26 August

The 26 August is Bergamo’s patron saint day and it is recognised as a local holiday. If it falls on a Sunday there is no replacement, but if it’s on a weekday we don’t go to work. In 2013 it falls on a Monday, therefore I would be able to enjoy an extra day off, but this time I won’t profit by the bonus.

That’s because when I booked the flight for my summer trip, I found that fares were considerably cheaper with a return on 25 August. A price increase of about € 200.00 couldn’t justify prolonging my holiday by one day with the sole purpose to include that extra day. So I grudgingly accepted that this once I will return home one day earlier and won’t take advantage of St. Alexander’s day. But the more I think of it the more it seems a shameful waste of time!

Some people would be jolly happy to have a spare day to organise themselves before they get back into track and start work again, and I know others who would take an extra day off after they return from their holidays for that very purpose. But this is not my habit and I could even declare that it’s contrary to my principles.

Holiday entitlement is a precious and scarce resource. I try to use it to pursue the goals that I can’t attend to when I’m tied up to stay in my place of residence because of work. To me holiday equates to getting away. I have never taken a day off for a purpose different from travel and I have followed this personal rule of conduct in a very strict sense to the point of running into funny consequences.

In order to save one day of annual leave I have happened to arrive at Milan airport at dawn and rush away in a flash to turn up at work on time. Given that my holiday outfit is a far cry from what I’m expected to wear in the office, I had to leave suitable clothes locked in a cabinet and change on the workplace. Every time I have sneaked in surreptitiously, hoping that my low-profile passage would not attract anybody’s attention although the luggage can’t be said to be inconspicuous. It is always a great challenge to resume work under these conditions, what with the fatigue after a whole night in flight and the culture shock, not to mention the jet lag and the change of temperature and climate. But it’s all done in the name of a good cause.

Like in classical travel nightmares, I have happened to miss my flight back, and this, to my great discomfiture, has required taking an extra day off. I hope this won’t happen again, but at least I can say that if this time I should miss my flight back from China, I will always have St. Alexander’s day to protect me. Maybe my bank account won’t be better off, but I won’t suffer a damage to my annual day count.