I need a holiday…
You know, a few years ago, MANY few years ago, I used to work with the Federal Government of Canada in Ottawa. Quite honestly, there was only one position that I had that I truly enjoyed. However, a couple of things I really liked about working with the government, was the benefits package!
Once becoming a permanent employee, which is not an easy task, new employees are allotted (or were allotted) 3 weeks of holiday time, and 3 weeks of sick leave. When I got my first permanent position, employees were allowed to carry-over vacation time. That is, if you didn’t use up the full 3 weeks in that year, it could be rolled over to the following year. And this was allowed to happen ad infinitum.
I remember several people who were approaching retirement. They had absolutely no sick leave left, however, they had not just a few weeks, but in one case, 6 years worth of holiday time that had never been used!! How did he do this? Well, it comes down to this. Rather than taking a holiday and get away for a week, he would opt to ‘call in sick’ a couple of days before or after a long weekend. Take Easter weekend for instance. That is already a 4-day weekend. Add a couple of days to either side, and you now have a week’s holiday. Same as Christmas/New Years. Take 4 days sick leave, and end up with 10 days holiday time!
Well, the gods of the government became wise to this loophole. Upon my leaving the government, the rule was that you could no longer carry over sick leave. Even if only 1 day remained before the new fiscal year, it was now lost. Vacation leave was allowed to be carried over for one year only. If after that second year you now had 6 weeks holiday, 3 weeks would be paid out to you and taxed as regular income, and the other three weeks would be carried over. Thus, anyone retiring now, will have at the most, 6 weeks holiday (or whatever your entitlement for a year would be).
However, in Taiwan there is no such thing as holiday leave or sick leave. Sure, an individual can take that time time, however, their pay will also reflect that they were not at work, and therefore, a reduction in pay. When you think about an organization like 7-11, where some employees are required to work 6 days a week, that means no chance of having a holiday. You want a holiday, you quit your job, take whatever time you need, and then get back into the workforce when you decide to return. As well, to my knowledge, there is no social welfare or any other type of government payout if you have to leave your work (downsizing, accident, etc.).
That being said, for the couple of days after my accident, I had to take these days off! I couldn’t properly ride my scooter, my hand was in pain to put it mildly – I could barely hold a pencil, let alone anything else. My hand looked like a grapefruit, but thankfully, that was just swelling. It has since gone down, and even though still a bit sore, basically back to normal.
Now, I need a holiday. Not just a couple of days off work, but a holiday. My family is planning a reunion on September 9, 2010. I really want to go. I haven’t seen or heard from my family in almost 10 years, and now that I’m back in contact with them, I want to see them, as much as I hope they want to see me!
In the past few years, so many of the people that I’ve known and been part of have left or passed on. There are many new additions to the family that I have never seen! Nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles… all these people have had someone added to or deleted from their lives.
Taking this time off will be a great reduction in my salary, since I am paid only for the time that I’m in class. Sure, as a foreign teacher, I make a little more than the local teachers, but when I translate that back to my own currency, in this case, the Canadian dollar, it’s still not a living salary by Canadian standards. However, I won’t suffer!
My biggest expense will be the travel! Not only in terms of how much money, but time! To get from Taipei to Toronto will be a 20 hour trip! Yes, 20 hours! Now, I have 2 options open to me. One is go by economy flight. However, for anyone that has traveled even 4 hours economy, will know that that is not a great ride. However, the cost would be considerably low.
The other option, which is my preferred choice, is to business class. Again, for this I kind of have 2 options. One, go from Taipei to Toronto all the way. Other option, Taipei to Vancouver on business, and then switch to economy from Vancouver to Toronto or London.
When I first flew from Vancouver to Taipei, I went economy class. Not a lot of funds, and so that was my only option. Now I’m a bit older, I don’t want to have to sit upright for 14-18 hours to Vancouver. So I think option 2A (Taipei to Vancouver, then Vancouver to London) would be better.
I still have about 2 months to arrange all this. It may seem like a simple matter, but believe me, it ain’t. Flying from Taiwan, there is no deals. There is no booking ahead to get a better rate. I could look into flying with a tour group, and just ask for the seat on the plane – no travel with them in Vancouver. Hmm. There are always tour groups going to Vancouver, so I may be able to get a good deal. If the price is right, I may just bite the bullet, and fly economy.
I haven’t booked anything yet, and as far as everyone knows, I haven’t confirmed the reunion. But I really do need a break. The last holiday I took was a 4-day weekend to Macao last year. It was a great trip, but 4 days is not a long time. This trip will have to be AT LEAST 2 weeks! Any shorter than that, and I wouldn’t have time to see a lot of people.
And there are a lot of people to see. Not just relatives, but friends as well.
Besides, Marie would kick my ass if I didn’t at least make ONE trip to Windsor!!