Tim W. Boiteau, 9/19/2011
Current Occupation: experimental psychology PhD student
Former Occupation: research assistant, dubbing, English teacher, temp, file clerk, painter, hotel desk clerk
Contact Information: Tim W. Boiteau attends the University of South Carolina, studying psycholinguistics, writing fiction, and living with his wife Dongfang.
It happens from time to time that a member of the general public will become bored with the daily grind of their vacation—the margaritas, tanned bodies, string bikinis, lifeless shuffling on the dance floors, noontime wake up calls, all of that—and seek out a job to relieve the tedium. Some will even play truant for extended periods of time, making lifelong careers of non-vacationing, becoming pariahs of decent society.
I have seen such cases and have even employed a number of them. They show up with an air of sea breeze freshness, wearing flip-flops, speaking the worst kind of drawling, aphasic English, like stroke patients struggling to recover their language ability, a sign of all the years wasted in the toil of tanning on beaches and admiring sunsets. In time they become fit non-vacationers, making use of a kind of Pidgin English with which they can communicate the essence of their thoughts and needs. Eventually, they shed the flip-flops and thongs and don suits more fitting of the foreign, air-conditioned climate, often times retaining some semblance of their earlier, government-sanctioned lifestyles whether it be by wearing suits and ties in conjunction with tropical tees, sunglasses and globs of sun lotion on their noses to protect them from the damaging fluorescent lighting or by bringing six-packs to their desks to “chill out” while sorting through the filing. Those that stay on the longest typically end up getting haircuts, shaving their beards, and dying of colon cancer as a result of the newfound sedentary lifestyle. Those that leave after several weeks return to their people more educated about a very poorly understood minority.
Aside from diabetes and colon cancer, the other significant danger of a life of non-vacationing, of course, is attacks instigated by vacationers, who I have seen lurking around the entrance to my own office building on a number of occasions, wielding Tiki torches and fragrant lei lassos, no doubt hoping to make an example out of some wayward member of the human race. On one such occasion, Greenwood, an ex-surfer, had been unfortunate enough to arrive late to work and had been mobbed by a group of these protestors, who called his way of life “a disgrace” and “inhumane”. They had stripped the suit and tie off of him, smothered his horridly pale skin in suntan lotion, and tattooed the phrase “PARTY LIFE 4EVA” to his chest. This abuse only more deeply instilled in him the importance of a life of non-vacationing.
Vacationers frequently accuse us of brainwashing their own kind, and to some extent these claims are justified. Making a non-vacationer out of a vacationer is a tedious process. It involves evening classes, internships, mentoring, etc. Many non-vacationers arrive at a business, looking for a job, no C.V. in hand, no real understanding of what a C.V. is, just an adventurous spirit and an abundance of naïveté. They are referred to non-vacationers with specialized training in dealing with those going through that tough transition period between vacationing and not. Based on their past experiences, they are required to take seminars such as why surfing is not allowed in the office place or where it’s appropriate to wear cute tennis outfits. Many behaviors are fixed. Others are not. Since the majority of non-vacationers at any business are ex-vacationers, schedules tend to revolve around the old way of life: three-day weekends; work tentatively starting weekdays sometime after 10 a.m.; thirty minute slots in both the mornings and afternoons for weed circles, yoga, or meditation; two-hour lunches; afternoon siestas; and, of course, happy hour every day at 4 p.m. in the lobby bar. Dress code exists but is never actually enforced, due to the sensitive nature of culture clash. P.D.A. is a frequent, distracting problem, as non-vacationers have grown up exposed to and even encouraged to take part in overtly sexual behavior. Still, on the issue of brainwashing, it must be noted that at no time has a non-vacationer actively recruited vacationers into the workplace: everyone is here on a voluntary basis.
Occasionally, tours sponsored by and attracting the more open-minded vacationers will pass through the office building, snapping pictures at the non-vacationers as they non-vacation, commenting in their crude language on various aspects of the bizarre way of life: “A plant inside a pot, how cruel!” “Look how they cover their feet, such a conservative and proud people.” “A plastic bubble with an ocean model inside, how novel, and look you can even drink the water, how neat!” “Look how they sit with their spines erect, it’s so unnatural, how do they live like that?” “How can they see without their sunglasses on?” The ignorance of their comments can be understood by long-timers like me, but newcomers, feeling that their newly embraced culture is being insulted, tend to overreact by coming into work early the next day, skipping their siestas for a week, wearing several ties and jackets at the same time, or some other such form of overcompensation.
Sadly, many non-vacationers after years of apparent well-adjustment become depressed and go on violent sprees of surfing in the Baja strip or lose twenty pounds during two-week-long backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail, returning after such relapses with photo albums brimming over with self-portraits of them in various places of interest. Such stints are typically followed by instant termination, but some promising non-vacationers are forgiven their transgressions and sent to corporate retreats where they are reeducated. These latter few arrive back at work more sober than before, clean-cut, and humbled by the experience.
The subject of termination is complicated and never fully grasped by converts. It is a word not used in the vacationer dialect, and most expert linguists agree that not even a rough estimation of the concept exists in their lexicon. As a result, most terminations (even those involving security officers ushering the terminated out of the building) are disregarded by those parties involved, and non-vacationing will usually continue just as before. This can often be frustrating for those in management positions, as continued attempts at termination of unsatisfactory ex-vacationers often comes off as harassment. I myself have been told by an ex-vacationer I was in the process of firing for the fifth time that I was giving him “way bad vibes, man.” It was a meaningful lesson for all of us.
There has been a lot of pressure in recent years for us to acclimate to the modern culture, which is more and more welcoming to vacationers. When vacationers come to us looking for jobs, should we feel guilty about having a hand in “corrupting” these wide-eyed youths or allowing them the opportunity to ostracize themselves from the world they know? We have managed to hold true to our cultural heritage through practicing our constitutional right to freely non-vacation. Unlike those extremists that accuse us of being blemishes on society, we embrace the God-given right of every man, woman, and child, vacationer and non-vacationer, to choose.