Leave a phone, enjoy a vacation!

Back in April, my daughter, a junior in high school, had spring break, and as has been the tradition in our family since she was in kindergarten, my daughter, my wife, and I visited my parents who live in rural Georgia.  And as a business owner (or these days, a normal human being), I brought my cell phone with me.  Only just to check email every now and then, I promise.  Or so I tell myself every time I leave town to “relax”.  Of course, what actually happens is I get calls from potential customers wanting more information, and calls from existing customers who have fires that I need to put out, and calls from my friends wanting to know if I’m interested in watching the Reds at our favorite watering hole after work.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d tell my parents to take a tax deduction because I’m running a company out of their home (that’s gotta be deductible to someone, doesn’t it??) and not really doing much vacationing.

Since my daughter is, as previously stated, a high school junior, she is in full college-search mode.  And since one of the colleges she’s looking at is the University of South Carolina, what better use of our time than to kill two birds with one stone and make a campus visit while we’re in the same general vicinity.  So on the Wednesday after Easter we bade my parents farewell and made the two-and-a-half hour drive to Columbia, where we had scheduled a campus tour for Thursday and planned on driving home on Friday.

Except on the way there I noticed that my world was significantly quieter than normal.  I then realized somewhere around Augusta that I had left my phone at my parents’ home.

After the initial thoughts of horror almost forced me to drive my family and me off of I-20 and into the Savannah River, I decided that to turn around and drive the 90 minutes back to my parents’ house would be very counter-productive, and we charged forward to USC.  Besides, both my wife and my daughter have Crackberries, just like me.

Oh, but as anyone who’s been in this situation knows, it’s just not the same.  Different apps, different homepages, and obviously none of my friends will be answering a phone call from my wife’s phone.  I’m not the smartest person on the planet, and neither are my friends, but we’re all smart enough not to answer calls from each others’ war departments.  None of us wants to have to answer the dreaded “Where is my husband?” question!  (Kim, Mary Pat, and Leah, I haven’t seen your husbands – honest!)

So I ventured on, praying that any million-dollar deals that would happen to be left on my phone (IF they were left on my phone) could wait until I got home in a couple of days.  As the only employee of my company, I can’t rely on someone else to handle my company…it’s just me.

Wednesday night, I checked my phone’s answering machine – nothing of any consequence.  Thursday morning – ditto.  And our tour of the campus was great.  By the time the tour was over, I was almost enjoying not having my phone with me.  And by that evening, I was actually glad I’d left the phone behind.  I hadn’t had this much seperation from my business since I started it! 

Driving home Friday I was beginning to wish that I had left my phone at home on all of the other “vacations” I’ve been able to take.  I wasn’t constantly feeling the need to look at email or having to answer calls.  By the time we crossed the Appalachian Mountains I had promised myself not to bring my phone on our next trip…we’ll see if that actually happens.

After arriving home on friday evening, I was able to get all of the email and phone calls answered by the end of that weekend.  Not bad!

The lesson learned?  You can always work, but every now and then it isn’t such a bad idea to disconnect, recharge the batteries, and enjoy being with family.  And Mom, the money to reimurse you for mailing my phone back to me should’ve arrived by now.  Send me an email if it hasn’t.  If I’m not on vacation, I’ll respond.

Trip Topken is the president of Waste Auditing Consultants, the premiere solid waste management consultants in the Greater Cincinnati area. An affiliate of Environmental Waste Solutions, WAC can help any company spending $400 to $375,000 per month on waste and recycling. Savings of 30 to 50 percent are normal, but not guaranteed. WAC, in collaberation with EWS, can simultaneously produce results at all locations across North America. No up-front fees are ever due, and WAC simply shares the savings its work generates. Learn more about Waste Auditing Consultants here. You can contact Trip at 513-398-2117 or email trip@wasteac.com.


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