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  • Jill Helmer

Take the Vacation

Updated: Jun 27, 2020

A few years ago, in my travels to work with one of my clients, I met a wonderful receptionist, Rachel. My routine when I arrived at the company was to press a button in the lobby that connected me to her desk. When I pressed this button, Rachel’s voice boomed across the speaker and she said…”Good morning Jill, I’ll be right down.” She would then proceed to take the elevator to the lobby where she would greet me and we would chat on our way back upstairs. In a December or January visit that year, I asked Rachel what she had done over the weekend and she said that she had won a vacation package in a basket bingo that she had attended. She was very excited. From that visit on, I would ask Rachel if she had scheduled her vacation. We had many discussions about this over that 6 month period. At first, she and her husband were going to go away in the winter, but then they didn’t want to go away to the warmth and return to the cold weather. So they decided they would go in the spring, but as spring approached the flight prices were pretty high so they decided to wait until the summer. The last time we spoke the vacation was scheduled. 


A few weeks passed and I visited my client again. This time, I pressed the button and belted out...Good Morning Rachel. There was a pause and then a response from a young woman who said...Rachel isn’t here but I will be right down for you.  I smiled and thought she must be on her vacation. I then proceeded to go upstairs and sign in when I ran into a friend. I asked how he was and he said it had been a tough week. When I asked why he shared with me that Rachel had died on Tuesday.


She went to the doctor the week before her scheduled vacation and the doctor suggested she stay at home. She spent the next week getting many tests and confirming that she had a mass in her body. On Monday, Hospice was called and she died on Tuesday. 


I don’t know any more details. I don’t even know Rachel’s last name. I do know that she was a lovely, pleasant, and hard-working woman.  I also know that Rachel was so excited that she won that vacation. I know that she was very careful about planning exactly the right time to take it. And I now know that it was too late.


I thought of this story yesterday when I was in a Zoom meeting with a client from this company. He was talking about encouraging his team to take their vacations this summer. People are hesitating to take them...you might be, as well. After all, your options have become more limited based on the COVID-19 impact. You are thinking...I might as well just stick it out at home or head to a local beach and bring my computer. I can work from there. I want to share with you that this would be a mistake. What you need this summer...what your people need this summer...is time away from their computers, their zoom meetings, and you. And you need time away from them. They need time to be with their families and to recharge their batteries. If this spring has taught us anything, it is that we don't know what is around the corner for our world, our businesses, and our lives. We need to take the vacation and enjoy it. We need to get our people re-energized for whatever lies ahead. Please do both and be safe.



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