Sunday, July 30, 2006

See you in September

Friday officially marked the beginning of vacation season ( yes, season ) at my company and in Europe as a whole. Here in Europe there's Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall and Vacation season. Thats five for anyone who doesn't care to go back and count.

When i was working in the states for my current company i found it rather annoying. For 4-6 weeks every summer our European office became a ghost town. Need some cost info, need some quotes, need some prototypes?..forget it. Tell your customer to wait. After all, shouldn't he have vacation season too??? It wouldn't be so bad if it was spread out over a bigger portion of the year, one person taking vacation here, one person there. But no, it's all grouped together between June and September. There are a few people at work who literally walked out last Friday and said “Bis September”....”Until September”.


To be fair this vacation season is pretty common throughout Europe. That is one reason they are able to get away with it. When your customers and suppliers are also taking time off then its much easier for you. But don't forget, its not just B2B businesses, it's consumer businesses as well. The bike shop down the street is closed till August 11th and the Kebop place next door is closed nearly as long! In my mind this would be the best time to be a shop owner, but try telling that to the shop owners. Actually I think that the vacation season here is an excellent illustration of the overall mentality towards work here. The world can wait, we've got vacation.

Is it really any wonder that most European economies cannot match the US for growth or output? When you add up all the time off they have allot of catching up to do. I'm an engineer by degree so lets do some math. Take 4 weeks and multiply over 100 years, thats 400 weeks. Now subtract out the average 2 week vacation in the states and that means that Europe's economy is ~2 yrs behind ours!! Rest easily my fellow Americans, our position at the top of the economic food chain is secure. Well, assuming China or our own government doesn't screw it up.

But now I'm on the other side of the fence and i can hear you asking “but corrigan, has my view changed?” But of course, from this side of the pond i can honestly say that it's great! I'm working the next few weeks because i cant afford the time off from my projects, but it should be nice and quiet around work. Come in at 10, 3 hr lunch, leave at 3...and i bet i still get more done than i normally due because of the lack of distractions. I've already taken about 8 days off this year and in September I'm taking about another 10 days. I suppose I'm a hypocrite, but I'm comfortable with that.

I sleep better.

Particularly knowing i have so much vacation.

Now get back to work you lazy Americans!

Oh, one more the BBQ went well, except for the Margaritas. First, i had trouble finding the Margarita mix. Tequila wasnt a problem, but the mix was nowhere to be found. After a few calls i got a line on a store that might have them but before going i thought it prudent to make sure i could find ice. Believe it or not, this is a huge challenge. When i was at LeMans there was no ice to be found. If i go next year, I'm renting a truck and a generator and carting along an ice maker. I'm telling you, that idea is pure gold!

Anyway, back to the margarita issue, so i called a few people asking where i can find ice. The best answer i got was “try McDonald's, i think they have an ice machine”. Well, i decided that Corona would have to do.