How to Cope With Your Last Workday Before the Winter Vacay

Social Commentary

How to Cope With Your Last Workday Before the Winter Vacay

Illustration: Palak Bansal

The time is 5.55 pm. The only sounds in the office are the creaking of swivel chairs and the mechanical tapping of keyboards. You have just sent out your last e-mails, you’re out of smokes, and there are only 300 seconds between you and quitting time. But those 300 seconds might as well be 300 Spartans led by Gerard Butler’s six-pack for how much of a fight they will put up before they let you through the Hot Gates of your office building. There’s no known unit of time more interminable than the last five minutes before you call it a day at work. Except the final five minutes before you leave for vacation.

We’ve all been there, refreshing our Facebook timelines a million times, willing the clock to move faster. My preferred method is simply drawing boxes on the home screen with my mouse pointer to pass the time. Now imagine if those tortuous five minutes were stretched across the length of an entire day. That is the unspeakable horror that awaits you on your last day before you go on your December holiday.

You’ve planned this winter trip all year long. Finally, the meetings, spreadsheets, and interviews will be replaced by joyrides, cocktail pitchers, and one-night stands. But between you and the promised land of holiday bliss stands your last day at work, staring you down with a glare fiercer than Amrish Puri’s. If you make it through this day with your sanity intact, you can enjoy your hard-earned break, but first, you have to survive the Last Day Gauntlet.

It begins in the morning, with the incessant pinging of the office WhatsApp group, reminding you that there’s still 24 hours before you can mute the damned thing. When you finally make it to work, you take one look at your to-do list and mentally check out. Then begins the elaborate, intricate dance of making it to quitting time without being roped in to do any actual work. This comes at great cost to your health, as it entails taking at least seven or eight more smoke breaks than necessary. Non-smokers might find evading attention somewhat harder; they can use the old “headphones and frown” method to ward off colleagues, and long, meandering phone calls taken while on a stroll outside the office building always help.

If cornered by a co-worker, do your best to keep your replies monosyllabic and do not make eye contact at any cost

Your last day before vacation will come with a change in perspective. Suddenly, the co-workers you spend the entire year with will start to look like harbingers of a communicable disease, and your survival instincts will drive you to avoid interaction with them. If cornered by a co-worker, do your best to keep your replies monosyllabic and do not make eye contact at any cost. Requests to carry out tasks should be replied with vague but noncommittal answers like “I’ll look into it”, “Send me a mail”, and “Let me check with Rishabh.” It doesn’t matter if you don’t have anyone named Rishabh working at your office, the only important thing is deflecting attention.

It’s not enough to merely maintain a low profile. As we know, the last five minutes of the day are intolerable. Considering you’ve spent the entire first half living out an extended version of this stressful scenario, scope the scene for a chance at an early exit. You’ve probably still not packed, and those chaddis aren’t going to fold themselves.

Getting out is a difficult task, but when you successfully achieve your target, you feel like Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption. You might have had to fake an illness or a family emergency, but you’ll start to feel better about killing off your grandfather for the fifth time the more distance you put between you and your office. After all, for each kilometre you move away from your office, you’re drawing closer to your final destination.

The next day, when your plane touches down in Goa, or Pondi, or Paris, or wherever you’re going, don’t be disheartened at the crowd waiting for their baggage at the carousel. You might think they’re all there to crowd up your holiday, but each one of those travel-weary vacationers has fought the same battle: Getting through the last nine hours between you and quitting time.