a year. Now if you ask me, those Greeks and Hebrews sure know how to live.
I went into my sabbatical with some trepidation. How would I adjust to life without the job I’d had since even before I graduated college? How would I fill my days? My thoughts? I worried there’d be so much I’d miss about my old life. But I gotta tell ya, since then, I realized there’s much more I don’t miss.
There’s the obvious stuff I don’t miss about my job like the eye bulging stress and the complete and total infringement on my life. : ) But there’s also a bunch of little things that you realize are really annoying once they’re gone.
Take the bullshit, made-up vocabulary of the corporate world. Corporate America has a vocabulary all its own that includes lots of ridiculous phrases contrived to make regular ol’ things sound important. Like touch base as in “I’ll touch base with you on that later this week.” Um, how about just “I’ll talk to you about that…?” There’s also circle back. That’s basically the same thing as touch base as far as I remember. But I mean, what are we show horses? Circle back. Tssst. Here’s one that cracks me up – action items. You can call them action items if it helps you cope, but the reality is they’re just the shit you have to do. Synonymous with action items are deliverables. But still – just the shit you have to do. Oh wait. Let’s not forget about low hanging fruit. Maybe my mind is in the gutter, but every time I heard that one I couldn’t help but think of something perverse. Let’s just say I’m not interested in your low hanging fruit, buddy. I could go on and on, but I’ll throw in just a couple more particularly egregious terms. Value add. “Susy Snowflake, what’s your value add?” Translation: “Say something smart that justifies your being here.” Out-of-the-box. “We need some out-of-the-box ideas.” Translation: “We have to think of something we haven’t tried and failed at already.” I haven’t used any of these phrases in almost six weeks and I’m pretty sure I’m still communicating and people understand me.
Another thing I don’t miss is email. Obviously I still use it in my personal life, but in my work life, email was the primary method of communication. I think that was partly because you always need to have a paper trail to back you up in case something went awry. But for Christ’s sake we’d email people who were sitting not more than 20 feet from us. To add insult to injury there was also IM. You used that if the person you just emailed (who sits 10 paces from you) doesn’t respond within 3 minutes. And, even if you had a real, live conversation with someone, it was always followed up shortly afterward by an email, just to put the exact same things you talked about in writing. Imagine if you did that in real life? I know, next time Enzo and I have an argument, I’ll send him an email recapping what I think my most salient points were.
I also don’t miss business travel. In my real life I love to travel. I love everything about it from planning the trip, picking hotels, researching excursions, etc. But business travel is different. Through my job I had occasion to travel to some of the most beautiful parts of the country but rarely spent enough time in any of those places to really enjoy them. In the business world, any destination you can get to in 4 hours or less is a day trip. And sometimes even a trip to the west coast didn’t constitute an overnight unless you count the 30 winks you get on the red eye. I once flew 6 hours to sit in a 90 minute meeting and went straight back to the airport to fly 6 hours home. That was nice. Nope, I don’t miss that.
So despite my initial concern, I’m enjoying this sabbatical very much. Today’s agenda included waking up at 6:00, making my husband’s lunch, having coffee and a walk with Sonny, having lunch with my mom and dad, a trip to Russo’s where I leisurely selected the best of their eggplant, squash, russets and cubanile peppers, a stop at the local nursery to pick up mums and pumpkins to decorate our front porch, an afternoon of work in the garden and sitting down for dinner (3 courses that I made) with Enzo at 6:00. Now that’s my idea of value add.