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Vacation? What vacation? - Tom Purcell

"Ah, Memorial Day has come and gone. I know what that means. Summer has arrived, which means the wife and I won't be taking any vacations again!"

"Ah, yes, you speak of a spate of stories on the subject. CNN reports that 'not only do American workers get less vacation time than workers in other industrialized countries, but they also opt to take fewer days off.'"

"You're singing to the choir, brother. The wife and I haven't had a vacation since before the economy collapsed in 2008. All we do is work."

"Well, you're not alone. CNN reports that 'the average employed American worker got 18 vacation days last year, but only used 14 of those desirable days off.'"

"We're thinking if we're going to be broke anyhow, we may as well be French!"

"But of course! French workers got 37 vacation days last year and used 35 of them."

"Thirty-five days! That's seven weeks of paid vacation -- the stuff of dreams in America!"

"And unlike Americans, the French use most of their paid days off. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, 89 percent of French workers use up all 37 days, whereas only 57 percent of Americans use up all their vacation time."

"That's 'cause we're terrified to take time off in this economy!"

"That is absolutely true. CNN also reports that companies are so lean in this tight economy that employees, who are doing the equivalent of up to two jobs, are eager to show their loyalty and value, so they don't get canned."

"Like there is such a thing as time off. Every Friday at my company, we have a funny saying: 'Only two more working days until Monday!'"

"You speak another unfortunate truth. With all the e-mail, smartphones and other forms of electronic communication, workers are accessible to their employers 24 hours a day. A Rasmussen Reports poll finds that even when Americans do take time off, 72 percent of them will check in with the office."

"Sometimes I dream of starting my own business and taking vacation whenever I want!"

"Dream on! According to Business News Daily, 'fewer than half of small-business owners will be taking a summer vacation for a full week this year, down from 67 percent in 2006.'"

"You're kidding me."

"Look, small business owners create 90 percent of the jobs in America. Right now, with the economy so uncertain, many are afraid to hire. They are picking up the slack by working two or three jobs themselves. Where is the time to take a vacation? Besides, Americans like to work!"

"We do?"

"Sure! According to a report by the Journal of Happiness Studies, Americans believe hard work is associated with success. The harder we work and the more successful we become, the happier we become."

"With all due respect, I'd be happy with more leisure time."

"Then you must be European. The same study found that whereas Americans define happiness through work, Europeans define happiness through leisure."

"Look, all the wife and I want to do is take a couple of weeks off and relax a little. Yet we feel guilty -- like we're breaking some law."

"Funny you mention that. There are some groups advocating new laws to make at least one week of employer-paid vacation mandatory. Such legislation hasn't got very far, though."

"You're a depressing guy -- which reminds me: The boss just texted me. I've got to get back to work."

Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, is also a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. E-mail Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.