The weather was beautiful the week of our vacation.  The sun never stopped shining, and for the first half of the week we never left the beach.  We shared drinks on the deck, ran around with the kids, even went on a bike ride along the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a gorgeous, flat trail that cuts through the center of the Cape, almost from end to end.

At work, though, I was about to be appointed the new Director of Marketing.  The promotion was so new, in fact, that it hadn’t been officially announced.  My boss had taken care of the paperwork and my raise (which was a big one) was in effect, but the promotion wasn’t going to be officially announced to the company until October.

Meanwhile, the company was working on preparing its annual budget.  In the absence of an “official” Director, my boss asked a co-worker and me to prepare the budget for the marketing department together, and to present it to the executive committee at a meeting right after we returned from vacation.

I was fairly calm about it.  Knowing that the promotion was coming, and knowing that the executive committee knew it as well, I was planning on taking advantage of the “new guy window” – the window of opportunity that you have as a new employee to make mistakes, and also to ask for the moon.  Usually, you get the moon when you’re the new guy, because the company wants that new guy honeymoon to last, and doesn’t want to kill your enthusiasm for the job.

My coworker was a little fried by the process, though, and while I was on vacation we both learned that the financial department had made a major error with their budget software, and our entire budget had to be re-done, from scratch.

Suddenly, I was in a panic.  The budget I had prepared was done the old-fashioned way: in pencil, on ledger paper.  Then, it was plugged into the spreadsheet provided to us by the finance department, just before I went away on vacation.

Now, I was on Cape Cod and my ledger papers were in New Jersey, with the budget due the week I returned.  I had to re-enter all my figures, transcribing them from the ledger paper into the revised budget software.  Since my co-worker was working so hard on his half of the budget, I couldn’t possibly ask him to do mine, so I would have to re-enter everything myself.

There was no way I was going to be able to get it all done.

So by Wednesday, I was pacing back and forth on the deck, unable to contain myself.

“I wonder if I should just go back and take care of it,” I said.

“Dude, you’ve got friends here as guests,” Rich told me.  “We’re up here together.  You’re not going to just leave, are you?”

But I was stressed.  Borderline frantic.  And by Wednesday afternoon, I had decided that I was leaving on Thursday morning, driving back home, and going into the office on Friday so that I could work on the budget all weekend.

It wasn’t the first time I had left a vacation early to go take care of something at work.  Way back at my past job, I wound up working from vacation, trying to solve the problem of a frantic boss, pissed off because he learned we weren’t allowed to use an American flag on our packaging.  From that point on, I always had a laptop with me, and I checked email three or four times a day.  I justified it by saying “It’s good for me to do this, since I won’t have 400 emails waiting for me when I get back.”

Still, on one or two other occasions, things became so hectic at the office that I left my family on the beach and went back to work.  Sandy never seemed to mind that much; as much as we enjoy our family time, she also realizes that when I’m distracted and stressed out, I’m not really there, anyway.

So I justified it, and told Rich and Lissette to enjoy the rest of their vacation.  I hugged them both goodbye, and told them I’d see them in a week at our annual Labor Day party.  Then I kissed Sandy and the kids, and hit the road.

What I didn’t understand at the time was that Rich’s gentle chiding, his soft admonitions about leaving his friends behind at the Cape actually had a purpose.  His stomach was bothering him – he thought there might be something wrong, and he was scared.  So he wanted us all to enjoy the vacation together.

That Saturday, the church that Sandy’s parents attend on the Cape had their annual antique auction.  Being a lover of antiques, Rich was really enthusiastic about going, and so they all went together.  At the auction, Rich found something he loved: an old, antique organ, the kind you have to pump with your feet in order to get it to work.  It was functioning properly, and against Lissette’s wishes, Rich put in a bid.  And won it.

Of course it was too big for them to bring home with them.  Since I had left and gone back to New Jersey, they were left with only Rich’s Dodge Neon and Sandy’s Saturn – I had taken the SUV with me.  With all the kids and the remaining luggage, groceries, toys and bicycles, the only place to put an old organ was on the roof.

The owner of the organ was very serious when he explained to Rich that the organ could not be transported on its back.  It had to remain upright at all times, otherwise the contraptions inside its guts that made it work would break, and the only way to repair it would be to find someone who knew how to repair an antique, pump-style organ.

So they got someone to bring it to Sandy’s parents’ house and put it into the garage, and Sandy agreed that we would bring it back at Thanksgiving, since we spent every Thanksgiving at the Cape anyway.

When Rich and Lissette got back from vacation, he immediately made an appointment to go to the doctor.  He was nervous about his stomach, so his doctor made a referral to a radiologist so that he could have a CT scan.  The CT scan, of course, revealed “something.”

“The doctor thinks it’s probably just scar tissue from one of my surgeries,” he explained.  “Nobody’s really worried about it, but when you’ve gone through what I have, they want to be extra-cautious.”

They scheduled an exploratory surgery for later that month.  I believe the date of the surgery was September 12, 2001.

~ by Al on December 9, 2009.

One Response to “vacation.”

  1. I got worried in the beginning of the post that nothing bad was going to happen – so… whew.

    My brother has had one of those organs for over 30 years… but it’s never worked. He probably did transport it on its back at some point. It just holds crap on it. He’s needed to find one of those pump-organ-fixers for a long time now.

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