BRANSON — There are always lessons to be learned, even when on vacation.
This week is the first five-day stretch of time off from work I’ve had since last summer. My job responsibilities make it difficult to get away during the school year so I try to schedule long weekends here and there, but real vacation time waits until June and July. Much like every day during the academic year, each day on holiday presents opportunities to learn something or remind you of some truths.
• What seems obvious is not always apparent to others. My wife, Melany, and I went to a teppan table restaurant for dinner. We were the last two to be seated around the grill and the server took our orders. The chef eventually came out and confirmed orders with everyone except us. We thought maybe since the others had been seated at least 10 minutes earlier than we were that he was going to cook their meals then get to us. When he finished creating their meals, he turned off the grill and got ready to leave when Mel asked if he had our orders. He looked bewildered and called for the server, who admitted he forgot to put in our orders. Still, we wondered if the chef thought we were just there for the show.
• Even when on vacation, some people can’t relax. We stayed at a resort property, and there are parking spaces in front of each unit. The guy staying across the road from us was really territorial about space where he originally parked, to the point that if someone parked there while he was away, as soon as they left he scurried out to reclaim his spot. Let it go, Wilbur, the extra six steps won’t hurt you.
• What’s old is new again, always. The movie marquees this week feature titles such as “Toy Story,” “Child’s Play” and “Men in Black,” and as we flipped around TV channels for some late-night time filler, we found out that “Deal or No Deal” is back on the air. A two-decade time warp is in full effect.
• Some things don’t change. Even on vacation, my first responsibility each day is to make the first pot of coffee.
• Teaching is fun and rewarding. While picking up a few grocery items, we saw a trio of Japanese teens examining watermelons and it was clear they were trying to figure out which ones were ripe. Mel went over and showed them her trick: Put your ear on the rind and thump the melon with your fingers; the hollower it sounds, the more ripe it is. The teens were quite appreciative, and Mel was happy to connect with them.
• GPS will get you where you’re going, but the route might be a head-scratcher. Our destination was across town and Google Maps gave us multiple options. One had us travel a mile north on the highway before doubling back almost as far. Another looked like a straight shot, so we took that one. As we wound our way through residential neighborhoods and over about 27 speed bumps, we wished we had taken Option 1. We did, however, get to cruise down Boxcar Willie Drive, so we have that going for us.
• “You’re better when you’re on vacation.” We were away from home less than 48 hours when Mel shared that observation with me. I paused for a moment, slightly indignant, but quickly realized she was right and why she was right. We all need time off. We all need to get away from our routines, work obligations and everyday surroundings and allow our minds and bodies to rest. We need to spend quality time with our loved ones, and with ourselves. Consider it scheduled maintenance if you must, but this investment pays dividends not only for you but also for all those who depend on you and care about you.