I need a vacation. I really, really need a vacation. It’s been over a year that I’ve been working from home. You might think that a Work From Home situation would be just like a vacation. But you’d be wrong. Very wrong.

How I got here

I work as a Senior IT Analyst for a local government agency. I used to be a computer programmer. But, for the last six years, I’ve been primarily responsible for computer system used to host our website, our internal document sharing solutions (two separate platforms), our employee evaluation system, and several other systems running on our network.

We were a team of four. Now, we’re now a team of Me. True, there are some folks I am training on some of the systems. But they’re not dedicated teammates as I’ve had in the past. It seems I have been too effective and efficient and no teammates have been replaced.

As far as IT jobs go, this one is pretty solid and reliable. The work is consistent and steady. No 60-80 hour work weeks. No overnight deployment scenarios. Few lost weekends.

Prior to the shutdown, I enjoyed my working conditions. I enjoyed about half of our meetings (the other half were redundant of unnecessary). I liked exchanging ideas across cubicles or gaining insights from conversations overheard in the break room.

With COVID pandemic hanging over us, all that went away.

Where I’m at

Today, our meetings are conducted on Microsoft Teams. But we have standardized on NOT sharing our cameras during our meetings (it’s the organization’s default setting). I rarely see my coworkers even though I speak with and hear them every day. You may not think this is a problem (IT guys are rarely fashion-forward). But when you are not in the physical presence of your team, some of the normal interactions are missing. Gone are the quips and comments we might make to each other concerning our COVID beards, sports teams, or where we may meet for a beer after work. I hate this. This makes me feel isolated. Although I’m interacting with my coworkers all day long, it’s just not the same.

In the efforts to keep America running under the scourge of COVID, many IT departments have been called upon to update and automate many manual processes. New tools have been introduced. Requirements have been updated. Virtually every IT department had to jump through hoops to keep the doors open at their firms.

I am exhausted. I need a break.

Where I’m going

In 2017, I visited my uncle and cousins in Mexico. I’d not been there in 40 years. Many, many things had changed since my last visit. Yet, family is family for a reason. I was able to meet with my cousins over dinner one night to share stories and learn about a whole new generation (or two) of cousins I’d not yet met. That conversation could have happened any time in the last 40 years and it would have been the same.

I need to do more of this: something that is NOT related to my job in any manner whatsoever. I need to take a hike in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills. I need to swim in one of the many rivers or lakes in the area. Perhaps a few days at a campsite will help recharge my batteries.

Tent in a forest
A tent in the forest is the best place to wake up.

The one thing that I must NOT do is remain in my work-at-home office for 12 hours a day, six days a week. My workaholic self thinks that I must ensure that I have trained my coworkers to fill in for me before I leave. But ensuring I have a backup is primarily the job of my supervisor. He should have known this day was coming. After all, he’s taken two vacations during lockdown.

It’s settled. If you need to reach me: sorry. Come back soon. I’m on vacation.

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