Taking vacation in coronavirus times? Use this form letter.
Stephanie Hayes | Assure your family and friends that you're not actually having any fun.
A vacationer lounges at Pass-a-Grille Beach. This could be you.
A vacationer lounges at Pass-a-Grille Beach. This could be you. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jul. 23, 2020

I’m out of here, suckas!

I’m sorry. That was uncouth. Let me rephrase. I am on vacation next week, dear friends. That means this column space will be temporarily empty.

I know, how dare I leave amid such mayhem? My family examined every possible getaway during this troubling summer, and it all seemed like the wrong door at a demented carnival.

We settled on a few days in a house on (redacted by husband), two hours south of Tampa Bay and only reachable by boat. There are no stores or restaurants. No paved roads. The only human we will encounter up close is the boat captain for the dash over, a man who did not give his name on the phone but just said, “Mmkay, cash only.”

“So you’re leaving the prison of your own four walls for the prison of four other walls?” a friend said during a Zoom call last weekend. He is British, and it was especially soul-crushing delivered in that accent. But yes. Yes, that is what we are doing. Anyway, isn’t life a prison? Didn’t, you know, Thomas Aquinas say that?

Maybe you also are taking a vacation and dread explaining it to people. After all, you want your friends to assume the best about you in these times. I offer help with the following form letter.

Dear family, friends and co-workers,

I am going away. I will not be reachable for (insert number) days. I mean it. The way things have been going in 2020, you may believe I am tethered to my electronic forms of communication 24 hours a day, and the new work week is actually Monday through Blargsday. But I am telling you, I will be gone.

I will not be available via email, text message, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, FaceTime, Slack, Google Forms, typewriter, singing barbershop quartet, Morse code, Post-It Note, emergency flare, airplane skywriting, Pony Express or Illuminati hand gestures.

I may, however, post several vacation photos on social media. This is because I need the quick and ultimately meaningless dopamine release that occurs when you “like” something. I need it more than ever.

When you see such a post, please “like” it. But do not ask me about safety precautions. Instead, know that I have simply moved from one house to another, with the same group of people I have been locked up with for (insert number) days.

Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

If we should encounter another person on this “vacation,” know that we are wearing masks and also holding up a string of garlic while chanting, “ABACK, FOUL BEASTS.” Then, we will undergo ritual cleansing in the (sand dunes, blueberry patch, hot tub — circle one).

I don’t want you to think we are having too much fun while you are working and continuing your existential crisis. We are away, yes, but our activities are limited to (staring directly into the sun, watching water trickle over pebbles, wondering if there are Sasquatch in these woods). We are not at theme parks. We are not at concerts. Nor are we passing ice cream cones back and forth with strangers.

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I will answer your correspondence when I return, but I would highly encourage you not to correspond with me at all. Now is a great time to figure out how to operate without me. Now is a great time to reconsider all your life choices, actually.

If I don’t return, do not send anyone in search of me. For I have chosen a new life among the (shore birds, trees, desert mesas).

Yours cleanly,

(insert name)

• • •

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