At a workplace that allows employees to trade vacation days, one mom asked if she could borrow some days off to take her family on a trip.
Taking to Reddit's "Am I the *sshole" forum, one childless woman asked if she was being unkind for not offering her co-worker, an overworked mother, some of her paid vacation days. In her workplace, she explained, employees receive 18 paid vacation days per year and unlimited sick days if they are able to provide proof. The vacation days are added to their balance every year on January 1 and accumulate if an employee does not use them. If workers wish to do so, they can give them to someone else. After her co-worker used up most of her vacation days earlier this year when her brother passed away and her daughter got sick, she asked the Reddit user if she could use some of her days off to take her family on a vacation. Ultimately, several members of the workplace contributed a day each so she could take some time off.
"My co-worker has three kids and has worked at this company for 17 years. I am childless and have worked here [for] five years," the Reddit user wrote. "My coworker regularly takes a day or two every month or so. This year, she used 10 of her days in January when her brother [died] and another four when her daughter got sick. As a result, she only has four days for the rest of this year. I have been saving my days for a long vacation and have 44 days, so about two months' worth saved up. My coworker’s kids want her to take them on a two-week vacation. The place they want to go is in our country but pretty far away so four days will not be enough."
She continued, "She wants me to give her six of my days. Her justification is that I’m childless and don’t need that many days. We do get a lot of [paid time off]. I really want to go on a trip around Europe after the pandemic. She says she needs a break more than me. She’s kind of right, maybe kids do make you extra tired. It’s not her fault she had to use 14 vacation days in the first two months of the year. I told her that I can’t give her my days. She’s upset and says that it’s my fault her kids’ dreams are being crushed." Finally, she asked if she was the "*sshole" in this situation.
While numerous responses came flooding in about how she was not in the wrong for refusing to give up her vacation days, the Reddit user posted an update: "She’s not that terrible. Some other coworkers and I each gave her a day so she could have the full two weeks with her kids." This is an example of how empathy and radical kindness can help build worker solidarity even within restrictive frameworks. Of course, no one should have to plead to take time off. However, rather than pit ourselves against each other, we can all chip in to make sure we take care of each other.