23¼ days — what would you do?

So, my department at work recently confirmed and verified its commitment to a long-standing guideline by the Betriebsrat (“works council”, if that means anything to you)* to not pay out any accumulated overtime in monetary form. The only way to balance out a positive hourly balance in my overtime “bank” is to take time off.

I currently have 190½ hours sitting around waiting for me do something productive, fun, responsible or goofy with them. What would you do, and why? I am interested in your feedback. Please post it here. I am kind of at a loss. Here’s what I’m kicking around in my head:

  • cleaning up around the house (goodness knows we can always do more of that)
    • day-tripping to Munich or Nuremberg to do things like

    • shopping for a new (used) computer
    • shopping for a digital SLR
    • hitting those museums we otherwise only go to when someone from out-of-town visits
    • shopping around for a bike like this for Sarah
    • getting a frappucino
  • catching a mid-morning or early afternoon movie
  • catching up on my programming projects
  • installing smoke detectors (oops, still got to do that)
  • catching a tan
  • scoping out a good place among the parkier spots on the island in the Danube for a portable grill/picnic session
  • go with Sarah to her voice lessons as a spectator
  • have some extra breakfasts with Natasha and Sarah and Tammy and whomever, making the coffee house circuit
  • hit some local attractions I’ve never had time to fully investigate
  • sleep in (not likely, but I’m putting the option out there)
  • buying a set of Trachten like Narg & Sam’s

Part of the downer is that when you have some time off, you often want to spend it globetrotting, shopping, taking in a matinée, or otherwise spending money. This is the motivation behind the fact that I actually get paid more when I take vacation time off.

Note well: I am by no means complaining that I have all this overtime available. When I worked for the same company in the U.S., there was no such thing as overtime. I routinely worked more than my promised 40 hours per week and usually donated it to the shareholders (of which I am one, don’t get me wrong). Overtime was converted to comp time only by special arrangement with the Boss.

*I don’t know of an American equivalent to the German concept of the Betriebsrat. It’s an organization built into the company’s structure made up of a council that is supposed to limit the power of the executives and board of directors. Typically members of the council take up certain topics relevant to the company’s employees’ everyday activities and well-being, such as transportation, dress code, or in my case, overtime regulations. The bad news: they add to the red tape (Germany has vast, untapped red tape resources). The good news: it’s an elected council.

6 thoughts on “23¼ days — what would you do?”

  1. F.I.L.

    ‘The Boss’ completely reminds me of Ricky Gervais’ office manager David Brent. Any other similarities?

    As for the curse of having three days off: Do everything on your list. Except for the museum-hopping, I think you pull off every one of those things if you tack on the weekend. Especially the Trachten.

  2. F.I.L.

    Oh, look. I misread the ’23 1/4′ days as hours. Holy crapinoly. Are those simply business days? Adding in weekends and you’ve got the better part of two months to whittle away. So, go ahead and take in those museums, too. Treat yourself!

  3. Carrie

    Holy-go-craplogs, Cliff. That’s probably inappropriate to post on your comments, but really, there is no other phrase.

    Seriously, though… Take the train to Denmark ‘r sum’thin’. Swing by my friend Malene’s place and say Whutup? Or, for a more realistic approach, and considering I have no frame of “what there is to do in Regensburg,” I suggest you beef up on your cooking and baking skillz (the kind with a Z and not with an S), watch every homestarrunner.com episode, catch up on reading, take a load of pictures, and avoid the Trachten. Nate’s is still hanging in my closet. (Whilst my wedding dress is hanging in HIS closet. Go figure.) Enjoy your time and, erm… blog more.

  4. Cliff

    Phil: uh, yeah…there were some similarities. Unfortunately.

    I’m certainly not going to be able to take those days in large chunks of time off, as if they were weeks of vacation. There’s no urgency there, since they don’t expire 3 months into the next calendar year, like my real vacation days do. The only other factor to consider is that I can accumulate up to 200 hours in my overtime bank, and the HR department won’t log anything beyond that. So, doing 9 hours a day of work (8 is a normal work day) over the next two weeks will definitely put me over the 200 mark, presuming I don’t take any time off before then. Maybe that means my overtime just gets donated to the company again; or maybe it means I adhere to a strict 8-hour a day schedule starting then.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken measures to try to reduce my overtime balance and keep it from getting out of control…they’re just not working. That 5-day trip to France in our rented BMW from a post few posts ago? That was 16 hours of overtime converted to comptime (Wed.: OT; Thurs: public holiday; Fri: OT; Sat.-Sun.: weekend). But sadly, I’ve already accumluted more than those 16 hours back into my bank.

    Maybe the best way to go is just to make a simple resolution: I shall work no more Fridays this year. I have a couple of Fridays already requested off as vacation for such cool things as Narg & Carrie’s wedding in October and Carolyn & Max’s trip over in November.

    I *would* like to visit Denmark and Northern Germany and places like Holland and Belgium, and conceivably those wouldn’t be quite as expensive as driving a convertible beemer around toll-crazy France. I was also hoping to catch the upcoming Gnarls Barkley concert in Munich, but it looks like that venue’s been scratched off the list. I’ve heard that former-East-German cities like Leipzig and the all-new risen-from-the-ashes Dresden are cool, and accessible, and off the beaten path. Probably the right distance away from home to make excursions to those places doable in a 3- or 4-day weekend via train. The big question will be, how can I do that without spending a fortune on lodging and food while traveling? I guess Sarah’s travel planning skillz (with a Z, right Carrie?) are going to get another workout.

    Why avoid the Trachten? I’ll need a good set, should I ever get invited to a traditional Bavarian wedding (it could happen). Or I just want to blend in at Oktoberfest, like this guy:


  5. Cliff

    I took a few hours off early today — just couldn’t bring myself to spend a whole week in the office. Didn’t seem right after that glorious month of May. Still, we are mulling over another possible solution: burning up three more days of ovetime in London visiting Ian and Michelle in August. Air Berlin might just have become my new sweetheart airline, with their expanded service to Nuremberg (just as close as Munich but smaller and easier to get to and no rude airport bus drivers).

    More on this as our plans firm up.

  6. Tammy

    I like all of your ideas. You could also enroll in more VHS classes in the afternoon. You did so well with the yoga, and since you could have some free afternoons.

    Let me know when you start working on the tan. The West Bad is nice this time of year.

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