Thursday, October 25, 2007

Taking a Personal Month

Reading an article in WSJ this morning brought to mind the wry acknowledgment that I seem to be taking the Personal Day thing a bit far, lately. Only thing is, with my own business, there is really no one to whom I have to give excuses--- well, I might want to make something up for a few of my associates whose raised eyebrows I'm beginning to hear in their voices over the phone. And perhaps for Ossie, creator of Princess Phatso's persona, who might have some concerns if I ask for an extension on my half of the mortgage in a few weeks.

But if I did need an excuse, I still doubt I would resort to what the people over at Vision Matters are offering:

"Some people think every working stiff needs the occasional mental-health day (read: an unexcused day off), and others think there's no excuse for that type of thing. Whatever its philosophical position might be, Vision Matters is getting in on the action with its Excused Absence Network. For about $25, students and employees can buy excuse notes from the Web site that appear to come from doctors, fake jury summons, or authentic-looking funeral service programs, complete with a list of pallbearers. Appalling? "Millions of Americans work dead-end jobs, and sometimes they just need a day off," said John Liddell, co-founder of Vision Matters. Critics raise concerns about legal matters -- for example, if a medical provider is implicated. Mr. Liddell says his site gets 15,000 hits a month."

The site entices visitors with inviting rhetoric, such as "Imagine being able to create a Doctor's Note--wouldn't that be great?" and "Have you ever wondered how to get paid from your employer without even being at work?" As a bonus to drooling prospective deadbeats, they've splashed a garish banner ad across the top of their welcome page, promising one "lucky" customer a free Boob Job, if they can manage to direct their trembling thumbs to text "BIG" to the advertised number. Oh, and the automatic audio site message that blares a witty commercial as you attempt to take all this in, ends with the sotto voce disclaimer, "For entertainment purposes only."

The lack of principles at work behind the philosophy that led to the development of such a website and the very existence of its apparent devotees is why I am overweight. Your neck may still be wrenched from this quantum leap of logic, but patience, Grasshopper, allow me to explain.

I'm talking slippage. Walking too close, too many times to the edge of the precipice of honesty, integrity, perseverance... we're bound to up our chances of slipping... down that easier, softer path. The path that leads to The Enchanted Forest of Entitlement, beyond which lies The Slough of I Deserve It. Since when did we become a population who is so ticked off at having to work to make our way in the world that it becomes acceptable to steal our wages from those who give us gainful employment? And in order to do it, we impersonate a professional whose very attainment of their skills belies exactly what we are trying to avoid: w-w-w-o-o-o-r-r-rk.
How cool is that?

I'll bet one New Jersey woman who used one of their notes to get out of appearing in traffic court came to believe it wasn't so cool. When court officials called the chiropractor who "signed" the note, he informed them he never heard of the woman, and she found out that, in addition to having a right to her personal down-time, she also had the right to remain silent. Maybe Vision Matters can create another site with virtual attorneys for hire...for about $25.

Apparently too many times I've chosen to reward myself...for nothing. Too many times I stole from my own family, by over-consuming resources that were there for all of us. Too many times I excused myself from doing what every human needs to do to remain healthy and mobile, daily exercise. I failed to even honor my body as much as I would my car, provide it the proper fuel and move it daily. Vainly seeking the ephemeral something for nothing.

Well. I'm changing that now, on a daily basis. I can only make amends for my past actions by choosing differently today. What I find, and what I think so many of us find once we make it past puberty, is a society so fast-paced and so complex that pure and uncomplicated principles are unspeakably difficult to maintain with any kind of balance. But that is the challenge, nonetheless. To do exactly that, maintain balance. And with that in mind, I regret to see my Personal Month coming to an end.

...think I will email that site, though, and see what kind of note they recommend for use with a hard-driving, pitiless Raw Food Boot Camp instructor.

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