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David Porter’s day off

An unplanned staycation conjurers a bygone roadtrip

I’m taking a vacation day tomorrow. I’ve got too much work to do to really feel like I can take vacation, but sometimes you need a little“me time” before tackling the big jobs. I haven’t taken off except holidays and a couple of sick days since before the first of the year, and it’s looking like July before I could take a week, so I figured I better get a day in here and there.

I have a bad habit of taking my computer with me andchecking my email while on vacation, which drives my wife nuts. I’m just afraid that if I don’t do at least a little work on my days off, they’ll figure out that they can get along without me. There’s nothing like mutual dependency to stave off unemployment.

I don’t have any plans. I might end up down at the coffee shop. I have to call it the “coffee shop” now because my mom gets the newspaper and I wouldn’t want her to concern herself in regard to my bad habits. Hi, Mom.

I’ll probably sleep in tomorrow then stay up late in my mancave out in the garage. I’ll wake up groggy on Wednesday wishing I could take another day.

That’s the extent of my exciting vacation plans. Or, maybe I’ll get motivated and do something different like bake bread from scratch ororganize my tools. You and I both know that’s not going to happen, but for now,the possibility exists. Let’s be optimists for a moment.

Being on vacation for a day makes me think back to the vacations I took in my youth. It’s not hard to remember our family vacations because there was only one. We only took that one because my dad had gotten laid off from his job, and he was looking for work. He knew a guy in Wisconsin for whom he’d worked before, so we went up there for a visit and made a couple of other stops along the way. We never stayed in a hotel. If we didn’t have family or friends on a route, that route just wasn’t going to work out.

My dad was not the vacationing type. Maybe if it had just been him and mom he might have traveled more, but with six kids in the family,we didn’t go too far in one car.

That one car, back in the 70s, was an old, white Cadillac. My oldest brother was at least six feet tall by then, so stacking us six kids into any car was tricky – even a boat like that Cadillac. Here’s how we did it: Mom and Dad rode up front, of course, and my youngest brother rode between them. Remember the old armrests that would come down between the front seats? He’d sit on that. The four oldest would sit in the back seat, and I, being the smaller fifth child, would lie across the ledge in the back window. It was my favorite place. I had plenty of leg room, I could see the world behind us, and it wassomeplace where the others couldn’t go and didn’t want to go.

Think how many traffic tickets one would get today for that arrangement. No child safety seats. Not enough seatbelts to go around. Me in the window. I’d probably get put into foster care for that today.

Somewhere on Facebook, there’s a picture of the six of us posing with our cousins in Oak Forest, and that old Caddy is visible in the background. I look positively bored to be in the picture. I probably just didn’t want to stop whatever I had been doing to take a picture.

This wasn’t the only vacation I took as a kid; it was just the only one we took as a family. I went a couple of times with the neighbors since they didn’t have enough kids of their own. We got to stay in hotels and rode to Florida in a camper mounted in the bed of Mr. A’s pickup truck. That was deluxe, but that’s another story for another day.

My vacation day has officially started, so I’m going to gomake the most of it. Translation: It’s nap time.

But just to make this feel like a real vacation, I turned off the thermostat so I can’t regulate the temperature in the room, and I hired the neighborhood kids to run and scream outside my window all night. Then in the morning, I’ll get dressed before walking down the hall to my living room where I’ll enjoy a warm glass of orange juice that has been sitting out all night. Then I’ll go down to the Big Mart store and wait in line for 30 minutes while pretending that the cash register is a carnival ride that will break just before I get to the front of the line.

By the end of the day, I’ll be ready to go back to work.

(c) Copyright 2013 by David Porter who can be reached at

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